I spent Halloweekend at Insomniac’s Escape Psycho Circus at San Bernadino’s National Orange Show Events Center. Usually I am more of a festival vs. rave event type of attendee, but I do not regret that I chose to attend my very first Insomniac event over HARD’s Day of the Dead Festival, which was also hosted nearby at the Pamona Fairplex.
With electronic dance music becoming so main stream and popular in the past couple of years, EDM and raves have adopted a negative connotation associated with heavy drug use, mindless dancing and attendees wearing little to no clothing. Although there was some of that at Escape Psycho Circus this weekend, I had an amazing, sober, experience where I got to listen to some of the top DJs in the industry, see some of the most creative costumes and meet some of the kindest festival attendees.
Insomniac events are well known for booking top DJs, special effects and amazing stage and sound production. Over the weekend Eric Prydz, Porter Robinson, Martin Garrix and Above and Beyond were among my favorite acts that took over the Slaughterhouse, a megastructure towering at 190 feet tall and 400 feet wide equipped with 14 video panels, lasers and CO2 cannons, giving fans a mind-blowing visual experience.
The DJ booth was positioned inside the mouth of a terrifying clown face with circus themed visuals on the side panels of the main stage. I’d have to say that Insomniac definitely mastered their stage and sound production giving the audience a mesmerizing show.
As a mark of belonging to the raver community, many attendees were found sporting kandi, handmade beaded accessories often worn as bracelets, necklaces and face masks. It’s also a way for attendees to make a meaningful connection when they decide to trade bracelets to symbolize their bond of peace, love, unity and respect (PLUR).
For those attendees who are looking for something that highlights performances in a visual way, the Slaughterhouse megastructure was definitely one of the most impressive stage set ups I’ve seen at a music festival. Special effects and confetti showers were also on fleek during every main stage performance.
Exploring the VIP section near the Slaughterhouse was a haunting experience with a light up Ouija board table, skeletons and levitating candles, where 21+ attendees could take advantage of a full bar, preferred elevated viewing areas, comfy lounge seating and a nice hideaway when you needed a necessary break from all the chaos.
On day 1, I dared to enter the Chopping Block, a warehouse stage decked out with LED panels and lasers, housing Excision and other dubstep artists laying down some of the sweatiest headbanging sets.
Flux Pavilion played immediately after Excision on the Chopping Block keeping the energy levels high.
Based on the countless totems on day 1, Above and Beyond seemed to be a crowd favorite. It was a beautiful experience to see the Slaugterhouse lit up with so much love and appreciation for an artist, proving that music is a universal language and a source of group therapy.
Magic was in the air during Above and Beyond with a smokey aura, totems and people filling the air.
Despite all the chaos and terrifying costumes, I still felt the magic and love during Above and Beyond’s set.
On Day 2, Porter Robinson made a last minute appearance at the Slaughterhouse stage stepping in for DJ Snake after having to cancel all his performances indefinitely because of a car accident where he and Tchami were seriously injured.
Right after I ran over to catch Mat Zo’s set at the Ghoul’s Graveyard. It strayed away from the circus-themed set up of the Slaughterhouse and the rest of the festival with a more standard festival stage with huge LED panels.
I also met a green ninja stacked with kandis going hard with his friends front row during Mat Zo.
Martin Garrix, one of the youngest world renowned DJs, showcased his growth since blowing up the scene with his major hit “Animals”. He closed out Escape at the Slaughterhouse stage with new remixes and his latest singles.
There’s nothing like seeing everyone’s hands up, lights blasting and confetti showers at the finale of the night.
Although my energy levels were depleted after two days of dancing my butt off, this definitely will not be my last rave. Escape Psycho Circus definitely changed my views about the rave scene, and I’ve come to accept that despite all the negativity on rave culture, people still come to raves for the common love of music, connecting with others and having a great time.