Festival Review

Dreamstate San Francisco - 2017 Review

TRANCE: A genre of music that speaks directly through the heart connecting millions of people throughout the world. 

Not quite the actual definition of Trance... but it still holds true. Having already attended three Dreamstate events prior, I knew I was in for an incredible 2-day experience at one of Insomniac’s most anticipated events of the year. If that wasn’t exciting enough, it was my first time traveling to NorCal. Despite the commute from Los Angeles, we were more than ready to be in A State of Trance upon arrival.


As the doors for day one opened, exhilaration filled our hearts when we heard that trance beat as we entered. Day one brought artists such as Ruben De Ronde, Menno De Jong, Ben Nicky, PureNRG (Solarstone & Giuseppe Ottaviani), Liquid Ace (Liquid Soul & Ace Ventura), Paul Oakenfold who presented his Generations set, Markus Schulz, and Paul Van Dyk. The beauty of trance is that there are a variety of sub-styles that diversify the sound, my personal favorite being psytrance. In comparison to Dreamstate SoCal, this one was much smaller in scale as there was only one stage.  However, I found this to be a positive aspect since I did not want to miss anyone throughout the weekend.

It is difficult to say which DJ truly took the first night for me since I am such a big fan of all of the artists on the lineup, but I would have to give my top three sets of the evening to Ben Nicky, Liquid Ace, and Markus Schulz. Ben Nicky started off our night with an energetic set that had us dancing till we dropped. Another great aspect I found the Bill Graham Auditorium to have was it’s seating on the upper level of the venue which had a crystal clear aerial view of the stage. As we caught our breath and took a water break after Ben Nicky’s set, we enjoyed Liquid Ace from the comfort of the terrace. When Markus Schulz took the stage we headed back down to dance to his set, and to end our night with none other than Paul Van Dyk.


Still astonished from the first night, we ventured into the second day of the event. Although I was bummed that the weekend had been going by so quickly, I was determined to make the best of my final evening. Night two brought another incredible line-up for all the dreamers, including: Binary Finary, Fleming & Laurence, Bryan Kearney, Vini Vici, Astrix, John O’Callaghan, Ferry Corsten’s producer set, and Gareth Emery. Night two was my favorite evening of Dreamstate as the music catered most to my style! I was very impressed with Bryan Kearney’s set, as this was my second time seeing him since the first launch of Dreamstate back in 2015 in Southern California. However, the DJ that I was most looking forward to see, was psytrance legend, Vini Vici. I was completely blown away when I heard one of my favorite songs, “Colors”, come on.

Rave Crew.jpg

With the night only about half-way through, we were still anticipating amazing sets from Astrix and John O’Callaghan who more than delivered! They both brought one of the most heart-pounding and dynamic sets I have heard in a long time. Ferry Corsten’s producer set was also very impressive as it introduced some sounds that I had not yet heard. Lastly, our night came to an end with Gareth Emery, who had a set that was varying in energy, from soothing trance beats, to 180 BPM. Gareth kept us on our toes and made for an interesting finish to our Dreamstate experience.  


Compared to the three previous Dreamstate events I have previously attended, this one was unique in its own way. I enjoyed the set up with one stage because it avoided all set-time conflicts. The seating upstairs was great when we needed some down time to re-hydrate and relax, while still being able to enjoy the music. The venue was very large with ample space, and one small but defining detail for me was that there was a coat check! Something I find useful for every indoor event, especially during the colder months.

Being the trance-head that I am, this line-up (and every Dreamstate line up) was a DREAM! For as long as Insomniac continues to produce this event, I will continue to attend. I just hope Insomniac continues to host all Trance stages at their other festivals like Nocturnal, Escape, Beyond, and EDC Las Vegas. I have been attending Dreamstate since the first time it came to Southern California in November of 2015 and I have seen significant growth in its production. Having evolved from a one stage event at the NOS Events Center, and expanding into a four stage festival in 2016. I for one am very excited to see more Dreamstate events in Los Angeles, and I can’t wait to attend Dreamstate SoCal November 24th & 25th when it returns to the Nos Events Center.

