Beyond Wonderland returned to the Bay Area this year for its third year in a row, transforming Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA into a real-life wonderland. Upon entering the grounds, everything was carefully thought out from head to toe. With the same blue hookah-smoking caterpillar we got to dance together with last year, a new scenic backdrop, and fully decorated trees that engulfed the grounds, the efforts put forth by Insomniac Events created a world straight from the book Alice in Wonderland. Insomniac Events’ founder and CEO, Pasquale Rotella, preaches about wanting attendees to have an experience, not attend a concert and Beyond was just that, an incredible experience. From a ball-pit to exceptional costumes on both dancers and attendees, those of you who attended Beyond Wonderland last weekend can attest to the amazing vibes all around. The line-up was well-rounded also, including different types of electronic music acts that everyone could enjoy. Artists included Kaskade, Above & Beyond, Pendulum, R3hab, and Dada Life.
My friends and I got there early the second day and decided to go find the ball pit. What an amazing experience that was. Side note, when asking for something like finding a ball pit, the Insomniac Ground Control Team are the people to ask. Those are the volunteer kids in the purple shirts and they are awesome. We asked a security guard first who pointed us in the completely wrong direction. We finally found the ball pit which was right next to Queen’s Domain. You could still hear the music and play in a ball pit with no time limit as long as you were willing to wait your turn in line. We only had to wait about 15 minutes and the security guy even offered to take pictures. It was like being five again.
The Boombox Stage was my personal favorite. There was something about the boombox art car bumping deep house with the graffiti back drop and the old spray painted car to make me feel like I was back at Burning Man. It was special. Insomniac even had characters there playing limbo with attendees; interaction fun that is rare to see at other types of festivals. I stumbled upon a tea party at the Boombox the second day with all the characters you saw dancing on Queen’s Domain hanging out, never breaking character. The dancers and characters even allowed you to take pictures with them and wanted you to interact with them. The quote from the book itself, “we’re all mad here” couldn’t have been more perfect.
Although the power cut out on the audio for a very brief moment, Above & Beyond’s set was one of my favorite sets of the weekend. The Bay Area has a strong trance music presence and Above & Beyond was a perfect close to night one for Beyond. Their ambient trance with harder notes got you dancing, smiling, and crying. Day two, Kaskade closed the night with an amazing set, fireworks, and a massive dancing octopus and caterpillar in the heart of the crowd. San Francisco is a special place for Kaskade and you could really hear that in his set.
For those interested in heading to Beyond Wonderland either in northern or southern California, prepare for an experience because this is not just another festival, this is wonderland.
Photos by Bennett Sell, Marc Van der Aa, and Gino Troian, and Doug VanSant of Insominac.
By Tiffany Wood FestPop, Sr. Staff Writer