Festival Report Card

Festival Report Card: Beyond Wonderland SoCal 2023

Beyond Wonderland Socal 2023 was one of the best ways to kick off the festival season for Southern California ravers. The event drew in thousands of fans, all eager to journey down the rabbit hole.

Beyond Wonderland featured an incredible lineup, including Kaskade, Svdden Death, J. Worra, Excision, JSTJR, and many more talented artists who kept the energy high and the crowd dancing all weekend long. From the captivating visuals to immersive art installations, the trippy atmosphere did not disappoint.

Overall, we had a mostly good time, it was only because of the production and amazing sets from the artists. 

However, we do have to be completely honest and say we did not feel safe because of how crowded the event was. There were many instances where areas of the festival felt congested and the crowd felt didn’t embody PLUR, leading us to give the venue a grade of a D+.  

We understand we have been too gracious with this venue in the past, but this weekend was extremely unsafe. Our team experienced it firsthand. Since Okeechobee, our team has really reflected on safety and will be amplifying our concerns and the concerns of the community louder than ever before. 

Check out EDM Maniac’s full report of the event below:

Zachary Lefevre for Insomniac Events

Vibes: B-

The vibes were high throughout the weekend as everyone was excited to kick off festival season and we met many wonderful people as we explored the festival grounds. Beyond being an 18+ event, there were many young ravers attending for the first time or returning with their rave fam.

Day one was less packed than day two and many people did say “excuse me”, but the pushing through the crowd was a recurring theme. By Saturday, most stages felt packed leaving people struggling to get out of stages between sets, especially at Queen’s Domain (main stage). We even heard many accounts of people getting trampled at the Queen’s Domain stage and this left many afraid for their safety in some situations.

On day two a lot of people went over their limits. There was a line forming at Ground Control’s Oasis as well as many people posted up by the heaters throughout the festival. That being said, it was still an overall enjoyable weekend and we hope everyone made it home safely.

Production: A

Beyond’s production was beautiful throughout the entire festival. The performers, art installations, stage designs, and photo ops were all crafted with keen attention to detail, resulting in a visually stunning experience for all attendees.

Insomniac added a brand-new art installation, Anniversary Lane, in celebration of the 30-year anniversary of Insomniac Events, where attendees could experience a showcase of memories playing on the screens from events throughout the years.

The stages were well designed throughout the festival, and the use of indoor warehouses for stages made a great escape from the cold.

Queen’s Domain, although overcrowded during most of the headlining performances, included the use of smaller screens running from the front to the back of the crowd, which made it so attendees could still see the artist performing even if they weren’t in the front.

Mad Hatter’s Castle, had the best sound quality by far. All the stage’s lasers and pyrotechnics combined with the performers’ artistic visuals created a sensory overload that left the crowd feeling immersed in the experience at each stage.

Jake West for Insomniac Events

Music: A

Beyond had an outstanding lineup of artists who brought their unique sound to the festival’s multiple stages.

Headliners such as Kaskade, Excision, and JSTJR delivered high-energy sets that had the crowd dancing from start to finish, while up-and-coming artists like J. Worra and Svdden Death impressed with their electrifying performances. The festival’s diverse lineup ensured there was something for everyone.

The diversity of genres and layout of stages made it easy to explore new artists while walking from set to set. As someone who listens to primarily dubstep, imagine my surprise when I realized I had enjoyed an entire trance set by Cosmic Gate.

Venue: D+

Overcrowding has become an issue at many festivals, and with this venue in particular we continue to receive reports from our team fearing for their safety.

Over the weekend, Beyond Wonderland had nearly 170,000 people over the course of two days.

Overcrowded festivals are not the vibe and are simply NOT safe. We have been gracious with our gradings in the past, but after recent incidents at festivals, and in respect for the community we have to speak honestly about how unsafe the community and our team feels about this venue. We hope things will change. 

That being said, the venue layout was simple, easy to navigate, and included lots of signage throughout the festival. Security at the entrance did check bags, but inside they were not as diligent about checking wristbands going into GA+ bathrooms and other areas that were restricted based on which ticket you purchased.

There was a point after the event when we were waiting for a shuttle back to our parking lot and some ravers eager to get home began pushing down the barricades to get ahead of the line. It became chaotic, dangerous, and scary. There was security right at the front of the line, but they were too busy smoking a cigarette to notice the stampede about to begin.

Orhun Uygur for Insomniac Events

Overall: B

Overall, Beyond Wonderland was a beautiful experience. Every set we saw was memorable, the lineup and the design created an unforgettable experience for all who attended.

However, it is important to note that the issue of overcrowding is a significant one. While the festival grounds were well-designed and easy to navigate, the sheer number of attendees made it difficult to move through the crowd, especially during peak hours. There were instances where areas of the festival felt congested, and the crowd felt less PLUR as a result.

It would have been better if the promoter had taken steps to address the overcrowding issue, such as limiting ticket sales or expanding the festival grounds. Understandably, a larger crowd means more revenue, but the safety and enjoyment of attendees should always be the top priority.

Featured image by Tyler Hill for Insomniac Events.

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