The 3 most overlooked sets from Beyond Wonderland Bay Area
Beyond Wonderland Bay Area took over the Shoreline Amphitheater this weekend with a stacked lineup of talent. Everyone from Avicii, to David Guetta, to Dash Berlin took over the fantastically designed stages for the awe-inspiring two-day event. It came as no surprise that acts such as Hardwell, Calvin Harris and Arty were the talk of the festival, yet amid the Beatport chart-toppers and festival mainstays were three artists of lesser mainstream appeal who delivered some of the best and most underrated sets of the weekend.
Damian Lazarus and his Crosstown Rebels crew held down an entire Get Lost stage on Saturday, yet for whatever reason, the audience was lacking. No matter –- Lazarus and friends went on to put on a spectacular show, with the head wizard himself providing the most overlooked set of the night (and possibly the whole festival).
Damian came on an hour early, dressed in a thin, sleeveless garb. With his handlebar mustache and zealous demeanor, he was immediately reminiscent of Freddie Mercury. Atop his giant metallic pyramid, Damian maintained the techno trend which Subb-an had introduced for the past two hours. With plenty of ghoulish whails and aerial samples, Damian’s selections felt like the techno equivalent of Pink Floyd. As his psychedelic curation drove on, an eerie green light was cast out over the meager crowd. In the background, a giant egg at least twenty feet high glowed on spider-like legs, while Chinese lanterns shaped like suns hung from nearby trees.
Vocal samples would ring out into the silence, processed by Lazarus with heavy ping-pong delay and reverb. A new synth would be introduced slowly, filtered in and out with willful caution. Lowtemp bridges would extend on and on, until abruptly transforming into a thundering techno beat. Intermittent bursts of fire meanwhille erupted from the stage, while an enormous puppet of Hunter S. Thompson paraded through the modest crowd. For two hours, Damian conducted this psychedelic circus with a masterful prowess.
As the sun went down, Gareth Emery brought the energy up on Beyond Wonderland’s secondary main stage. The British house and trance maestro displayed no shortage of clean mixing skills, navigating through something close to twenty tracks in his hour long set. Supplementing his own brilliant originals like “Tokyo” and “The Saga” with some Audien, Ashley Wallbridge, and Dash Berlin, Gareth Emery’s set was an emotional journey from start to finish.
Highlights from Gareth’s set included his early 2013 gem, “Meet Her in Miami,” as well as his Above & Beyond/Oceanlab collaboration, “On A Good Day.” Like any good DJ, Gareth left us with plenty of delectable IDs to keep us scouring YouTube for the next few days. Finally, no Gareth Emery set would complete without his patented anthem, “Concrete Angel.” Thankfully, Gareth snuck it in right before the end.
[Note: this is an incomplete set.]
Following Gareth Emery, Zeds Dead took hold of the Madhatter’s Castle for the only main stage bass music performance of the entire weekend. Halfway through their set, it was easy to see why the Toronto duo had been granted the desirable position: their mixing has never been more dialed in. While the majority of the festival attendees had migrated to Calvin Harris, Zeds Dead proceeded to deliver one of the most engrossing sets of the weekend. If Gareth Emery fit twenty tracks into his hour set, Zeds Dead must have fit forty.
Opening with a slew of heavily syncopated productions that walked the line between trap and dubstep, Zeds Dead moved through countless genre defying tracks such as DJ Snake’s remix of “It’s You” and Dog Blood’s “Chella Ride.” Delving in nearly every tempo and mood, Zeds Dead took us from softer cuts such as their remix of Greta Svabo Bech’s “Shut Up & Sing” to more upbeat selections like their drum ‘n’ bass remix of Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” With the fluidity of their mixing and their riotous song selection, Zeds Dead easily channeled one of the most technical performances of the weekend.
[Note: this is an incomplete set.]
Photo Credit: Official Insomniac