19 Years In The Making : Nocturnal Wonderland 2014

*written by Crystal Garcia for Electronica Life

The first week of September may bring the end of summer fun for some as school begins again, but for over 55,000 electronic music enthusiasts it was only the beginning of one of the most anticipated weekends of the year in Southern California. The 19th annual Nocturnal Wonderland festival returned to the San Manuel Amphitheater & Grounds in San Bernardino, CA for two full days of endless festivities. Nocturnal Wonderland is not only Insomniac Events longest running festival, but has also become North America’s longest running dance music festival!

The San Manuel Amphitheater transformed for two days and three nights as Nocturnal attendees were also invited to camp at the grounds adjacent to the festival. During the sun drenched days a water park was available, and campers were invited to keep the party going into the wee hours of the morning at the on-site silent disco.

As festival revelers entered the lush landscape, they were greeted by a towering Zen Owl inviting them to explore the mystery and enchantment of Wonderland that lay before their eyes. Just beyond yonder of the mainstage, a neon glowing boombox planted itself on a downwards hill hosting a variety of DJ’s inside for the entertainment of passers by. Many who passed through grooved to the music as they made their way to another stage, but a few who just couldn’t help themselves opted to stay and get lost in deep beats.
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Lit up lily pad’s gave relief to tired feet, as they served as one of many meet up points for attendees to reunite with new and old friends alike. The festival perimeter was adorned with colorful lights that could put any Christmas show to shame. Festival lights twinkled and sparkled in the basking glow of a moonlight sky, as an array of patterned clouds complimented the vast festival scenery in a hilltop view from above.

Keeping true to the original Wonderland brand theme of Alice in Wonderland, the “Upside Down Room” stage was a sight easily mistaken for a movie set. As the name says it, the stage was literally an upside down room. A hanging chandelier adorned the dance floor, and upside down furniture furnished rooms on the outskirts of the dancefloor as a place to rest for weary dancers.

On the second night, house legends took over the stage paying homage to the festival that began as they were each paving the way in their musical careers. Lenny V opened the stage on Saturday followed by a B2B performance between Mark Farina and DJ Heather. Bad Boy Bill, Charles Feelgood, Donald Glaude and DJ Dan continued the legendary performances, and delivered what many long time fans had been eagerly anticipating : a night of soulful, groovy, deep and funky house music.
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The “Queen’s Ground” Stage was the home for Trance lovers on Friday as Jaytech, Super8 & Tab, Myon & Shane 54, TYDI, and Tritonal graced the stage for a night of goosebump inducing vocals and angelic melodies.

On Saturday, the crowd received a proper Melbourne Bounce set with a three way B2B by Will Sparks, Joel Fletcher and Timmy Trumpet. The three talented young Aussies took the audience by storm in one of the most energetic performances of the weekend. Joel Fletcher took charge of the decks as Will Sparks was a burst of energy on stage, and had the entire crowd bouncing to Timmy’s live trumpet version of tracks vibrating from the speakers.

Timmy even dared crossing the element with his rendition of Tiesto’s classic take on “Adagio For Strings.” The execution was perfection and the crowd went absolutely nuts. Raw, real and uncut talent fulfilled this magical performance as fans were encouraged to interact in the live experience.

On Friday, Netsky delivered a top notch set at the Bassrush hosted Drum & Bass stage “Sunken Garden.” The Belgian DJ dropped fan favorites “Come Alive“ and  “Everyday (Netsky Remix)”, while also introducing Nocturnal Wonderland to his new vocal collab “Running Low.” MC frontman Steve Script MC, worked the audience into a head bobbing wave while Netsky unleashed his signature infectious beats and heart pumping inducing heavy bass.
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The Glitch Mob closed out the Sunken Garden with one of the most memorable performances of the festival. With their electrifying stage presence, the trio rocked their hour and a half closing set from beginning to end. Glittering lasers bouncing from the stage complimented the thumping bass lines and soaring chords of The Glitch Mob’s distinctive and rich sound.

The “Labyrinth” made itself at home as Nocturnal’s mainstage inviting the likes of headlining acts  Arty, Mat Zo, and Rehab among many others into it’s sacred space. The Mad Hatter and March hare made their larger than life appearances alongside the overseeing Zen Owl. The entire stage flickered with every beat drop in a dizzying display of lasers and pulsating color changing lights.

Although he was late for a very important date, Nicky Romero still fulfilled his mainstage duties with crowd frenzying drops , despite being forty minutes late. Martin Garrix and Bingo players closed out each night at the Labyrinth with dazzling firework displays igniting the night sky dispersing from the mainstage with every drop and DJ invoked countdown.

With each passing year, the production value that Insomniac dedicates to their events surpasses any and all expectations held. Festival attendees are encouraged to explore a world beyond their wildest dreams in a land of wonder and mystery complete with electrifying carnival rides, jubilant performers, interactive art installations, innovative production, and multiple stages of world class music. We congratulate Insomniac for the 19 year strong run of Nocturnal Wonderland, and cheers in anticipation for the next Nocturnal Wonderland 20th Anniversary year!
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