EDC Las Vegas - The 2017 Experience

The Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas is an event that many ravers spend months upon months preparing, planning, and saving up for. Being the most anticipated event of the year, we carefully plan our creative and colorful costumes for each day of the weekend. We reserve our hotels and purchase our tickets 6 months in advance, and patiently wait until we can return to what many call “Home”. My initial visit was back in June, 2013 when the “Blue Owl” stage was initially introduced to kineticFIELD. Over the years, I have seen significant changes in stage development, increases in ticket sales, inconveniences, improvements, and plenty of instances that have left me baffled. This year marked my 5th year attending the Electric Daisy Carnival.


When I attended my first EDC Las Vegas I had been dreaming of overlooking the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for years. Although, I had been to a handful of events such as Nocturnal and Escape from Wonderland, HARD Summer, HARD Day of the Dead, Crush, and Beyond Wonderland, I still considered myself a rookie. My first EDC was more intense than I expected it to be, especially being that it’s from dusk till dawn every day of the festival. I was lucky to have been with more experienced ravers that had previously attended EDC to show me the ropes.

Needless to say, when I finally arrived to the speedway I was amazed. It was one the most beautiful sights I had seen in my life. kineticFIELD brought on the theme of the large blue owl which opened and closed it’s wings at the beginning and ending of every DJ’s set. neonGARDEN was not the large pyramid structure that we have seen over the past three years, and circuitGROUNDS was still a covered mega-structure.

That first year, I decided to try out the shuttle system. While everything was impeccable, this was one aspect I did not enjoy. The shuttles were completely unorganized, and the headliners had to wait over two hours in the Las Vegas heat to get on their shuttle. By the third day, we did not even bother with the shuttles anymore and decided to drive. The traffic was seemingly a breeze which made me question why I had even purchased the shuttle pass in the first place. I believe with the increase in popularity to attend EDC, every year the traffic has continued to get worse. As my first year in attendance came to a close, I was exhausted but ready for more.

As the years went on and I gained more experience raving, EDC (and Insomniac in general) changed in monumental ways. The stages got more creative, with the arrival of 2014’s Kinetic Cathedral, 2015’s Crystal Village, 2016‘s Kinetic Temple, and this year’s Gaia theme! Returning in 2017 as a more experienced raver with 6 years of events under my belt, I started this year’s adventure wondering what this year will have in store for me?


Let me start off by saying that making the trek out to Vegas was a mission. Not only did I have a final exam the morning of day one, but I also had to catch a flight from LAX to LAS, which I MISSED! After a tedious hour on standby, I boarded the following flight and was on my way. I arrived to Vegas at around 7pm. I opted to give the Shuttles another try as I had seen that the organization had improved with each passing year. One thing I did not take into account, was the time that I was heading out to the festival (it was about 7:30pm). It took approximately 3 hours to reach the festival. Yet again, the shuttles were an absolute mess. They were extremely over sold, and there were so many ravers boarding the shuttles that did not have a pass. The lines alone made for an exhausting 2 and a 1/2 hour wait in line. Despite my experience with the shuttles, I was determined to have an amazing first night.

The Parliament Art Car : Photo Credit - Insomniac Events

The Parliament Art Car: Photo Credit - Insomniac Events

My evening started off exploring the various artCARS that were roaming the venue. Each colorful and unique in their own way. After familiarizing myself with the map and locations of stages, free water stations, and vendor areas, I made way to kineticFIELD to enjoy sets from Martin Garrix, Armin Van Buuren, and caught a part of Hardwell's set before switching gears and going to my favorite stage, quantumVALLEY hosted by Dreamstate. I especially enjoyed sets from Freedom Fighters and Sean Tyas.

Video taken by another Headliner

The first night of my story does not simply end with a fabulous evening of enjoying my favorite music. This is going to one of the various conundrums that I saw while exploring the venue, but let me start off by saying: Vegas, you are WILD! I know everyone is out here to have a good time, but we all definitely need to know our limits. When you see a raver walking around butt naked, hissing at workers, dancing on top of port-o-potties and diving into the concrete as if they were about to go into a pool, you know you’ve seen it all. In all my years of attending EDC Las Vegas, I have never seen so many headliners walking around butt naked. Who knows... maybe they just wanted to feel the breeze? While everything is all in good and fun, keep in mind that these type of actions will get you kicked out of the festival or worse, so please party safe!


