Beyond Wonderland 2017 came with notable changes and surprises this year as the theme evolved to The Endless Sea. Insomniac brought a wide range of music throughout the duration of the two day festival that every headliner could get down to! With artists such as Alison Wonderland, Bro Safari, Diplo, Hardwell, Sander Van Doorn, and many more, including the return of the Bassrush and Dreamstate stage.
Having already experienced Beyond Wonderland in previous years, it had been quite some time since I had returned down the rabbit hole. The first time I went to Beyond was in 2013 when the festival was only one day and was introduced into it’s new home at the San Manuel Amphitheater. 2013 did not have as colorful and intricate megastructures that we see today (I.E., Smoking Caterpillar, Reaper, Zen Owl) and the stages back then were minimalistic in comparison.
Following 2013, Insomniac has had a dramatic increase in headliners and many of their festivals in turn have added a second, or even third day. The festival did not return in 2014, but I returned in 2015 after Beyond introduced a second day. The main-stage that year had many headliners including myself struck in awe when they unveiled the caterpillar smoking hookah a-top a mushroom. Artists and my personal favorites such as Aly & Fila, Benny Benassi, Knife Party, Showtek, and "OH YES! OH YES!" Carl Cox performed that year which made for an epic two day festival experience.
Throughout the years, I have observed various improvements with Beyond Wonderland, especially when it has come to stage development and creating an interesting atmosphere for it’s headliners. 2017 brought a new twist into the mix when it 1) returned to NOS Event Center and 2) It’s theme transformed and opened up a new chapter, The Endless Sea. Headliner’s dressed up as mermaids, sea nymphs, and mystical creatures of the ocean instead of the usual Alice, Cheshire Cat, Queen of Hearts, and Rabbit. The energy and enthusiasm was well and alive as over 78,000 were drawn to the San Bernardino area throughout the weekend for the festival.
I had the opportunity to enjoy Beyond Wonderland in VIP. The rapid entry and complementary lanyards put smiles on our faces as we entered the venue. We enjoyed the spacious stage and lounge area, hot chocolate provided when temperatures dropped low, and clean restrooms. As the night progressed, my friends and I made our way over to the Cheshire Cove, hosted by Dreamstate, and danced to some of my favorite DJ's such as Vini Vici, Liquid Soul, Reorder, and Simon Patterson. The evening for the most part was spent getting down to my personal favorite genre of music, psytrance. The stage was probably one of the smaller stages in the venue, but the light show inside was definitely one of the most impressive. Vini Vici was the artist who took the night for me since I have never seen him live, and he completely blew my mind.
Before I knew it, it was already the last day of Beyond Wonderland. I woke up energized and ready for day two to begin. I found that the second day featured much more dubstep, something I am not normally accustomed, but found myself enjoying. My top two artists of the night, though unexpected since they are out of my ordinary trance boundaries, were Bro Safari and 12th Planet at the Outer Realm stage, hosted by Bassrush. Though my friends and I are sometimes on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to our taste in genres, we compromise on what DJ's we would all like to see, and are always open to new experiences.
As a result, I was probably going the hardest during Bro Safari’s set as I was dancing my heart out with my friends. As our night came to a close we shifted gears and made our way over to the Aquarium to catch the last set of the night, MK, who ended the evening on a sweet note with some groovy deep house.
Some improvements that could be made for when Beyond makes its return in 2018 is to incorporate more designated VIP areas for it’s headliners at more of the stages with the same perks as the main stage. More water stations could always be added for everyone's convenience, and I can only hope there will be more heating areas as The Endless Sea was about 45 degrees when the sun went down. Regardless, Beyond Wonderland was nothing short of incredible as I made long lasting memories during the first chapter of The Endless Sea.
What might Insomniac have in store for next year? Did YOU like the new theme, or would you prefer to go back down the rabbit hole with Alice?