Over Labor Day weekend we traveled over to San Manuel Amphitheater for Insomniac’s 20th Anniversary of Nocturnal Wonderland. This year, Insomniac made Nocturnal a 3 day festival with 5 amazing stages, over 100 artists, a variety of genres to choose from, and tons of art installations and performing artists. The event started mid-day, so there was plenty of time for us to dance into the night. Guests were able to camp and grounds included extra activities like the silent disco, water slides, arts and crafts, and more. There were other things to see inside too, such as a history 101 tent, photo booths, and relaxation grounds to name a few. With a wide range of artists — from legends to up and coming acts — there was definitely something for everyone. With all that, here is our list of the top 3 things we loved about Nocturnal’s 20th Anniversary:
#3 – Art :
Insomniac has a reputation of decorating the venue with amazing artwork throughout and this year was no exception. When we were not jamming to the see music at one of the stages, we were exploring the grounds and seeing what they had to offer. As always, there where the performance artists — the costumed folks walking around the venue, making sure people were having a good time and really enhancing on the feel of Wonderland. You have rides like the YOYO shown above, light pads to jump around on, and a Toyota Station that allowed you to make sunglasses, get posters and a special Nocturnal limited bandana just to name a few things. As far as the art goes, this was not all. The stages were art at the highest level.
The Labyrinth was a master piece of its own, high detailed and elaborate. With a design that appeared to be a bunch of cards stacked up like a pyramid, with chess pieces on each side and lasers that were to die for. The lights in all of the cards really showed the amount of detail that was put into this stage, with screens and fireworks to cap it off, this was truly a work of art!
The Temple of OM had a golden Buddha as the center piece and the lighting to really make it pop. The Temple of OM was definitely a place to find peace with yourself and some amazing beats. With a great arsenal of Djs such as LA’s own Shmitty, Night Bass artist Bones, and Soul house producer Michael Calfan, there was no way that you would be able to find yourself not dancing at this stage.
# 2 – Costumes & Totems:
This should come as no surprise when attending any Insomniac event, we all know that everyone loves to come dressed as their favorite cartoon/anime characters, video game icons, movie characters and so on. Let’s agree this year was no different. We saw everything from DBZ, Pokemon, Batman, Cat Woman, Joker, Adventure Time and even a group of El Chapulín Colorado! Some of the costumes were far beyond simply buying a costume for a festival. We had seen a group of Star Wars helmets (Storm Troopers, Bobba Fetts and Darth Vader) with a complete LED setup on all of them. Now this was really cool! Another great one was Mega Man (AKA the Blue Bomber), which really took us back to the Nintendo days!
Along with an arsenal of different costumes, there was a abundance of different totems to enjoy! I would have to say that our favorite was the Bill Cosby one that was continuously spotted floating around the venue. There were plenty to choose from but as you can see, this one was perfect for a photo bombing— with a Bill Cosby face dreaming of #RAVEBOOTY. There was so many good totems that we could not help but stop and point out a funny one every 10 minutes. Another great one that we fell in love with is in the picture below, which leads us to our favorite part of Nocturnal Wonderland.
#1 – Adam Beyer presents Drum Code:
Adam Bayer took over the Sunken Garden on Saturday to bring his Drumcode stage and he brought a few friends along with him. Drumcode featured Adam Beyer, Alan Fitzpatrick, Bart Skils, Ida Engberg, the Queen of Techno, Nicole Moudaber, Reset Robot and Sam Paganini. We at EDMLA personally thought this was the best thing that Nocturnal had to offer. You could see the enthusiasm in all the fans that were there in attendance with their Drumcode totems and T-shirts. You may have heard a song lately by Destructo called “Techno” that features a line from Eminem’s “Without Me” in which he disses Moby, saying “nobody listens to techno!” It turns out that Eminem was sadly mistaken in saying that. Swarms of fans specifically went to Nocturnal for Drumcode and its arsenal of Techno. Drumcode label’s owner, Adam Beyer came in and showed us why he has such a huge following, the power to get his own stage at Nocturnal, and why he has been so successful over all these years. Adam delivered groovy beats that would get anyone going. He was also booked for a show in Los Angeles at Exchange LA for a exclusive extended set, but he made sure that we would not forget that he came and gave us something to remember. Nicole Moudaber came and showed us why they call her the “Queen of Techno” — she started with a track that hit you with bass so you knew she meant business. The crowd immediately responded with shouts of “we love you Nicole” and “we are in the mood” (which is a reference to her podcast and a play of words from her name). Nicole went on to take us on a journey with her dark sound and heavy bass, she also made sure to point out to her fans and acknowledge them when she noticed they were calling out to her. Sam Paganini was the closer for the night and I got to say, he delivered a set that stuck with me and took me on a journey. Sam brought us the signature sound, which has been described as “sexy groovy dark techno”. At one point Sam used Fingers Inc’s “My House”, which spun into heavy hitting beats that sent us all into a uproar. We were assaulted by the sounds of Drumcode and we loved it! With the high energy and dark beats we could not have asked for anything better that night!
Nocturnal sure did not disappoint us. It seemed that all of the Djs came with their A-game. We were blown away with the diversity in the lineup, the art installation, costumes and the all around vibes. There were artists we did not expect to take us on unforgettable journeys and we are ever so thankful for that. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Nocturnal in the years to come and recommend that you don’t miss out next year. Make sure to check the links below for some fan footage of Nocturnal as well as some of our photos from the event.
Insomniac continues to deliver with a experience that is top notch and does not disappoint. We were even fortunate to get to meet Pasquale Rotella and his daughter Rainbow during the show. We asked “what could be expected for future events?” With a smile he replied, “just be ready for EDC!” With all this being said, we highly recommend that you make sure to check out Insomniac’s EDC 20th Anniversary, which is set for June 2016. It is sure to be simply amazing!
Written by Fabian Ortiz for EDMLA.com