EDC Las Vegas

With night one in the books, I was more than ready to start day two and arrive WAY earlier than I did the previous day. Night two of EDC in my experience always goes the hardest and most of my favorite DJ's are usually playing. I decided to not take the shuttle on the way there, and it turned out to be the best decision I could have made. There was news of shuttles being shut down for over an hour without any leaving to venue. With an ever increasing line, it turned out to be a mad-house. As a result of leaving early with my friends in their car, we arrived within 24 minutes of leaving strip. It definitely seems to have been a complicated year for the shuttles as the organization seems to have backtracked from recent years.

We made it to the venue just after the doors had opened, and were off to a positive start. I also had the pleasure of enjoying my friends wedding ceremony at the venue. I had always heard of ravers getting married, but had never had any people I knew actually plan their wedding there. It was a beautiful ceremony full of lights, love, and just the right twist of EDC fun and uniqueness. As I moved forward with my night, my group and I headed over to watch Laidback Luke and KYGO’s set at kineticFIELD. Leaving in the middle of KYGO's set I made my way over to circuitGROUNDS to see Duke Dumont, Alesso, and Above and Beyond. I was torn that Above and Beyond was at the exact same time as Dillon Francis, so I made time toward the end to catch part of his set. We took the time to re-group and decided to call it a night early (around 4am) since we were all so traumatized by the traffic and shuttle situation from the previous day. Many ravers said that they waited over an hour to board the shuttle, and another 45 minutes to arrive to their hotels. Others had to deal with the treacherous journey of leaving the EDC parking lot. Though I heard many left around 4:30am, they were still caught in bumper to bumper traffic until 7am. So what really is the proper way to go? Shuttle? or Car? And when is the best time to leave the venue without missing out on your favorite closing sets? This is one issue that Insomniac needs to improve.


All good things must come to an end. As the final day of the festival came, there were many mixed emotions. Many ravers were tired, some even decided to sell the final day passes since they had to work Monday or just couldn't handle the intensity of a three day festival. Then, there were the warriors that decided to end the weekend with a bang, going harder than ever! My rave family and I once again left early to festival, arriving without any major traffic issues to delay our entrance. We had an interesting time watching the downfall of DJ Khaled as he was getting boo’d off stage (Honestly, I’m not even sure why we were even there).

Video taken by another Headliner

We then spent a fair portion of our evening at the neonGARDEN, getting down the artists such as Dense and Pika, and Alan Fitzpatrick, and the legendary Adam Beyer.

My friends also knew a little secret, and that was that Kaskade would be playing a sunrise set at the Kalliope artCAR. Despite having to do A LOT of walking to even find where Kaskade was playing in the venue. We ended up finding his set and enjoyed it for about 45 minutes before heading off to see Vini Vici, who I was most excited to see. He has has quickly become one of the top DJ's on my list. This was hands down my favorite set of the entire weekend. Though my friends and I were exhausted, Vini Vici brought us back to life in that final hour, and we danced harder than we ever did.


EDC has changed in so many ways over the past 5 years. I found this year was odd only in the sense that it did not sell out. Something I have not seen happen in years. I am not sure if Insomniac increased this year’s capacity, or perhaps the festival has simply gotten too expensive. In 2013 I remember there was a special ticketing price for headliners who purchased as early as November. Tier 1 GA starting at $199 and tier 2 $259. Comparing to today’s whopping $436, it has gone up a couple hundred dollars in the past few years.

In my opinion, it is worth the money because the production is always incredible. However, I found that the “Premier Parking Pass” and “Shuttle Pass” prices are absolutely ridiculous for the benefits received. If headliners are paying $114 for transport to the venue and free loaders are mooching off the shuttle services because the workers are not checking passes, it is not worth the wait. I also heard from friends who had purchased premier parking that they still waited 2-3 hours to even get out of the parking lot. These are huge issues that Insomniac needs to resolve for the safety of it’s headliners, and efficiency. Thousands of ravers were stranded for hours in the parking lot/shuttle lines without access to water and in intense heat. It’s a problem that has been on going and seemingly getting worse each year.

