At music festivals, it’s easy to get lost in the main stage mayhem, especially with the stacked lineups of our modern times, but we at Insomniac want most to introduce you to new artists. Beyond Wonderland, happening this weekend at San Jose’s Shoreline Amphitheater, is flush with noteworthy acts that may still fly under your radar.
In hopes of inspiring you to try new things, we’re breaking down the weekend’s sounds for your expanded listening pleasure, and we advise you to explore on your own too. You never know what you might find.
If you like Brillz, check out Herobust and DeafMind.
Brillz’s 2013 album Twonk is a slice of pure trap heaven, proving the genre was not only alive two years back, but also that it had so much further to go. The LP’s 10 tracks blend elements of classic house with hip-hop and all things bass. As dark and gritty as it was, it was always energetic. When Brillz remixes Katy Perry and Galantis, his evil alterations fit right in. No doubt he’ll bring the party with some of Twonk’s biggest hits, as well as an arsenal of new originals and secret weapons from his friends.
From: Atlanta, GA
Releases on: Busted Records, OWSLA, Smog
Why we like him: This guy comes straight from A-town with an authentic take on grimy street beats fit to soundtrack your hustle and flow. His style is fresh, with heavy emphasis on fat bass notes and crunchy textures. He regularly remixes radio rap favorites in a series he calls Busted, lending dancefloor flair to hits including Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” and Post Malone’s “White Iverson.” His work is less festival synth and more low-key corner grinding, but that’s because he’s 100 percent Grade A, serving real trap ish.
Listen to this: Not only is “Skurt Reynolds” a hilarious song title, this jam makes good with the hook immediately. It’s dark but catchy, designed to get your girl dancing low and your bruhs mean-mugging. The drop is so gnarly, it’s illegal in most states.
From: Portland, OR
Releases on: Redcube Recordings, and more
Why we like them: These two dudes from Oregon sat inside the trap bubble and started pushing in all directions. They’ve made it harder, they’ve made it weirder, and they’ve made it bouncier than ever before. Sometimes it feels a little like dubstep, sometimes electro, and sometimes even hardstyle. The pair changes its style with every track, and for that, you’ve got to give props. Buckle your seatbelt, Beyond Wonderland, it’s going to be a wild ride.
Listen to this: In this single tune, DeafMind changes the style about three or four times. One minute, you’re crawling in the muck, the next, you’re soaring through the stars. Either way, you’re getting freaking down.
If you like Calvin Harris, check out SNR and Billon.
This is a man that needs no introduction. He’s gone from cool-kid disco favorite to Rihanna collaborator to Taylor beau-thing in a Swift (ha!) six years. Whether you hopped on the train back when he was Ready for the Weekend or caught on after finding love in a hopeless place, there’s no denying that catchy feel-good house anthems come no greater than this. His headline set Saturday is going to be a barrage of sing-along moments you’d have to be mental to miss.
From: San Francisco, CA
Releases on: Arrival, Digital Motion, and more
Why we like him: As soon as we press play on an SNR track, we start cheesin’ hard. Everything about this guy’s production says “smile.” It’s infectious, it’s uplifting, and it’s beautifully composed. He flirts with the progressive but handles effervescence just as well as he brings the edge. We’ve no doubt his set Sunday will be a journey of its own kind.
Listen to this: It’s just like the song says: This tune feels so good and feels so right. This is the kind of jam that would make the sun come out to play on a rainy afternoon. We can just feel the green grass running through our fingers during these four minutes of perfect summer vibes.
From: London, UK
Releases on: Rinse, Virgin, and more
Why we like him: Billon will bring everything that’s sexy and stylish about the UK house revival movement to Queen’s Domain. The duo’s productions are funky, chunky, and chock-full of groove. The sound is a mix of classic analog and new-age tech for a style that’s deep and rich, but still cutting-edge. This is disco ball glamour and pool party vibes, all packed tightly into one shiny stiletto.
Listen to this: Duke Dumont, eat your heart out. This is the kind of punchy beat you throw on at 5:01 pm on a Friday. This is the sound of a weekend wide open and a flirty smile in the window of a new car. Who wouldn’t want to kick off a festival with this dude?
If you like Carnage, check out D.O.D, Shelco Garcia & Teenwolf, and Loadstar.
Carnage made his name as a trap artist but refused to be put in a box. The only sure thing is mayhem and bass, turn-up and Chipotle stains. He keeps one foot in his rap roots, recording songs with Migos and ILoveMakonnen, though he’s never shied away from a hard EDM angle. Basically, this is the craziest ticket on the bill. You’ve been warned.
Releases on: Mixmash Records, Dim Mak, and more
Why we like him: Dan O’Donnell looks like a pleasant dude, but something must be going on in that head, because his noise is brutal in the best way possible. It’s fun, but it’s nasty, like that friend who drinks just a few too many energy drinks. His frenetic booms lured Laidback Luke to the table when the legend needed a dope remix. Not a bad cosign out the gate, by any means.
Listen to this: Hot off the presses comes this jock-jam-style heavy-hitter. Just when you’re ready to hit the court and ball on a player, the floor falls out from beneath you, and you’re tumbling through seven levels of insanity. Lose your mind to this.
Shelco Garcia & Teenwolf
From: Las Vegas, NV
Releases on: Mixmash Records and more
Why we like him: Special on aisle 12: two dope boys for the price of one. Diplo and Madonna already grabbed up a piece of this; why not you? The early-20s stunners must have learned to bring heat while coming up in the Vegas streets, because whether they’re bringing moombahton, dancehall or electro vibes, the beat is served with extra spice. It’s a four-alarm fire when these friends hit the decks. Stay hydrated, never thirsty.
Listen to this: Ever wonder how a song is born? We bet it goes something like this. How ballsy do you have to be to sing the hook? This was a move of pure genius. This jam is definitely getting dropped.
From: Bristol, UK
Releases on: Ram Records, UKF, and more
Why we like them: These two dudes are coming to the Bay Area to wonk up your whole afternoon. There will be no mercy, and you will all be prisoners; that is to say, once you get a taste of their heart-pumping drum & bass, you’ll be addicted for life. The only thing harder than their attitude are their drum kicks. Make sure you bring shoes comfortable for stomping, and please, mind your wild fists. Other dancers are enjoying the beat beside you.
Listen to this: Two months ago, the pair dropped a nasty, face-scrunching tune called “Once Again,” and it’s exactly the hair-raising anthem with which to familiarize yourself with their sound. Expect to leave the Cheshire Woods covered in dirt and sweat.