Last weekend, Insomniac took over the Port of Los Angeles with its newest addition to the Dreamstate series: Dreamstate Harbor. With only two stages, this rave by the bay is smaller when compared to the massive Dreamstate SoCal coming in November. But, this intimate group therapy was more than enough to barge into my heart with all the big festival feelz.
The first stage I went to was The Hydra because it was the closest to the entrance and the only set of GA bathrooms. Its layout reminded me of kineticFIELD with its monstrous LED screens and speaker towers spread across the dance floor. Like the serpent in Greek mythology, this stage showed the versatility of styles steaming from the body of trance.
On the first day, The Hydra took me on a trip filled with psychedelic riffs and energetic tempos from Alchimyst, Astrix, and Infected Mushroom. All the psytrance made Saturday a battle because everyone in their mamas was trying to get to the front. The next day went just as hard with aggressive percussion and driving basslines from the likes of David Forbes, Will Atkinson, Mark Sherry, and Bryan (Bryan, Bryan effin') Kearney. It’s been over two years since Bryan played in the USA, but his set was utter Kearnage.
Across the harbor was The Aquaria, where the DJs still wrecked my legs but in a loving take-you-out-for-breakfast-after kinda way. A silver cage of naked Truss Segments encompassed the stage, forcing everyone to huddle together for an intimate dance floor. Even when it was packed like sardines because the cold wind was blasting everyone from a state of trance, it was still easier to move around than in The Hydra.
Christina Novelli, Craig Connelly, Estiva, and Giuseppe Ottaviani were some of the DJs who opened The Aquaria, easing us into the night. But when it got dark, so did the music because it was banger after banger from Sean Tyas, Paul van Dyk, John O’Callaghan, and Sander van Doorn (presents Purple Haze). So many fantastic DJs played at this stage, but my favorite act from this pool was Markus Schulz.
Why? Well, I suppose it's because I feel like a man possessed every time I see the Unicorn Slayer. The way he balances the vigorous snares and kicks from techno with the euphoric melodies of trance is a work of art that makes me want to hug friends and strangers while also punching the air like it owes me money. *chef’s kiss*
Honestly, there's not much for me to complain about besides wishing there were more bathrooms, but space in the venue is limited, so I understand. But the free and quick in-and-out parking was fantastic! There were moments when I encountered some not-so-PLUR people who would elbow their way through the crowd or to the front, but that’s not Insomniac's problem. People were generally friendly, spreading the good vibes from the Book of PLUR. There weren’t all the bells and whistles you would typically see at a festival, but I don’t think DSH needed the extra production or stages because the sound management was perfect.
Rewatching my "Sun & Moon" recording during Ilan Bluestone's set made me realize something. I realized how much I suck at singing and that I dance like I'm losing a game of DDR. But none of my horrible singing and terrible dance moves matter because, in these small moments of imperfection shared amongst my friends and strangers, I am happy. Thank you, Insomniac, for creating a culture celebrating the magic of trance.
All-in-all, the first Dreamstate Harbor was pretty cool. I have no regrets, not even when I spent 17 dollars on dry chicken tenders and fries. (No lie, I saw a basket of fries on the floor and thought how someone wasted nine dollars.) The star-packed lineup and breathtaking sights of laser-colored fog with giant ships in the background made it all worth my while. TL;DR: New location, same feelz, 100 out of 10, highly recommended.