Despite the downside of the awful parking and transportation situation, EDC always holds a special place in my heart. I am always excited to see what the next year has to bring and how it will continue to evolve, grow, and improve. Overall, this year was hands down the best EDC I have experienced since 2014. The production was beautiful, I was surrounded by amazing friends, and I had a great laugh from all of the crazy things we saw. With a genuine love for the music and this rave community, I can’t wait for EDC Las Vegas in 2018.

Photo via aLIVE Coverage - Insomniac

Photo via aLIVE Coverage - Insomniac

How many EDC’s have YOU been to and what are your opinions on this year’s production? Will you be attending next year? Let me know in the comments below!

Coachella - 2017 Review

Festival season is in full swing, and after not having been to Coachella since my initial visit in 2015, I had the pleasure of attending weekend two this year. This is the one festival where I tend to venture outside of my EDM comfort zone, and explore hip-hop, pop, and other various genres, discovering new artists and exploring different sounds.

The Calm Before the Storm

Being my second time camping at Coachella, leaving early on Thursday morning was an absolute must. (To see how I prepared for Coachella, Check out my previous post of Festival Essentials). Our early arrival ensured our campsite would be as close as possible to the festival, and other amenities such as the bathrooms, food, general store, and mobile showers. There was even a wonderful area called the Antarctic with incredible visuals to enjoy!

After making ourselves comfortable in our new home for the weekend, my group and I explored what the campgrounds had to offer. An activities tent with a large game of “4 In a Row” was available, a Vintage Shop full of Coachella fashion for the weekend, charging stations, a variety of food including one of my favorite breakfast items, the acai bowl, and a silent disco where we would party after hours. Our first day was spent at the campgrounds cooling off enjoying some cold beers, and good vibes all around. My favorite part about camping is meeting new people and partying with our campsite neighbor’s.

Day One

As day one of Coachella began, the sun was bright and it was a scorcher! Most of my day time was spent at the Do Lab, Mohave, and Yuma tent to avoid heat exhaustion. At the Do Lab I was able to catch an artist by the name of Barclay Crenshaw. I hadn’t previously listened to his music, but he took me on a trip with his unique style and sounds. As the day progressed I would not be missing out on any of the delicious Coachella food. I had been dreaming of the day I would be able to enjoy crab fries, since my last visit to Coachella. Needless to say, this was my first stop when it came to food inside of the festival.

Photo Credit:  Eric DeLeon

Photo Credit: Eric DeLeon

The sun began to set on the first day, and the evening took flight. The first night, in my opinion, had the most electronic dance music which was fit to my taste. I saw DJs such as Richie Hawtin and Steve Angello, however, I also managed to catch Radiohead and Travis Scott as well. The DJ I was the most excited to see was Dillon Francis, who played an incredible set to close out the night and was also the main highlight of my weekend.

Day Two

Our day came out to a slow start as we were exhausted from the previous night. Day two was hotter than the first, and with every hour the sun became more intense. We enjoyed the comfort of the air conditioning in the Yuma tent for a few hours while listening to the sounds of Chris Cruse and Honey Dijon. Our relaxed start allowed us more energy, and prevented us from overexertion.

As far as artists go, day two held the most diversity for me. I enjoyed artists that I normally do not listen to, such as Bon Iver, Future, Gucci Mane, Lady Gaga and Schoolboy Q. Future was the best part of my second day of Coachella, as I found a new appreciation and love for his music. Afterward, we went to the Mohave tent and watched Moderat perform, a group in which I had never previously heard of, but was dancing along their music with all my heart and soul. My night was filled with a variety of music genres that I do not normally listen, but I made room in my schedule to see Martin Garrix to get my dance music fix for the night, right before Gucci Mane came onto the stage at the Sahara tent. We concluded day two of Coachella with none other than Lady Gaga.

