Well, folks, it was that time of year again when trance families from across the nation, and some across the pond, came together for Insomniac’s annual Dreamstate at the NOS Event Center in San Bernardino. With all of the different trance genres, the amazing vibes from happy people, and a dazzling new layout, this year’s Trancegivings exceeded all of my raver-boy expectations.
Rideshare, Layout, and Stages
From the stories on social media about it being a pain to call a car last year, I was surprised to find out how easy it was to get dropped off. About a mile away from the main entrance at the Target parking lot was the Rideshare Lounge. The designated pickup/dropoff area was fully stacked with a seating area and port-a-potties.
This year's main entrance was in front of the Sequence stage and had more flair. I got goosebumps on the first night as I entered the festival. After passing through the security checkpoints, I was welcomed by massive arches emitting DS iconic blue light. Having the entrance near the psytrance stage this year was so hype!
The Void relocated to the middle of the NOS. Despite the occasional sound bleed, the move was a great decision since it gave unknowing Dreamers a chance to discover their subconscious desire for trance's more progressive and darker sounds. Inside the hangar was The Vision, where people took shelter from the freezing desert winds to the euphoric sounds of Solarstone and Stoneblue.
The Dream was where the big baddy for all the trance daddies, or mommies, performed. This year's design had an evangelical touch. The enormous LED screens transformed into stained glass paintings accompanied by arches of steel trusses hovering over the dance floor. The Dream’s holy design was of no surprise because this year's main act was not other than Armin Van Burren.
Shifting a few stages around allowed more space and more opportunity to see conflicting artists. There were more food options and even, this is my fav, more bathrooms! Also, the lasers sweeping the night sky and strings of lights reflecting off the NOS Pond, beautiful. One complaint, though, would be how the GA bar only had rail liquor!
I know my opinion is biased because I’m a trance head, but the music was sooo good, there was not one bad set. The most played track of DS had to be Fred Again's collaboration with Swedish House Mafia's “Turn On The Lights Again.”
Relocating The Void to the middle of the festival was such a 10-brain move because rising stars like Miss Monique and Billy Gillies weren’t hidden away at the corner of the event center. On the first night, I was walking by after Ferry Corsten’s techno-fueled set and heard the warm melodies of Lane 8’s “Run” and discovered Anjunafamily’s Jerro, which would have never happened if the stage hadn’t moved.
A set that took me by surprise was ATB. I usually don’t like having an MC with my trance, but senior Andre Tanneberger was a riot! Initially, I was planning on just staying for his iconic song “Ecstasy,” but I ended up staying for the whole set and missing half of Stoneblue. Sorry, Ilan. ATB dropped Feelz Bombs like “Sweet Disposition,” “Children,” and “Sandstorm,” tracks that took me back to My Golden Years of Raving.
Best set, hands down, was Armin Van Buuren. I’m not religious, but something spiritual awakened in me as I heard the divine tunes of “Lethal Industry,” “Airport Shivers,” and “Universal Nation.” The whole production, stage design, and Armin’s trademark Jesus pose felt like I was in a rave church having a trance revelation. It was a rapture of bangers foretold by Verse 138: “Who’s Afraid.”
The first official Dreamstate Afterpart was a success since it gave people a place to sober up. I only went to the Saturdays afterparty because I’m old. atDusk B2B Ruben de Ronde played some classics. Billy Gillies B2B Sneijder went hard. Craig Connelly B2B Factor B was so good. Shame I was only able to stay for an hour of their set before having to take off to catch a train back to LA for a 10 am shift.
DS always felt more like a rave than a festival to me. I saw people in fishnets, OG parachute pants, and neon clothes with strings of LED lights attached. Despite the low temperature, I still saw rave cheeks clapping alongside collapsible fans and sizzling abs. Hey, if you have them flaunt them, my brave and shivering Dreamers. But the best thing that people wore at DS was a smile.
Everyone seemed genuinely happy and was super friendly. Shout out to the Jolly Rancher guy. Although I speak from my personal experience, there have been several threads online about their negative experiences and critiques of the current trance scene—also, shoutout to the LED totem spreading messages of love and LOL’s.
There were reports of phone thieves at the event. An Unofficial Dreamstate Facebook page post showed a video of a few people getting arrested. On the first night, I ran into someone who had lost her phone. Luckily someone found and returned her phone; thus, I gave her back to her friends so I could take off to catch Elysian set.
The coolest addition to this year's DS was Insomniac’s partnership with End Overdose, a nonprofit specializing in drug education and providing supplies for medical intervention. I think this shows us, Dreamers, that Insomniac is willing to invest in our safety rather than punish. A whole can of worms here, but that’s for next time.
All In All
Dreamstate will always be an intimate event where TranceFamilies give thanks to their loved ones and new. From start to finish, I had a lot of fun this year at Dreamstate; more fun than EDC, even. It’s such a magical experience, which is why I always 100 outta 10 recommend. You know, some people say the real ground score is the friends you make along the way as you struggle from one stage to another.