If you attended Dreamstate this weekend, then you know you witnessed trance history in the making. The hard part will be explaining that to anyone who wasn’t there to see it for themselves.
For members of SoCal’s tight-knit community of trance fans, though, the significance of Insomniac Events having green-lighted an all-trance festival requires no explanation. The fact that tickets sold out within hours of going on sale made for further cause for celebration – and even if you didn’t know enough of the scene’s history to understand why, you could still detect an air of relief in the smiles on revelers’ faces as they spilled onto the grounds of the National Orange Show Event Center in San Bernardino.
Attendees varying widely in age (and wearing correspondingly dated rave attire) passionately embraced each other upon meeting as though reunited following years of separation. Diehard trance fans are a decidedly more eccentric breed than their mainstream counterparts, and these ones in particular certainly didn’t go out of their way to act casual. To them, there was nothing casual about the occasion whatsoever – because at long last they would finally return to what the festival’s organizers dubbed their “trance destination.”
Upon entering the Damus Building and glancing at the stage inside, you could put to rest any remaining suspicion that Insomniac had skimped on production elements for Dreamstate. While the entire lineup would perform on a single stage, the sheer amounts of lighting, sound, CO2 cannons and confetti could easily have outgunned that of most multiple-stage festivals. An array of spotlights designed to swivel around into grid, starburst and column formations brought the futuristic structure to life, as though with every rolling bass kick it danced along with the audience members carpeting the dance floor at its feet.
After the doors to the venue opened and ravers began to cluster together in front of the stage, the first artist stepped behind the decks to cue a song. While Day 1 kicked off with more melodic sets by Sunny Lax, Allen & Envy and Standerwick, pure trance movement poster boy Giuseppe Ottaviani began to incorporate more dissonant tracks and edits into his set – which complimented the increasingly striking visual elements of the stage. Then, shortly after Ben Nicky started his dark, grooving psytrance set, they broke out the lasers.
Emitted from the sort of array you would typically only see in use at a hardstyle show, multi-colored light beams fanned out in a criss cross of flickering planes above the awestruck faces of the thousands-deep audience. During points at which a menacing buildup reached its visceral peak, the CO2 cannons might all fire in unison, surrounding the stage in a formation of cloudy cones that resembled the treacherous maw of some enormous beast.
Dreamstate was clearly more than a reluctant concession to disgruntled trance fans. Insomniac pulled out all the stops to create an audiovisual spectacle that would revolutionize the way audiences experience trance music, and what they achieved was indeed a sight to behold.
Following Ace Ventura’s diabolical psytrance set, Orjan Nilsen took to the booth. Despite having received harsh criticism from trance purists for uploading what they considered to be a betrayal of the pure trance sensibilities of the event, what he delivered during his set actually met with resounding approval from the ever-discerning audience members.
The stylistic progression from artist to artist derailed somewhat for Paul Oakenfold’s Full On Fluoro set. Even though his almost house-y selection of songs made for a novelty departure from the psytrance that preceded it, it simply didn’t bridge the stylistic gap between Nilsen and Astrix in a natural manner – but still took the audience on a one-of-a-kind journey regardless. Indecent Noise closed out the evening with a crescendo of psytrance ecstasy, and the members of the audience left in disbelief of their senses.
By daybreak, Dreamstate’s social media pages were already flooded with overwhelmingly positive feedback from the first night. Negative testimonials from the festival arrived few and far between, with the attendees still trying to process what they took part in the night before. When doors opened on the second day, attendees arrived with even more excitement than they did on the first.