October 29, 2011
NOS Events Center If you came to the NOS Events Center looking for just another rave, you were in for a surprise. Insomniac's inaugural self proclaimed "twisted sister," Escape From Wonderland, had carnival rides, haunted mazes and five massive stages featuring more than 30 artists. Approximately 50,000 people fist-pumped, slide-danced, shuffled and dubstepped with glow sticks, bunny ears, fluffys and platform shoes.
This one-day festival had a bigger attendance than Insomniac's September event, Nocturnal Wonderland, which had 40,000 raving fans over the span of two days.
At Saturday's gathering, Benny Benassi was no Clark Kent, soaring through the skies in his Superman costume--a fitting touch that went with his hit single "Cinema."
People were wearing every type of costume imaginable: From Alice in Wonderland to Tron, Super Mario Bros., the Riddler, butterflies, Waldo, Indian chiefs, bunnies, the Tin Man and even Mickey Mouse made an appearance (hopefully he didn't think this was Fantasia).
There was no reason to be there if you weren't into the spirit of Halloween: Evil clowns, crazy chainsaw killers and the walking dead all lurked in the fog. The haunted mazes were filled with all sorts of undead, and every corner I turned was a leap of faith. Each time I thought I was safe, a clown with a chainsaw chased me out of the maze.
Le Castle Vania set the mood for the night with his singles "No One Gets Out Alive," "In For the Kill" and "Awake." After his set, we spoke with the still-energized DJ; he'd just dropped his new single with Kaskade, and had nothing but praise for the event: "There's nothing like Insomniac events," he said, adding, "I felt a connection between the music and fans."
Fan favorite ATB entered the Ghouls Graveyard to the electrifying chant, "ATB! ATB!" Even if you left your drugs at home, ATB's hit single "Ecstasy" was spellbinding. Dash Berlin kept the crowd pumped as he stepped on to the stage with "California Love" by 2Pac. With every stage filled to capacity, I decided to end my night with Steve Angello. While playing his set, the letters LA were projected in the background. He told the crowd, "This is the best party ever. First of all, you are here. Second, it's in California. But most of all, I love you." He then went on to play his mix of "Other Side," from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and "Island pt. 1."
Attendees not into traditional techno were in luck. Subfocus, known for his distinct ghetto bass and dub step, was accompanied on stage by MC ID. I&I Sound System played their own style of electronic eeggae and dub step. (Playing from their custom RV next to the concession stands, I could smell the herb in the air.)
With Escape from Wonderland, Insomniac showed why they are Insomniac. They proved they could put on a successful, sold-out event even with all the competition on Halloween weekend. Escape From Wonderland was worth dollar, spent even at $75 a pop.
Random Notebook Dump: The General Store had a wide range of snacks and trinkets that included cameras, Clear Eyes, tampons, Tylenol, blow pops, Skittles, Pixie Stix and gum. They definitely tailored the wares to the crowd.
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Overheard in the crowd:
"Walking though the 3D maze was like a wicked acid trip."
"It was like I traveled through time."
Random Notebook Dump: A drunk girl on Ecstasy asked me to help her find her brother.
Escape From Wonderland Lineup:
Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike
Le Castle Vania
Martin Buttrich live
Pendulum w/ MC Verse
Subfocus w/ MC ID
Sultan & Ned Shepard
Wilkinson w/ Armanni Reign