San Bernardino, Calif.—The kids like the techno!
If that is the one thing I took away from Beyond Wonderland—Insomniac’s EDM massive held this past March 16 at San Bernardino’s San Manuel Amphitheater and Grounds—then maybe there’s hope for the future of electronic music in America. Yes, Beyond Wonderland presented Afrojack, David Guetta and Steve Angello, but it seemed that some new, tougher sounds took hold.
While festivals are the perfect outlet for discovering new music and digging deeper, commercial EDM still abounded periodically at the five stages (yes, people are still dropping “Show Me Love”). The most rewarding sight and standout moment, however, was thousands of revelers grooving to the sounds of Umek. Were they all familiar with the Slovenian techno titan? Probably not, but whomever planned the set times did so with perfection. Attendees got to dig into something outside the box and Umek gladly drilled them with relentless, rolling beats.
The underground communion appeared to begin during a fantastic set on the Queen’s Domain main stage from Trent Cantrelle. It proved that DJs can still get those “hands-in-the-air” moments without capitulating and playing only the hits. (Cantrelle included quite a bit of his tasty original material, such as “Robot” and “Freak”). It was nice to see Insomniac finally move Cantrelle to a later time slot after always playing opener at the company’s events.Beyond Wonderland © Insomniac
Then Bassjackers played … well … exactly how you’d expect Bassjackers to play, so that offered a good time to wander over and catch some sweet sounds, courtesy of Maya Jane Coles on the Cheshire Woods stage. The girl rocked it.
But when Umek took over the main stage, you could see that the masses are finally starting to dig deeper and appreciate the subtle nuances of an electronic education. Sure, the crowd’s penchant for staying at the main stage could be attributed to the fact the new venue was so massive and spread out, many were complaining about the lengthy walk from area to area (including a steep hill that had to be navigated to get from one side of the grounds to the other). Perhaps they just gave up on migrating around, as I admittedly did as the evening drew on. But no matter, Beyond Wonderland got a dose of proper techno and one could see new fans being made with each beat—and the fireworks mid-set only heightened the moment.
Bravo, Beyond Wonderland.
– Deanna Rilling