Feature Photo Credit: Graham John Bell for Insomniac Events
The country’s longest running dance music festival, Nocturnal Wonderland, provided festival goers with a whimsical and spellbinding experience tucked within the hills of the Glen Helen Amphitheater. This was the festival’s last hurrah at the venue so as the final notes blasted out of the speakers the culmination of the festival was even more bittersweet than usual.
Nocturnal, in our humble opinion, holds the title for absolutely nicest festival goers you could ever share a set with. Chalk it up to the seasoned vets who attend or just the beautiful surroundings keeping everyone in high spirits – either way you’re guaranteed to leave Nocturnal Wonderland with some new friends, or at the very least, some very thoughtful kandi. The wide array of music attracts everyone from bassheads to house aficionados, but the overarching vibe is overwhelmingly the connections with one another and happiness.
Insomniac is never one to skimp on an event and each year Nocturnal exhibits this in a very special way. From the entrance of the festival, you’re immediately thrust into a new, mind-boggling world. Sounds of nature fill your ears, your clothing illuminates in blues and pinks and creatures creep and crawl among the crowd; all this transpires before you even get a glimpse of a stage! At the top of the hill sat the Labyrinth, a towering stage with LED screens resembling a vortex of shapes and swirls. The Wolves’ Den sat near the camping entrance and boasted a massive stack of seemingly undulating levels of screens and scaffolding. Nestled between the two was the Sunken Garden, a beacon of house and techno in the form of a steampunk lighthouse. The Parliament Art Car made it’s West coast debut, tucked in the far corner of the festival grounds. Enthusiastic crowds gathered in front of the neon streaked vehicle that was parked among trees dotted with pink, blue and green lights.
The lineup for Nocturnal proved that not only can superstars like Zeds Dead and DJ Snake pack a stage til the last note is played, but also that the underground is alive and well. Those who made the trek up the hill to the Labyrinth were rewarded dearly with acts like EPROM, Bleep Bloop and G Jones hypnotizing the crowds. Dr. Fresch and SayMyName took the Wolves Den from day into night and ran the gamut from addictive bass house to snarling hardstyle. Fans from across the venue journeyed to the lighthouse for a B2B known for mesmerizing those nearby, Camelphat and Solardo. Parliament Art Car was home to many legends, one of which who was Mat Zo who blessed attendees with a rare DNB set. The vibes were high for this remarkable set, and those who witnessed it would surely agree an hour was a cruel but welcome tease.
There was no shortage of loyal Nocturnal lovers taking one last look at their beloved Glen Helen as the event moves on to a yet-to-be-disclosed location for 2020. Pasquale has confirmed the festival’s new destination will stay true to the spirit of Nocturnal, natural settings and all. What are your predictions for Nocturnal Wonderland 2020?