• Best of Nocturnal Wonderland: Day 3

    These are our final memories during the last day of Nocturnal Wonderland.

    Munching at the Labyrinth With Eats Everything

    I made it a point after my set at the Temple of Om to grab my belongings and run as quickly as I could to the Labyrinth to catch the tail end of Eats Everything’s set. I rocked up to a sea of people pretty much anticipating the festival trap sounds of Slander, but they were kind enough to give a slight fist-pump after every noticeable drop. There’s probably no other DJ on the Nocturnal bill with the technical prowess of Eats Everything. He could take two very mediocre tracks and turn them into a turbulent maelstrom of sound via his knowledge of knob-turning. So when it came time to close out the remaining 15 minutes of his set, he ripped into a couple of rave classics like Da Hool’s “Meet Her at the Loveparade” and the Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up.” It was a pretty radical moment, and while I can’t exactly say it set the pace for Slander, it was rad to see a sea of people vibing to sounds they weren’t expecting to hear. —Troy Kurtz
     

    Lorenzo on That Bassline

    If you were at Queen’s Domain Sunday night, you were likely to hear the big, bad basslines from UK producer extraordinaire Chris Lorenzo. As 1/2 of Cause & Affect, Lorenzo has made it big in the contemporary UK garage scene with a number of hit tracks under his own name and others, alongside notable artists like Hannah Wants and AC Slater. After a massive collaboration with Chris Lake under his belt this summer, Lorenzo lived up to the hype and brought it strong to the Nocturnal crowd ready for the bassline vibe. Throwing in some of his own classics, along with other notable UK slammers, the Birmingham selecta had the crowd moving to the throwback 2-step and current bass house sounds. From one record to the next, Lorenzo set the mood just right, leading up to L.A.’s very own Bixel Boys, who tore the house down. —Joe Wiseman
     

    DJ Rap’s All-Vinyl Comeback

    If you caught our Day One recap, you heard about the old-school buzz on the hill with the History 101 tent, a tribute to early SoCal rave culture complete with a mega-sized Pac-Man arcade game. For most of the weekend, the Technics 1200s were manned by DJ Demigod, the man responsible for Side A of our Nocturnal Wonderland 20th Anniversary cassette mixtape. But at 9pm on Sunday, drum & bass legend DJ Rap took to the decks for a surprise, all-vinyl set that took attendees down dance music’s memory lane, from jungle to house and everything in between. It was a true blast from the past with a new-school twist, right down to the dude that hopped onstage to take a pic with Rap… only to skip the needle on the record. Guarantee you that’s the one and only time that happened all weekend. —Rich Thomas
     

    Front Row at the Tensnake Show

    Pro tip: Never go into a Tensnake set with any expectations. He can dive into the deepest trenches of house or take you through a journey of the rarest disco and funk known to mankind. I’ve seen the German house-head three times now, and each set has been vastly different from the last. After my interview with him and following the exclusive mix he put together for Nocturnal Wonderland, needless to say Tensnake’s show was by far my most anticipated performance. And by god, did he deliver! As a working PLURfessional raver, I tend to watch sets from the back end of the crowds, observing both the DJs and the fans. But something about Tensnake’s house barrage pulled me to the closest edges of the front row. For once, I was able to completely let go of all my inhibitions and dance like EVERYONE was watching to the sounds of Tensnake’s most famous “Coma Cat” (the Round Table Knights remix) and an extended play of Josh Wink’s “I Am Ready.” I sometimes forget how good the bass feels when I’m right smack in front of the speakers. I think I found my new home. —John Ochoa
     

    Fireworks

    The fireworks were the cannot-miss event of the night, and with due reason. It wouldn’t be a 20th anniversary without some spectacular sparklers, and it goes without saying, they most certainly delivered. The night sky was set ablaze with sparkling shimmer as Headliners throughout the festival all turned their attention upward to catch the dazzling display. I’m always a sucker for fireworks and can confidently say the night’s decadent offerings most certainly delivered. —Anum Khan
     

