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Down the Rabbit Hole: Beyond Wonderland SoCal 2018

It was a wet and wild trip down the rabbit hole as the eighth edition of Insomniac's Beyond Wonderland rolled through Southern California. Over 70,000 fans made the pilgrimage to the National Orange Show Events Center in San Bernardino to witness some of the biggest names in EDM. Once again, Insomniac pulled out all the stops— Beyond Wonderland is a psychedelic realm set to an Alice in Wonderland theme highlighted by an insane amount of neon lights strung through expansive unique art installations. Six Alice themed stages covered the grounds with names spanning from the Wide Awake Art Car, Beyond Wench, Cheshire Woods, Caterpillar’s Garden, Mad Hatters Castle, to the Queens Domain.

Main stage at Beyond Wonderland 2018.
Photo: Jake West for Insomniac Events

Day one brought along a bit of rain with but it was no match for the spirit of the crowd. The music is only half the tone-setter at these events. As performers roamed the crowds, every which way you turned you ran the chance of running into numerous characters including the Pink Flamingo, the Queen’s Cardsmen, Tea Time Hatters, Leopard Ladies, Teacup Twists, Fantastical Fillies, and Formal Foxes.

Performers roam the crowds at Beyond Wonderland.
Photo: Jake West for Insomniac Events.

Two days felt a tad short when you try to experience everything there is at Beyond Wonderland. VIP attendees could spend a full day in the interactive sections building bracelets at a Kandi station. There were also interactive photo-ops which used props to take silly tea party pictures. My friends and I ate tiny cupcakes and roamed the grounds meeting all sorts of interesting people. Insomniac provided vibrating relaxation couches to lie on, as well as a small croquet game set up in the VIP area as well. The real advantage of the fancy life is the sightlines and stage access at the Queen’s Domain, Mad Hatter’s Castle and Caterpillar’s Garden.

Day one was stacked with artists to the point where some tough decisions had to be made and with a range of artists like i_o, Johnny Darko, Bijou, Jack Beats, Walker & Royce, Chris Lake, Claptone, Andy C, Black Tiger Sex Machine, Kill The Noise, Kayzo, k?d, Dash Berlin, Seven Lions, and Tiesto it wasn't an easy task. Walker and Royce set the dirty mood with an early time slot at 7:45. k?d’s set stood out to me as being darker than I had anticipated and I was already expecting some filth. I was lucky enough to catch the amazing vocalist Karra, who performed live with SAYMYNAME. The highlight of day one for me was watching Dash Berlin and then Seven Lions and shaving off the last two songs to run over and catch Kill the Noise (my set conflict of the weekend). Dash dropped some Gems putting the crowd in a positive place which set the stage for Seven Lions do what he does best, combine tear-jerking with neck breaking. The second half of Kill the Noise where Jake was dead smack in the middle of melting faces to intense visuals. That two plus hour window of time is exactly why I go to these events— seeing my favorite artists do what they do on that scale is “Beyond” insane.

Black Tiger Sex Machine at Beyond Wonderland 2018. Photo: Jake West for Insomniac Events.

Other highlights of day one include the dance-friendly set by Oliver Heldens, Chris Lake's bass-heavy encounter inside the warehouse (Caterpillar's Garden), and Jack Beats at Cheshire Woods.

Tiesto at Beyond Wonderland 2018. Photo:
Bennett Sell-Kline for Insomniac Events.

Day two brought out the sunshine to guests delight, and with it came the crowds. Insomniac’s renowned bass music brand, Bassrush, hosted the massive Mad Hatter’s Castle stage on Saturday. Kayzo, Andy C, Kill The Noise, and Flosstradamus played heavy-hitting sets for thousands of head-banging fans. The Caterpillar's Garden was home to house and techno beats delivered by Will Clarke, Oliver, Lee Foss, Solardo (a personal favorite of mine), and Born Dirty.

Flosstradamus at Beyond Wonderland 2018. Photo: Ivan Meneses for Insomniac Events.

Clearing skies meant fans were able to enjoy some of the art installations Insomniac produced around Wonderland, from climbable teacups, firebreathing lillypads, massive teacup sets, the shipwreck at Beyond Wench and the Wide Awake art car (hosted by Space Yacht).

The Wide Awake art car hosted by Space Yacht.
Photo: Jake West for Insomniac Events.

Spirits were high throughout the weekend, but eager fans definitely enjoyed themselves even more on Saturday night as R3HAB, DJ Mustard, Flosstradamus, Valentino Khan, Showtek, KSHMR, and Alesso closed out this jam-packed two-day trip to Wonderland.

Alesso closing out Beyond Wonderland 2018. Photo: Jake West for Insomniac Events.

Of course, Insomniac delivered on the immersive experience from the wandering characters, creative art installations, state-of-the-art sound systems (including lasers, LED screens, confetti blasters) and the dedicated ground control who helped keep thousands of revelers safe throughout the weekend.

Photo: Jake West for Insomniac Events.

Insomniac's next venture takes us to their premier festival Electric Daisy Carnival, with stops in China (April 29th and 30th), Japan (May 12th and 13th) and their massive flagship festival EDC Las Vegas May 18, 19, and 20th. Tickets for these events can be found here.

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