Insomniac made its much-anticipated debut to the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend with the Beyond Wonderland series. An event previously reserved for Insomniac’s most represented city, LA, Beyond Wonderland Bay Area showed a significant step in Insomniac’s quest to bring its high-flying, communal rave culture to every corner of California.
Held at the Oracle Arena’s O.Co Coliseum Complex in Oakland Saturday night, Beyond Wonderland was a one-day festival that highlighted the best aspects of Insomniac–the atmosphere and the talent. The fact that this was a one-day event did not deter the decorative grounds at all; hilarious bouncing animals, bowling pins, and speakers trotted amongst the crowds of people filling the three-stage event. The tentacled ceiling fixtures common at festivals of this type were used tastefully under the two covered tents, with the third stage being a smaller, open-air one.
As far as talent goes, I will say that I had some questions as to the scheduling choices (particularly, why W&W was at 6:45pm–strange choice given their late-night style). Regardless, the selection was excellent, and included names like Avicii, Alesso, Clockwork and his RL Grime trap project, and electronic pioneers Orbital. A few acts of note included vocal/DJ trio Shermanology of Blessed and Can’t Stop Me fame, in what has been their biggest US solo booking to date. Oftentimes at a massive, the vocalist either can’t hear themselves, they don’t have the vocal stamina to sing over the production in such a loud atmosphere, or they simply were so computerized in the studio that they don’t have the chops to pull off their performance live. Not so for Shermanology; vocalists Dorothy, Leon and Andy wowed the crowd with their powerful, yet effortless vocals that penetrated the night in a way that actually enhanced the experience.
Sander van Doorn also laid down a particularly electro-heavy set, with perhaps the biggest crowd reaction going to the increasingly popular Alvaro track, Make The Crowd GO. Orbital closed out the night at Caterpillar Garden with a highly experimental set that invoked pieces of dubstep, drum & bass, and pretty much any other electronic genre you can think of. The lights attached to their heads to better see their equipment gave them an almost alien-like appearance to the late-night crowd.
Save a few blips that happen at the first iteration of any festival in a new location (and an apparently large number of noise complaints), Beyond Wonderland Bay Area was a smashing success. Having recently moved to the West coast, this was my first “non-EDC” Insomniac event I’ve attended. Given the spectacular times had by all, I look forward to the next one I attend with excited anticipation. Next up for Insomniac? The Halloween-themed Escape From Wonderland in San Bernardino at the NOS Events Center. Get your tickets here.