Escape from Wonderland 2011: Who we saw, who we didn’t, and what we learned
At Escape from Wonderland, Insomniac once again demonstrated why it is the West Coast’s leading EDM promoter. EFW was everything we’ve come to expect from the company — excellent lineup, spectacular production value, and remarkable commitment to safety. Read on for a full breakdown of Insomniac’s debut Halloween festival.
WHO WE SAW:
Umek – This Slovenian legend is a tech house master. He’s the perfect way to start a night, end a night, or spend an entire night. We highly, highly recommend him to anyone with a penchant for minimal music or an interest in discovering it. We spend a lot of time covering the big names here at Dancing Astronaut, but it’s often lesser-known DJs who give us the most memorable experiences. If our words carry any weight with you, believe this: free yourself from the hot, crammed masses at the main stage, and listen to some tech house.
Thomas Gold – A superstar in the making. Thomas Gold is one of those rare performers with the DJ skills to fully unleash the power of his phenomenal productions. He’s better live than Avicii, and probably a cheaper ticket.
ATB – Innovators like ATB have paved the way for EDM’s current resurgence. Without his remarkable contributions, our beloved genre would not be where it is today. It is a joy to watch him DJ. Here’s our favorite song from his set:
Cosmic Gate – Be Your Sound (Extended Mix)
Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike – We usually find MCs incredibly annoying. At most of the shows we’ve seen, MCs have been unnecessary and distracting. “Why can’t they just shut up,” we ask ourselves, “and let the music do the talking?” But after witnessing Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike throw down, we were forced to admit that were wrong. The Belgian brothers complement each other perfectly. Dimitri Vegas stands behinds the decks, unleashing one furious banger after another. Like Mike bounces all over the stage, pumping up the crowd like a crazed Energizer bunny. It’s a simple formula, but the result is electrifying. No one even came close to matching the madness unleashed by Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike.
R3hab – Fadil El Ghoul’s sound is still evolving, and we don’t think we’d be able to watch him spin for longer than his 45-minute set at EFW. That being said, he has the potentially to one day overshadow his mentor, Afrojack. R3hab’s performance pumped us up with enough energy to last the rest of the night.
Benny Benassi – One of the godfathers of electro, Benny was a solid addition to the Size Matters stage. He performed in a skintight Superman costume, entertaining the crowd by climbing onto the DJ stand with one arm raised in the classic Superman pose.
Dash Berlin – With some luck and the right management, this guy has Armin potential.
Steve Angello – Mr. Steven Angello is the reason that Size Matters.
Marco Carola – When Marco Carola is on stage, time as we know it ceases to exist. The man can make two hours seem like a matter of seconds. Carola is an expert at using every single sound to its maximum potential — inspiring your ears rather than overpowering them. His music is simple and beautiful, his stage presence is commanding, and it is an honor to hear him DJ. His Essential Mix is required listening for any self-respecting techno fan, and he is the only DJ on this list worthy of a hashtag: #technogod
WHO WE WISH WE’D SEEN:
Heidi – A minimal house goddess who’s played at some of the most famous clubs in the world, we’ve heard that Heidi knows how to make you move.
Moguai – His remix of Afrojack’s “Bangduck” is something to behold. We would have loved to catch some of Moguai’s dark, bass-heavy electro.
Pendulum – The world’s greatest D&B band was a few hundred feet away from us, and we couldn’t find time to see them. The success of Pendulum offshoot Knife Party is testament to these guys’ talent. We really wish we could have heard Pendulum live at EFW, and we vow to correct our mistake one day.
Jochen Miller – After listening to his live set, we’re incredibly disappointed to have missed this up and coming trance talent.
Sub Focus – One of the most influential acts in the dubstep and D&B scenes, Sub Focus’ remix of Rusko’s “Hold On” was one of the first dubstep tracks that we truly loved.
Nervo – They write, produce, and sing their songs. They DJ live. They’re beautiful. There are two of them.
Markus Schulz – We’ve only seen Markus Schulz perform once — at EDC Vegas this year. It was one of the most memorable sets we’ve ever seen.
WHAT WE LEARNED:
We simply cannot cover every artist we want to at Insomniac festivals. There’s simply too much talent on display. So, if you live in the LA area, help us out! If you live for EDM, then you’ve got what it takes to write for Dancing Astronaut. Please send us an application — you have nothing to lose. We’re the kind of people who like to spend our free time running around music festivals with a notebook in one hand and a media bracelet on the other. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you’ll fit right in.