With attendance at SoCal raves hovering in the 20,000 to 30,000 range, promoters are hunting for larger spaces to keep their partygoers comfy and safe. Problem is they're rave promoters—most cities and venues still have media-inspired visions of bleary-eyed, Xed-out kids dancing all night long to that weird, loud "electronica" music.
So to aid in securing the massive Empire Polo Field out in Indio for its eighth presentation of Nocturnal Wonderland, Santa Monica-based Insomniac Productions sought the help of Goldenvoice, one of the region's largest concert promoters. Last year, Goldenvoice produced the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the same site. Insomniac founder Pasquale Rotella explains he's using Goldenvoice's experience with the venue to make sure everything runs smoothly—and to use the industrial power of its name to keep police and other Indio-area authorities happy.
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Raves are hardly the find-the-guy-on-the-corner-with-the-flier obstacle courses they were a decade ago, and the Goldenvoice connection is yet another sign of the culture's evolution from the underground.
Rotella stresses that the event will still "have the same production values, the same vibe and the same energy" as previous Nocturnal editions. "All the love we put into our events will still be there—we're just going to have the experience of Goldenvoice involved," he says.
So with Goldenvoice serving as de facto community liaison, Rotella says Insomniac focused less on logistics and more on nailing down a shit-hot lineup. Nocturnal 2000 will offer eight themed rooms, with styles ranging from trance (U.K. DJ Paul Oakenfold's set should come around sunrise, which will be spectacular out in the desert) to house (don't miss Groove Armada's pop-heavy set) to jungle (highlighted by the mad beats of DJ Dara, Urb Magazine editor Raymond Roker and AK1200) to hardcore (with OC's own Ron D Core) to the breaks, hard-house and techno of the Upside Down Room (where you can check out what other locals like Überzone and Simply Jeff have been up to lately). The Funkadelik Lounge, meanwhile, will further incorporate live hip-hop into rave culture with sets by Kool Keith, Dilated Peoples, the Alkaholics and Long Beach's Ugly Duckling. Really, if you can't find something you like on this bill, you don't just hate electronic music—you also hate music.
NOCTURNAL WONDERLAND AT THE EMPIRE POLO FIELD, 81-800 AVE. 51, INDIO; WWW.NOCTURNALWONDERLAND.COM OR WWW.INSOMNIACEVENTS.COM. SAT., 4 P.M.-6 A.M. $25-$40 (INCLUDES PARKING AND CAMPING).