As the dust settled and the car came to a stop in the dirt lot, I looked out of the window to see a group of a dozen girls adorned in kandy and other standard festival attire. As a first impression, I must admit the sight made me wary as the kandy scene often raises negative connotations. I began to worry that many of the attendees came not for the music, but to have the ability to say they went to one of the largest EDM festivals in the US.

The sun beat down on the desert and the thousands of shuffling feet made matters worse as the sand was kicked up into everyone’s face. By the end of the second day, my lungs and throat had been filled with the dirt and dust that made up the location of the festival. The walk from the parking area to the festival intensified the mood as the bass from the main stage boomed across the pathway. The air smelled of dust, greasy food, and sweat.

The main stage (Labyrinth) was already starting to accumulate a large following under the massive owl figure that stood watching over the grounds, but the other stages like Queen’s Grounds had not yet been filled.

As expected, Labyrinth was far larger and more elaborate than the other stages decorated in fauna, warm lights, and the Nocturnal owl which loomed behind the decks. A setup inspired by Wonderland, it set the standard for the festival. Queen’s Grounds, the Sunken Garden, and Upside Down Room all followed the basic theme of Wonderland, but each stage played off the music performed in each area.

Queen’s Grounds was the bass heavy stage featuring artists like Candyland, Bare, and gLAdiator and so the stage adopted a more urban and industrial theme. The grimiest stage, it represented the dirty bass that rocked the stage.

While Sunken Garden had no lack of bass, the style of music was more diverse and thus the stage looked more like a smaller Labyrinth than its own unique ground.

The Upside Down Room was the smallest stage but aside from Labyrinth, it boasted the most unique setup. The DJs performing at the Upside Down Room mixed the best of deep house and old school beats from a raised platform that took the literal shape of a house. Appearing to be playing from a second story house, the DJs most literally were playing house music.

Dressed in an animal onesie, I thought I’d be able to set myself apart from other festival-goers, but I was just another person in the very expressive and animated crowd. As the sun set over the mountains that surrounded the desert, people flooded the gates and the more established artists took their place at the different stages. Though it was fun singing along to classic Drum N’ Bass tunes with Fred V and Grafix, I knew just as well as everyone else that the real experience of a festival of this magnitude wouldn’t begin until the sun set and the moon took its place.

As Cash Cash made way for Audien at the main stage, a sea of people collected, buzzing in anticipation. As I made my way from Labyrinth to Sunken Garden, I stopped by a tent to purchase a bottle of water. The total came out to be above four dollars for a single bottle of water; And if you wanted a Red Bull to stay energized, that would be an additional two dollars. By the end of the night I had spent thirty dollars on a burrito, three waters and a Red Bull. Though the point of Red Bull is to energize a person, I found that the factor which most kept me going was the consistent fireworks and pyrotechnics that lit up the stages. Though these are common at many grand scale festivals, Insomniac provided Nocturnal with its classic carnival rides to set itself apart from other events. The spinning caterpillar, high swings, and Ferris wheel were all running for those who wanted to give their ears a break.

Between the stages, rides, food trucks and resting periods, people seamlessly meandered from one stage to the next, looking for their favorite artist.

From 3Lau to Excision to Slander to Moon Boots, there was a place for nearly every lover of the EDM scene.

As the headliners took their stages, the crowd had reached its peak. Easily tens of thousands of people could be seen jumping up and down to their favorite tunes as the DJs yelled for them to dance. From GarrixThe Glitch Mob to Excision to Bingo Players, across the two days, the headliners had thousands of people screaming their favorite lyrics. By the time the car pulled out of the lot, kicking up dust for the last time, the bass was no longer audible and the lights had ceased to blind any person who dared to look into them. Without a doubt, this Insomniac event will have a lasting impression on all of those who attended this year.

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