This weekend, Insomniac Events hosted their second annual Escape from Wonderland music festival at the Nos Events Center in San Bernadino. The Wonderland parties have become a staple brand for the promoters and are becoming just as popular as Electric Daisy Carnival (their biggest event of the year). Built on a foundation of Alice and Wonderland themed performers and décor, Escape from Wonderland brought out the spooky side of this magical world we've come to love. We break down the night with the top five best and worst of our dark decent into this massive EDM event.
5. Too Many People
After announcing it's cancellation on Friday night, the Go Ventures Monster Massive crowd must have attracted even more dance music fans and ravers because Escape officially sold out the next morning. Interestingly enough, unlike at Nocturnal Wonderland where there was plenty of dancing room, Escape was completely packed. Traffic jams to get to the venue, un-plur cab drivers charging up the ass for lifts and stages so crammed you couldn't even see the DJs reminded us of EDC and made us nauseous as everyone was rampaging around the venue.
4. Annoying E-Tards
Like with any event that draws in big crowds the amount of everything multiplies and that includes the dark side of the old “rave” scene and hundreds of people on drugs rolling their faces off. With all of the high quality production elements that go into creating these parties – from the lights, mazes, art installations and theatrical performers we wish more people came to experience these without being over stimulated and on something illegal. The show and festival itself is just as, if not funner when you can actually remember everything.
3. Weak Sauce Costume Contest
We walked through the entire venue escaping the ghoulish monsters trying to find the costume contest to no avail. We even asked numerous security guards and staff members and it seemed like nobody knew where this mysterious costume booth was. Once we did finally find it we were 10 minutes late and unable to enter. Why not keep the contest going all night and give everyone a fair chance at a pair of coveted EDC 2013 tickets?
2. Number One DJ for One Hour?
We love that Insomniac really put the nail in the coffin on Go Ventures' Monster Massive, by booking Armin Van Buuren (the main artist who was supposed to headline last years cancelled Monster Massive event). But how can you really have the new DJ Mag Top 100 DJ in the world play at 10pm for only an hour? We know he came back to LA last night and did an incredible much longer set at Exchange LA, but not everyone could make this-last minute show. We just had our hopes up and though he did play for a little over an hour at Escape, he kept us yearning for more!
1. Too Many DJs
We know there's worse problems you can have, but with such a stacked diverse line up it was extremely difficult to choose between stages and DJs, let alone explore all of the haunted happenings. There were so many scheduling conflicts and great artists playing at the same time we wished we could duplicate ourselves and be at more places at once. We know Insomniac loves to spoil us, but ending our night by having to choose between Calvin Harris, Sander Van Doorn, Borgore, Infected Mushroom and Richie Hawtin was heart wrenching and upsetting. We know, how dare we bitch about our first-world raver problems but someone's got to say it.
We loved all of the options Escape from Wonderland had to offer as far as music. From the epic bass going on at the depths of the Chopping Block to the booming progressive sounds at Steve Angello's Size Matters Graveyard there was a little bit of everything for true music lovers and EDM fans. Our personal favorite was the Enter Stage at the Cannibal's Tea Party hosted by techno legend Richie Hawtin. This stage was bumping all night with acts like Art Department and Loco Dice bringing their signature sounds so popular in Europe, yet underground in the states.
4. Art Installations That Reminded Us of Burning Man
Even with all of the production value with world renowned artists, massive lighting, performers and frightening mazes Insomniac still took the time and money to bring a couple of art installations to the festival. Music and art have always co-existed and we think it's admirable that they want to keep that spirit alive. We saw the zoetrope “wheel of death” at the Burning Man playa and think it was awesome that Pasquale Rotella, the Insomniac CEO, brought this piece to Escape. The art installations combined with the rest of the production elements truly transform the venue into another haunting world perfect for exploring and venturing around.
3. Sound Quality
We love that Insomniac really cares about their fans and pays attention to their needs. Compared to last months Nocturnal Wonderland the sound was turned up at this twisted adventure right away after we saw some tweets going through Pasquale Rotella from people kindly requesting more bass. Though not as booming as EDC in Las Vegas or at past events, it was a much needed improvement from last month. We couldn't imagine having to get down to some sick dubstep like Crizzly without being able to feel the bass through our entire bodies again.
Insomniacs emphasis on attendees being the headliners, creates an unforgettable experience for everyone involved. The staff and security get a kick out of seeing everyone's intricate costumes. You can really tell that people spend lots of time and effort putting together the perfect outfit, either to show off their creativity, their anatomy and sometimes both. Besides being a Halloween theme event, rave culture has always been know for being elaborate in the way they dress. The fact that Insomniac encourages this freedom of expression brings out some of the most plur vibes and interesting people from New York, Texas to the Cali coast. We saw everything from Winnie the Pooh's to pastied Queen of Hearts who all brought an insane amount of incredible energy to the event!
1. Laidback Luke
No stranger to the main stage, Laidback Luke was our favorite stand out artist of the night. We've said it before and we will say it again – one of our biggest festival pet peeve is hearing DJs use the EXACT same set list from other festivals and shows. Laidback Luke however has never disappointed us and always keeps things freshly new and inspiring. He had that main stage banging so hard as he carefully spliced songs like “Show Me Love” with Alvaro's “Make the Crowd Go” and his own “Do The Robot.” Opening with “Nightmare Before Christmas” to go along with the eerie Halloween theme LBL even dropped four trap songs back-to-back proving that his 15 years in the music biz hasn't made him out of touch with the youth of today's scene.