Beyond Wonderland goes to the Midwest


The Alice in Wonderland-themed music festival, Beyond Wonderland, is a fantastic experience usually taking place in California, but this year the Insomniac events team brought the magic to Chicago. Fans were ecstatic to see what a whimsical environment the team had in store for them when they entered Northerly Island and were promptly greeted into Lewis Carroll’s world. Each of the four stages had a different theme ripped straight from the book: Queen’s Domain, Cheshire Woods, Mad Hatter’s Castle, and Caterpillar Gardens. Between the stages, the space was filled with photo-op attractions, carnival rides, and performers dressed as characters from the novel.

In true Chicago fashion, the first day was filled with rain. Fans didn’t mind the persistent spray of mist but the muddy mess below their feet was a bit of a drag. Walking to each stage felt like trudging through a swamp with a couple of shoes lost in the process. Caterpillar Gardens was a large tented stage that offered protection to the soaking fans lining up to hear Max Styler. Accompanied by a floating caterpillar fans packed in tight to dance to Styler’s techno and house beats.

Queen’s Domain was naturally the grandest stage fit for royalty. This stage was a large open space away from the mud with plenty of bleacher seats providing a comfortable viewing experience. The seats in this area, however, were sparsely occupied with fans rushing to dance to Benny Benassi. Benassi flawlessly transitions between different music genres while keeping the tempo intact. Aftr playing his hit song “Satisfaction” he switched to Sean Paul’s “Temperature” ending his set with The Killer’s “Somebody Told Me”. 

Wax Motif was the immediate follow keeping the crowd intact. The set began with a sample of Nate Dogg’s iconic chorus vocals for Ludacris’ “Area Codes” pleasing all of the hip-hop fans in attendance. Back in the Caterpillar Garden fans were comfortably moving to French DJ, Hugel. This party felt like a much-needed throwback with tracks like Technotronic’s “Pump Up The Jam” and a blended mix of old-school house and classic salsa tunes. The confetti cannons were a nice touch.

The second day of the festival was more fitting for Wonderland-type festivities with the sun finally out blessing the concert-goers. The first soulful mix was brought to us by Maddy O’Neal, who was sampling R&B legend Aliyah. Her set included throwbacks like Kid Cudi’s “Day and Night,” Lil Wayne’s “6 foot 7 Foot,” and Big Boss Vette “Pretty Girls Walk” which made the crowd go nuts.

The highlight of the night appeared to be NGHTMRE. As the name implies, NGHTMRE brings an intensity that hypes up the entire set. The head-thumping bass was embraced with applause leading to epic pyro explosions. Attendees were treated to an impressive range of genres during this set, with samples from songs like Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” to Red Hot Chili Peppers or A$AP Ferg, and fellow DJ Liquid Stranger. This smorgasbord of musical styles was truly a smorgasbord of samples and full tracks blended into a lucid dream. Don’t fight it just let the music consume you and ride the wave.

Insomniac’s Beyond Wonderland conquered Chicago with great success. A little rain didn’t stop fans from having the time of their lives and the energy was contagious. The event was so successful that Insomniac has already announced Beyond Wonderland will return to the Windy City next year, ticket presales are already open.

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