Last weekend, Insomniac Events hosted Beyond Wonderland at the National Orange Show Events Center for the first time since 2012. From 2012 to 2016 Beyond was held at the San Manuel Ampitheater. Unfortunately the event was forced back into its original home after serious pushback from the surrounding community.
Many fans were disappointed by this change. During its time at San Manuel, Beyond offered camping as well as a much more scenic landscape compared to the urbanized NOS Center. Insomniac regulars loved the sprawling grass of San Manuel and the huge production that such an environment allowed.
However, while the shift back to the NOS Center may not have been ideal for some, it represented a big step forward for all Insomniac events. This year’s Beyond marked the first time the NOS Center was laid out expertly.
The title of this year’s Beyond was “Beyond Wonderland: The Endless Sea.” If Insomniac had kept it’s standard lay out, a more fitting title would have been: “Beyond Wonderland: The Sardine Tank.”
Considering Insomniac had been using San Manuel for so many years before this event, they clearly understood that the NOS Center had issues with spacing. The hill where Main Stage was at San Manuel was probably bigger than the entire NOS Center. So when they were forced to return there for this year’s Beyond, they did what they do best in the face of change: they adapted.
Insomniac is no stranger to adaptation. Every raver in the US is familiar with the LA debacle that lead to the move to Vegas. What makes Insomniac so special is that adaptation for them always means improvement.
The main issues with the NOS Center prior to this years Beyond largely pertained to the Damus Building and the Citrus Building. These are the two permanent structures at the venue which have been used by Insomniac at almost every single event.
In past years, both of those buildings were used as stages for music. The Damus Building was commonly the bass stage while the Citrus Building was often the house/techno stage and one of the main entrances to the event was adjacent to both.
Because of this choice of layout, the Damus building would reach capacity every year and a large crowd would form outside the entrance. At the same time, people would be exiting the Citrus building and people would also be entering the venue causing a crowd of Black Friday proportions inside the venue. It was a fire hazard to say the least.
This year, however, Insomniac saw fit to get rid of this problem by removing the Damus building and an entrance from that equation. Now the only reason someone had to travel to that part of the venue was to enter the Dreamstate hosted Cheshire Cove (which had the best vibes of the festival without a doubt).
Suddenly it was like a whole new venue. The NOS Center, which was known for being cramped, was now flowing just like the ocean. Moving from stage to stage wasn’t just easy, it was effortless. People were exploring new sounds more than ever because they didn’t have to stay in the Damus building all day to make sure they weren’t stuck outside for their favorite artists. The only time there was a capacity issues was when Rezz came on in the Aquarium (Citrus Building), which wasn’t surprising because her set was one of the best of the weekend.
The lineup at this year’s Beyond was unfortunately stilted by the fact that Ultra and Miami Music Week were in full swing the same weekend. So many heavy-hitters were booked solid in Miami for upwards of five gigs across the same weekend, but what Beyond lost as far as talent was made up for by vibes.
Because of the lack of huge artists, music as a whole took a step back in this event. Of course artists like Hardwell still drew a MainStage-worthy crowd, but besides the obvious favorites, no stage was packed beyond belief or anything like that. The people at Beyond were simply happy to be there even if all their favorite artists were in Miami.
Maybe next year Insomniac will strategically place Beyond on another weekend. Hopefully they do because with this new layout, fans will be able to enjoy a first-rate lineup hassle free.