After the announcement that Nocturnal Wonderland 2017 would be a scaled-down version of its previous form as a massive Insomniac festival I knew I wasn’t the only one wondering what I would be walking into this year. That being said, it was never an option in my mind to sit this one out. As Insomniac’s longest running rave it can always be counted on to bring the best vibes with its headliners each and every year. Insomniac not only managed to keep bringing those vibes, but also vastly improved the layout of the venue, the talent, the art, and the production value at each of its stages. Every corner of this year’s festival was a dramatic improvement from previous years.
As a raver who’s been in the scene for nine years, I’ve seen my fair share of events, raves, festivals, and whatever you want to call them. The good, the bad, the PLUR, and the not so PLUR always come to mind when reminiscing. One thing that always comes to mind when thinking of Nocturnal is the sheer amount of veterans that come back every year, and that comments from new ravers attending their first Nocturnal who are blown away by the good vibes. It was nice to see how many headliners seemed at ease and comfortable with the layout of the festival this year.
It’s easy to get stressed out about moving between stages, finding your friends, and making the most of your time at each festival. However, due to the festival scaling down its size this year it was immediately and abundantly clear that many of those worries would be alleviated in order to allow the music to take the front seat – as it should. Nocturnal definitely didn’t feel like an Insomniac massive in any way this year first and foremost due to the placement of stages. Running back and forth between Wolves Den, Labyrinth, Temple Noctem and the Sunken Garden has never been so easy. Wait, let me backtrack, that hill up to the garden was still a bit of a climb, however, it gave the headliners a chance to sit down and gaze over the magic that Insomniac brought us this September.
The view of the entire festival from that hill was beautiful as always and it gave us a chance to plan our night in order to make the most of the amazing lineup Insomniac put together this year. Not only was it a change from previous years filled with widely known artists, but it was a pleasant surprise to see so many lesser known but amazing artists who kill it in their respective genres. Even though there was a lack of trance this year, we were gifted with amazing live sets both nights at Labyrinth from artists such as Wingtip, Phantoms, Autograf, Chet Porter and Keys N Krates. The production value at Labyrinth this year was insurmountable, and I was absolutely blown away. Over at Wolves Den headliners were left pleasantly overwhelmed from K?D and Mija experimenting with their sounds, to Snails, Zomboy and Excision bringing the bassheads out to play. Let’s not forget Ookay’s live set debut and his encore of “Thief”. Climbing up to the Sunken Garden to get down with Claptone and Bijou was always worth the hike, and stepping off to the side to catch acts like Just a Gent and Electric Mantis in Temple Noctem left headliners wanting more.
Let’s not forget about the art installments that Insomniac always puts their best into. The blacklight caves made their return which gave headliners a chance to leave their mark on Nocturnal, because when is it not the perfect time to play with blacklight paint?! The light installments were beautiful as usual, and the tipis behind Wolves Den gave headliners a nice place to chill and take a break while the artists threw down for us. Though, the women painted as and dressed up as cats crawling around gave me a little bit of a surprise! That’s the good thing about Insomniac though, you’re not quite sure what you’re going to get but you know it’s going to be a great time.
Overall it was a deeply casual festival that wasn’t lacking in great vibes all around. It was easily manageable, easy to maneuver, the production value absolutely killed it and that tunnel of lights leading headliners in and out of the festival was, as usual, a perfect beginning and end to each night. See you next year!