Music Festival

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.

DAY ONE

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.

DAY TWO

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.

FEEDBACK

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?

Lightning In A Bottle 2017 - Lineup Has Arrived!

LIB is right around the corner and tickets are ALREADY 50% Sold Out! The remaining tickets go on sale Tuesday, 1/24 at 10am PST. Click Here to purchase!

General Admission 4-day tickets are $280 plus fees with the additional Early Arrival Pass add-on for $75.  Lightning in a Bottle also offers a Monthly Payment Plan for all ticket purchases. For the fancy campers, there is also a NEW option in boutique camping that includes in-tent AIR CONDITIONING.

The event will be taking place Memorial Day Weekend, May 24th to May 29th at the San Antonio Recreation Area in Bradley, CA.

Headliners Include: Bassnectar, Bonobo, TroyBoi, Rüfüs Du Sol, Kaytranada, Bob Moses, Richie Hawtin, & Leon Vynehall.  

FULL LINEUP

LIB-2017-Lineup-Poster-HIRES (1).jpg

LIGHTNING STAGE

Bassnectar, Bonobo, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Kaytranada, Bob Moses, Jhené Aiko, Bomba Estéreo, Big Wild, Weval,NoMBe, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Nicola Cruz, Brasstracks, Wafia, Vallis Alps, Climbing Poetree, IHF, Two Feet, Wildlight, The Seshen, Madame Gandhi, El Papachango, Jeremy Sole & Friends, Demo Taped


THUNDER STAGE

TroyBoi, Paper Diamond, Perfect Stranger, Machinedrum, eDIT, Sam Gellaitry, Calyx & Teebee, Fakear, Kalya Scintilla & Eve Olution, Barclay Crenshaw, Dimond Saints, iLL.GATES B2B Stephan Jacobs, The Range, Ivy Lab, Psymbionic, StéLouse, Headphone Activist, Hedflux, Elohim, Asadi, Frameworks, CRi, Erica Dee, Plantrae, Jade Cicada, Charlesthefirst, Maddy O'Neal, spacegeishA, Magic Moments


THE WOOGIE

Richie Hawtin, Nic Fanciulli, Hernan Cattaneo, Stephan Bodzin, Leon Vynehall, tINI, Guy J, Christian Smith, Robag Wruhme, Eagles & Butterflies, Lauren Lane, Adam Port, Satori, Monolink, Julia Govor, Kotelett&Zadak, KMLN, Mark Slee, Marques Wyatt, Fleetwood Smack, MASHA


THE GRAND ARTIQUE

Too Many Zooz, Elephant Revival, The California Honeydrops, ORGŌNE, Dirtwire, Zack Deputy, Vokab Kompany, B-Side Players, W.C. Thornbush & The Great American Show, Herbert Bail Orchestra, Gene Evaro Jr, Edith Crash, The Delirians, Andrew Sheppard, Cactus Wine Experience, CARLO, Boostive, Shovelman, The Bloodhounds, Bootleg Sunshine, Cannibal Catering Company, Israel Maldonado, Tah Rei, The Great American Talent Show, Lucia Soaring Diamonds, Those Folk, JoaqoPelli, Brenda Carsey & The Awe, The Little Miss, Jeremiah and The Red Eyes, Breck, Dolan, Dusty, Wagons aka Mugger


Watch the Official LIB 2017 Video below :)


LET US KNOW WHO YOU'RE MOST EXCITED TO SEE, BELOW!

Mom's First Rave

This year, I had the pleasure of attending Countdown NYE for the second time in a row. What made this year extra special was being able to share the experience with my mom! After attending Insomniac events for six years, she had never quite understood what keeps me coming back, or why I am so passionate about electronic music. My mom’s first rave was one to remember, as she had a firsthand experience to learn what raves are all about.

My Mom’s Views Prior To Her First Rave

Before attending, my mom had only heard what I had told her from my personal experiences going to previous festivals/events as well as how the media had portrayed them. Her prior views on raves had been shaped as being a fun but not an entirely safe or positive place to be. I had tried to place myself in her shoes, to understand her views as a parent. She had several concerns with me attending music festivals, especially after hearing the news about some of the unfortunate deaths of a few attendees; however, she also understands that I am a safe and responsible person. I have always come back with a positive story to tell about my festival adventures, and the great people I have met along the way. This is what led to her participation…

The Experience

My mom and I had the pleasure of going to Countdown NYE in style… VIP style!  I did not want her to have to deal with the long entry lines, so I made her entry process as smooth as possible. As we entered the NOS Center, my mom’s eyes lit up with excitement as she experienced the beautiful sights and sounds within the venue. As we arrived to the Resolution Stage, she was immediately in awe at the video production. We spent the majority of our evening at this stage, but not before exploring the entire venue, including Vendor Village and the many art installations. The highlight of her night was when Steve Aoki came onto the stage and played what she quoted as “The most energetic and exciting set of the night!”

Truly, she was amazed at how incredibly friendly and accepting the ravers were about her attending her first rave. Many people came up to us to say hello, trade, and even give us hugs. My mom’s immediately asked… “Do you know them?” My answer was “no”, but I continued to explain to her that raves are a place where you can be yourself, meet new people, make friends, and just express positive vibes. At the end of the evening, my mom had said, “There was not a single negative thing or person we came across the entire night, I now understand why you enjoy these events so much.”