    Catching Live Sets From Keys N Krates and Booka Shade

    Let’s take a quick second and give big ups to the live acts at Nocturnal Wonderland this weekend. Indeed, DJing is an art all its own, but a live performance with live instruments adds a whole new level of diversity and flavor to the electronic game. It was perfect, then, to go from the hip-hop traptronica beats from Canadian trio Keys N Krates to the minimal techno of German duo Booka Shade. Over at Queen’s Grounds, the KNK gents—drum virtuoso Adam Tune, synth/keyboard aficionado David Matisse, and internationally award-winning turntablist Jr. Flo—unleashed havoc with their trap-influenced, hip-hop-centric electronic jams, which sounded like a melodious war zone cutting through the thick air of the night. Down by Sunken Garden, Booka Shade took the opposite route and instead opted for a more stripped-down performance, with Arno Kammermeier manning an electronic hybrid drum kit and Walter Merziger steering the live synths and electronics setup. It was two stages at opposite ends showcasing two distinct sounds, all unified under one love and powered by human emotion no USB stick could ever hold. —John Ochoa
     

    Screen-Printed Posters

    Consider this a swift kick in the rear from us if you came upon the Toyota booth during the show and didn’t get yourself a screen-printed poster. These collectibles were created by hand throughout the three days of Nocturnal Wonderland, meaning no two posters looked alike. I first chatted with the guy creating these posters a little after doors opened. Later in the night, he was still going at his craft, carefully constructing each poster one by one. Considering today was the last day to get one of these sweet sheets, I hope those of you who did happen to swing by the Toyota booth got your hands on one. —Anum Khan
     

    Duke Dumont Lifts Us off Our Asses

    Call me a prima donna, but three days of hardcore raving exhausts the body. It’s inching toward midnight, and I’m sitting on the backseat of our editorial golf cart with my legs stretched out as far as they can reach. From the distance, I hear Duke Dumont take the stage, but I’m nowhere near energetic enough to even stand on my own two feet. I start to wonder to myself, “Is it worth the hike to Labyrinth?” Suddenly, I hear the jam of all jams: “Won’t Look Back.” It’s the empowering voice, the heartfelt lyrics of love, and the driving synth line that finally make me get off my ass and sprint toward the Duke. The stage is packed. The vibes are pumping. I immediately know why I’m there. Duke dives headfirst into a string of ultimate house cuts: MK’s famed remix of Storm Queen’s “Look Right Through”; “My Love” from Route 94; the bouncy “House Every Weekend” from David Zowie; and his own “Need U (100%).” It’s a class in deep house for the mainstage masses. From the front of the VIP section, I yell into my coworker’s ear, “I do not regret coming here.” Lesson learned: Duke Dumont is always worth it. —John Ochoa
     

    Day Three Warriors

    This was the first three-day Nocturnal Wonderland, but you wouldn’t have known it by looking around at the crowd. Everywhere we went, weekend warriors turned up while simultaneously turning down their need for R&R. At the end of the day, the festival life isn’t easy, but somebody’s got to do it. Here’s a pat on the back from me to all who gave Nocturnal Wonderland the proper finale it deserves. Your energy is most certainly appreciated. —Anum Khan
     

    R.A.W.

    Sunday night’s throwback lineup at the Upside-Down Room brought out some legends, including drum & bass master R.A.W., who subsequently brought out a lot of old-school party people who were around for the very first Nocturnal. It was epic to observe R.A.W. (and the spirited posse of friends standing behind him) having a moment of glory, and also very cool and even poetic that the crowd going nuts in front of the stage was a mix of people who have been around since the inception of the scene and kids not yet old enough to legally drink. The takeaway point of the moment, and of the whole weekend, really, is that good music and good fun always transcend age and time. —Katie Bain

