Nocturnal Wonderland: Insomniac Does It Again

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San Bernardino, Calif.—Ain’t no party like a West Coast party. From the DJs to the crowd, Southern California knows what’s up. And it happened once again, this time at Insomniac Events’ longest running festival, Nocturnal Wonderland.

Running since 1995, Nocturnal expanded to two days (Sept. 23-24) at the NOS Event Center in San Bernardino. Day 1, kicked off by Insomniac staple Trent Cantrelle on the main Alice’s House stage showed the fans were quite a bit more educated and open to new sounds—more so than Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas this past June. Though only three of the five stages were open on Friday, as the sun set, it was packed from stage to the back of the massive tent structures.

“I think the atmosphere is great [at Nocturnal], because it’s outside,” said Nicky Romero after his set.

Bossi of Germany’s Cosmic Gate agreed: “Us Europeans love coming to California! America and California are taking over! It’s got the best energy and we can’t wait for next time.”

Though the production on the main and side stages looks significantly less intricate than last year’s Nocturnal, the average attendee didn’t seem to notice. The vibe was right—it was a village of EDM fans coming together. It also didn’t hurt Insomniac’s poster boy, performer Nigel Ficke—adorned in gold spandex pants and pasties—was spreading the sexy around. “There’s no key to being dead sexy,” said Ficke backstage. “It’s whether you have it or you don’t. Some people have it and some people don’t.” He added in his Australian accent, never breaking character, “And for those people, they can spend time, you know, around me, ’cause it rubs off—literally!”

Back to the Music: As Fedde le Grand closed out Day 1 with a killer electro set that was one of the weekend’s top offerings. One could only wish the party continued right into the next day, but alas, everyone had to go home at 2 a.m. (Gotta give it to Vegas that EDC went until 6 a.m., thanks to more lenient time restrictions.)

Day 2 saw full use of the entire event grounds and it filled up even faster. From Morgan Page to Glenn Morrison, Cosmic Gate, Gabriel & Dresden, Kaskade and more, it was a veritable who’s who of all the important producers known to fans. “Very professional, terrific, educated crowd,” Canadian DJ/producer Glenn Morrison commented after coming off stage. “I really enjoyed it.”

The overall consensus from talent and fans alike was the level of musical education the crowd displayed, though the newbies were just as receptive, if they were taken on the right journey. “The biggest thing is the quality of the talent you’re playing with and all the sounds they bring in is huge,” said Morgan Page before taking the main stage. “All the people I get to play with? Kaskade and Alesso, they’re on the cutting edge!”

About his set for Nocturnal, Page added: “I think I play bigger songs, more familiar mash-ups, but with longer breakdowns—a harder sound, a little trancier.”

All in all, the only obvious disappointment with both days of Nocturnal was that it was over too soon when Kaskade played his final track on Day 2. But then again, isn’t it better to leave them craving more?

—Deanna Rilling