Trading Kandi with My Mom - Countdown NYE 2016

Trading Kandi with My Mom - Countdown NYE 2016

Her Thoughts and Views After Attending

To be honest, my mom was EXHAUSTED. Once the event had concluded she asked me, “How do you do this for three days straight?” (Referring to the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas); however, despite being tired, she left with nothing but positive thoughts about raving. She may even attend another event during a warmer season. My mom enjoyed raging the night away with me and said that her views are no longer based on media bias, but on her own personal experience. She finds raves to be a constructive experience as well as sends a message that everyone should attend, at least once in their life.

My Takeaway

I have wanted to take my mom to a rave for quite a while, but until recently her work schedule has not allowed her the time to attend. I am very grateful that she had such a fantastic time and is now able to fully grasp why I am so passionate about being a part of the dance music community. As most ravers have never had the opportunity to attend an event with their parent, I am able to say that this has been one of the best festival experiences of my life. It was incredibly rewarding to share this adventure with her and I hope for many more to come!


Would you ever bring your parent to a rave?                                            

Let me know in the comments below!


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!


4 Key Steps To Maintaining Positive Vibes At Your Next Festival

The dance music festival environment has been rapidly changing which has led to frustration for many ravers along the way. But who or what is to blame? Is it Social Media, is it the “new-raver,” or the person who is there for the “wrong” reasons - and what are the right reasons? There are several factors that go into creating the perfect vibe at any particular event, but we all have our own individual sentiment on how a dance music festival should be. With the rapid explosion of EDM popularity, it’s easy to understand why the environment within the rave community is changing. If you happen to be one of the frustrated ones (and you’re not alone), then this short list could help you maintain a positive vibe and attitude at every festival you attend.

1) Patience, Patience, Patience!

We’ve all been there. You waited an eternity sitting in traffic and you’ve finally arrived at the festival so now you’re extra excited to see your favorite DJ. You run to the event with your friends and get there just in time to realize… so is everyone else! There’s a massive line to enter the gates and people are NOT happy! But what can you do? That’s right, RUSH THE GATES! That was a joke. Please don’t ever do that. Nothing says patience like stampeding your fellow ravers in an attempt to get in 10 minutes early with the risk of getting kicked out or arrested. Instead, exercise your ability to be patient. YOU WILL GET INSIDE, just not always as soon as you hoped. So don’t let this ruin your night, or anyone else around you who may be feeding off of the negative energy surrounding you.

2) Arrive Early.

Showing up early can help you avoid having to deal with long entry lines altogether. I know many of us like to pre-game and arrive fashionably late, but with rising festival costs, consider it financially beneficial to arrive early while getting the most out of your wallet and the festival experience. This is also a great time to go inside with your friends, get a feel for the venue, and a good opportunity to make new friends before it gets too crazy. Familiarizing yourself with the venue while it’s relatively early can help you to avoid potential pitfalls by finding meet-up spots, stages, restroom, and, worst case scenario, the medic tent. It’s always better to be safe then sorry.

3) Respect the Staff and Volunteers.

Some of the people working hard to make these events happen are not even getting paid. Respect that and listen to them. It’s not going to make your night or theirs go any better if you decide to not comply with what they have been trained to tell you. The ticket scanners are not trying to deliberately spite you with any potential system or computer glitches. When dealing with staff, know that things may go wrong. Ticket scanners may stop functioning, the system could cut out, the festival crew could be short staffed for whatever reason, a change in weather could affect logistics, and if you’re lucky enough to have to deal with Will Call you may get stuck with all of the above - but don’t fret, or get upset with the workers; know that these things happen, and if you frequent many festivals you‘ve learned that they often do. Whatever it is, know that the staff is working extra hard to resolve every issue within their power. Try your best to brighten their day and your own through mutual respect. Enjoy the experience safely, and responsibly.

4) Understanding.

As the rave scene rapidly expands, the festival environment is becoming more diverse with the influx of new festival-goers. Whether you’re a new raver or consider yourself O.G., taking the time to understand this new shift in environment (as well as past traditions) is crucial to maintaining positive vibes at each and every festival you attend. Remember, it starts with YOU! More and more you may find yourself crossing paths with someone who may have never attended a rave, or is not even familiar with the culture. Depending on the circumstances, it can be easy to ruffle someone’s feathers, so taking time to try and understand where they may be coming from can help maintain your own positive mindset. A rave is a place where all are welcome, so if someone happens to rub you the wrong way, take a step back and re-evaluate the situation. We all come from different walks of life, with different beliefs, and differing tastes in music so introduce yourself, but don’t force it. Some people don’t like being bothered, which is completely up to them. This also tends to be the case for many newcomers who might be a little weirded out by the whole thing. They may be experiencing it for the first time, so don’t scare them by getting in their face, even if it is with your bubbly personality :) If you happen to be someone who gets a little freaked out when a glover (those “glowy finger dancers”) starts wiggling their hands in your face, don’t get angry.  Instead, kindly let them know you’re not interested, they will understand.

Sometimes we experience negativity which makes it easy to confuse where dance music culture is going… but it’s up to us to remember what it’s all about and set the tone for others to follow.


Header photo source: Insomniac Events