    After the Party, It's the After-Party

    There are certain perks to working for Insomniac, and last night one of them was that after the show was over, a bunch of us got to take over a certain artist’s trailer for a post-festival hangout. There were delicious green juices, sandwiches, candy, spirits, and even a massage chair. For a bunch of people who had just spent that last three days working the show, you could say that the relaxing 4am atmosphere was just right. (Get it?) The after-party continued throughout the campground, in the silent disco, the Jive Joint, and in front of an RV blasting house music, where a sizeable crowd danced until the sun came up. Strong showing, guys. Major props. —Katie Bain
     

    The Weather

    The unsung hero of Nocturnal 2015 was the gorgeous weather that persisted throughout all three days of the fest. While temps got a little low on Friday night and fairly high during the day, by Sunday afternoon, everything had leveled out to perfection. The early evening sun cast golden light over the show and the hills beyond, making everything sort of glow before descending into one of the most epic sunsets I’ve seen in a while. And while you could have put on a sweater after dark, you didn't even really need one, especially if you were dancing hard enough. A big hurrah to mother nature for bringing it for the unofficial closing weekend of summer. —Katie Bain

    A Warm Welcome for Paper Diamond


    As artist transpo pulled up to the scene with Paper Diamond in tow, a gang of his family and friends were already waiting for him with a surprise b-day cupcake. His face did little to hide how overcome with joy he was to see his squad out in full force; it was presumably the warmest of welcomes before the Coloradoan beat-maker would take the reins of Queen’s Grounds behind Bassnectar. With more than an hour before his closing set, the dude had enough time to sneak in a sesh on a hoverboard. The ride was seamless, for the most part, until he almost bit the concrete during his dismount (here’s what could have happened if he didn’t catch himself). —Sam Yu

    Stocking up at the Kandi Shop


    Most people tend to forget to pack their toothbrush when they travel, but my absentmindedness led me to the ultimate festival fail: leaving behind my kandi collection. Luckily for me, and presumably a few other forgetful ravers, the Red Vine kandi station came through in the clutch. Bright-colored beads were strewn across workstations, as dozens of smiling Headliners circled around them to stock up on pieces to trade or for precious 20-year keepsakes. —Sam Yu

    Going One Deeper With Anjuna


    With the deep side of dance music finally getting the global recognition it deserves, it made the most sense to invite the vaunted Anjunadeep peeps to close out Sunken Garden on Sunday. Judging by how many people I spotted sportin’ Anjuna merch the entire weekend, it’s safe to say the stage was a smash hit. But the dancefloor is where the real results matter, and the crowd there stayed consistently thick throughout the day. I would have chained myself down to the Garden if my basic human needs didn’t require tending. The stacked list of selectors was showcasing the various shades of the underground, and I was eating up every second of it. A personal highlight was when Dusky rinsed their recent record “Squeezer” in the last 30 minutes of their set. It nearly broke my brain. —Sam Yu

    Novalia Lets You Touch Sounds


    Tucked in between a family of trees near the Orion’s Belt campsites was an installation that could not have been more interactive. The folks over at Novalia brought out the first-ever playable Bluetooth garden. Here, Headliners fiddled with MIDI technology to create their own soundtrack with open-sourced NASA samples and sound designed in-house by their team. The triggers were works of art themselves, which included paper MIDI in the form of flora and gorgeous MIDI mandalas spread out atop the grass. The best part was seeing how each person tested the waters differently to create their own space-inspired story of sounds. —Sam Yu

    Kaskade Hits Us Right in the Feels


    In the spirit of celebrating 20 years of Noc, Kaskade came out of the gate with the perfect opener: looping the leading lyrics “feeling the past moving in” eight times before Ryan Raddon released the rest of his never-tired throwback “I Remember.” It instantly gave me a flashback to when he first dropped his collab with deadmau5 down the street at the NOS Events Center during Nocturnal Wonderland 2008. Much has changed since those days, but the energy has not aged a bit. He took the mic and said, “I just wanted to take a moment and give a shout-out to Pasquale Rotella and everyone here at Insomniac who makes these events possible. This is something else, 20 years of Nocturnal—you got to pay respect to that. It’s not a coincidence I started with this song.” Way to hit us right in the feels, Kaskade. —Sam Yu