Day Three

Being completely honest, by day three, we were beat. It was our fourth day on the campgrounds, supplies were running low, and the heat continued to intensify. Sunday was the hottest day of the entire weekend. Although we were drained from the heat, my group and I were determined to make the best of our final day at Coachella. In my opinion, Sunday had the most fun lineup of the weekend. I was able to catch the final show of Madeon and Porter Robinson’s “Shelter” tour, Hans Zimmer, Sasha, Galantis, and Kendrick Lamar to close out the weekend. Sunday came and went much quicker than I expected, but I had the time of my life.

Things That Could Improve

Right of the bat, this year seemed a little more unorganized, compared to my previous Coachella experience. Despite the fact that we arrived in line by 5am, entrance into the campgrounds was a 3 hour long process to even get to our camping spot. Normally the campgrounds open at 9am on Thursday morning, however, due to the high volume of festival goers arriving so early, they opened the gates early to accommodate everyone. We came with five other cars and it took us over an hour to find each other in the waiting area. In previous year’s, right after security check we would immediately be set to the side so our group would not be too far behind. This time around was absolute madness. I hope they can re-implement this tactic to optimize the flow of entry.

Needless to say... the restrooms were a disaster. Music festivals aren’t exactly the place where I expect to find the most luxurious bathrooms, but at least provide something relatively sanitary and usable. The mobile showers were the same as they were in my previous visit to Coachella, if you get up early, you can avoid the long lines. I used the cold showers every day as it was the only real relief I could get from the blistering heat. Next, I feel that more shaded and cooling areas should be implemented for the attendees to escape the heat during the day. A canopy can only cover so much of the sun, and even that gets hot after a while. Most of the time when I was looking for shade in the campgrounds or throughout Coachella, I could only find the slightest amount under a short palm tree.

Finally... exiting the campgrounds could have been faster and more efficient. We left camp right after the festival on Sunday, and it took us over an hour to get out. If more of the exits were being utilized, this process could have been much faster.

How was your Coachella? What were your favorite sets, and what do you think could have used improvement?


Beyond Wonderland The Endless Sea - 2017 Review

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 BenassiKnife 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?

Countdown NYE - 2016 Review

Over this recent New Year’s Celebration, Insomniac’s Countdown NYE took place at the NOS Event Center in San Bernardino, California, returning with two epics nights of music.  This year’s lineup brought DJs such as Alesso, The Chainsmokers, Deorro, Showtek, Seven Lions and many more. Though temperatures were low (reaching below 50 degrees), and rain fell throughout the event, it did not stop thousands of festival goers from attending and closing out 2016 with a bang!

In previous years, the event had not been properly prepared for cold weather, for Californians at least. Countdown NYE 2015 was particularly chilly as temperatures reached 37 degrees Fahrenheit and heaters were scarcely available at a small picnic area where dozens crowded around them to keep warm. The entrance was also significantly more difficult if you had arrived later in the festival. It took my group and I over an hour to get into the event, so this is why early arrival is highly suggested to avoid long lines and waits. Nonetheless, improvements can always be made when it comes to the flow of entry by providing more attendants to check identifications, scan tickets, and inspect personal belongings, especially during peak hours.

Photo Credit: Insomniac Events

Photo Credit: Insomniac Events

Despite a few negatives from the previous year’s event, Insomniac made major improvements for the 2016 NYE festival. Installing a heated tent, and a much larger Resolution Stage production, this included an impressive megastructure and incredible visuals for every artist. The heated tent was a huge hit amongst ravers since it provided an area to escape both the cold and the rain for a while, and simply room to relax and take a break from dancing in the crowds. In future Countdown events, it would be great to see more of the indoor structures be put to use to accommodate to the winter season, along with the return of the ice rink. The main negative I found this year was that there was not a sufficient amount of free water stations, as there was only one placed within the entire venue. However, there is no doubt that Countdown NYE was a success as we left 2016, and entered 2017 with thousands of our closest friends.

Photo Credit: Insomniac Events

Photo Credit: Insomniac Events

The festivities continue throughout the month of January which Insomniac has stacked with events such as Audio on the Bay, Dreamstate SF, and Excision to name a few! How will you be kicking off your 2017?

Let me know in the comments below!