Festival Report Card: Beyond Wonderland 2024

This weekend was full circle as we once again attended Beyond Wonderland, kicking off the 2024 festival season at one of the longest-running rave events in Southern California.

We had an absolute blast with incredible music, stunning production, and meaningful connections with other ravers, but we knew what we were against.

The NOS Events Center events seem to have the same issues arising repeatedly, and attendees seem to get more and more frustrated, with the greatest being overcrowding.

We at EDM Maniac wrote our Beyond Wonderland 2024 Festival Report Card to let you know exactly what we thought of this year’s event.

Image credit Beyond Wonderland

Vibes: B

There seems to be a significant split in attendee vibes at Insomniac festivals, which echoes the change in the rave scene today.

At every set, we encountered some of the most PLUR we’ve experienced all year with compliments, gifts, and Kandi trading that genuinely embodied the feeling.

But we can’t deny the community’s overall sentiment that there were some severe vibe-killers at Beyond. Fighting, pushing, stealing, and jumping fences were rampant.

We saw 10–15 people jump the GA fence into VIP and immediately move to the front. We also heard reports of people jumping fences to break into the festival, and plenty of phones were stolen once again.

And while every festival has its share of rotten eggs, NOS Center events seem to breed them like rabbits.

Much of the bad interactions we saw or experienced were in the highly packed GA sections or walking around the venue where you had little to no space, which couldn’t have helped with the overall vibes.

Production: A-

Beyond Wonderland’s production is one of the best in the game, arguably right under EDC Las Vegas. The entire speedway is decorated with lights, mushrooms, art, and clouds, transporting you into a wonderland.

The visuals and stage design were also stepped up this year. The new open-air stage at Cheshire Woods and the Looking Glass, which appeared to be an actual warehouse venue, completely blew us away.

The sound was loud and booming, with fire, CO2 cannons, and plenty of lights and lasers. The smaller indoor Sea of Wonder stage also stood out with its laser display and real-life pirate ship for a DJ stage.

However, the two largest stages did have some minor issues. The bass stage, The Mad Hatter’s Castle, seemed to have less production than in previous years, with fewer LED screens and only fire effects to add to the performances.

But our biggest issue was with the main stage, The Queen’s Domain. The sound was lower during Subtronics, and the LED screens and lasers weren’t up to the abundance or quality of a main stage.

But other than Queen’s Domain, all sets were loud and balanced with an overall enhanced production value, which we appreciated, especially with the shared love of more than just the main stage.

Image credit Beyond Wonderland

Music: A

There’s a reason Beyond Wonderland 2024 wholly sold out; it was the lineup.

This festival pulled out all the stops for every genre, with artists like Angerfist, Paul Oakenfold, Marauda, Andy C, I Hate Models, and Sara Landry all at the top of their game.

Every single artist showed up, from HOL!’s unique take on dubstep to Oddmob’s groovy and high-energy performance. There wasn’t a single set that disappointed us.

The afterparty also hosted some wildly unique sets, including a techno Valentino Khan set and the rare Slander: Before Dawn.

It’s truly unique to have a festival that caters to all types of ravers and gives them the proper sound and production to ensure the experience is as tailored as possible, even for genres not often represented on American lineups.

Venue: C+

Oh, the NOS Event Center, how conflicted we feel about you. This venue is excellent in so many ways, yet unacceptable in others.

But first, the good thing is that expanding The Looking Glass to the speedway made the techno stage feel like a true highlight.

The afterparties and early opening ceremonies on both days were also great ways to spread out attendees’ comings and goings, which made, in our experience, a much smoother entry and exit, especially for those shuttling to and from the parking lot.

But that’s about it. GA attendees had one water station at the festival’s entrance, which meant either filling up once and rationing or traveling back and forth from one end to the other to wait in line with every other thirsty raver.

However, the primary and persistent issue is a feeling of overcrowding. Insomniac’s founder, Pasquale Rotella, said the show wasn’t “oversold.” However, we experienced many bottlenecks that felt dangerous all around the venue, leaving many uneasy. These bottlenecks contributed to some of the bad attitudes around the festival.

One challenging moment we experienced was heading to see Sara Landry. We were stuck in an absolute standstill on the way to the stage, and many people could not see her. People were pushing behind us, and no one was moving, and it was terrifying.

While it was an incredible moment that a female techno DJ could pack a house from the front of the stage to almost the back of the venue, it was also one of the most dangerous moments we’ve ever experienced at a festival.

We don’t believe this type of overcrowding is “just the evolution of the rave scene,” but when you come to the NOS, it’s become something to expect and prepare for.

One option that seemed to alleviate some of the crowding issues was VIP. It was spacious, had fun goodies, extra food, and water stations, and got you close to the action. The VIP section did reach capacity during Sara Landry, and the price isn’t feasible for many ravers, but it could be an excellent option to splurge if you have the means.

Something must change, or people will be hurt, and our community may never recover.

Image credit Beyond Wonderland

Overall: B+

We had a fantastic time at Beyond Wonderland 2024, but some factors detracted from our experience.

The insane sets we saw and the fact that it seemed like every artist was out to throw down overshadowed any minor sound issues.

However, the crowdedness and bottlenecks have become inconvenient and more dangerous. We love this festival, but it’s sad to know that there may be a time when the crowdedness of attendees will make it not worth the struggle anymore.

Overall, Beyond Wonderland will continue to be an event we attend. We just may temper our expectations about which sets are safe to attend and whether it’s better to hang in the back of the crowd.




Back to top