Dreamstate 2015: A New Beginning For Trance

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Simon O’Shine, Adam Ellis and Will Atkinson warmed up the decks for Rank 1, who took the audience on a beautifully somber journey through his characteristically despondent style of trance while blue cones of light swirled about the room. Jordan Suckley livened things up with an especially hard-hitting hour of tech trance and psytrance, and for a brief interval the audience could even hear him scratch over a track as he’s known to from time to time.

Simon Patterson and Aly & Fila both delivered engaging sets that set a markedly more melodic tone for the second evening – which made for a fitting segue into the performance by Paul Van Dyk, who was arguably the most celebrated name on the roster. From the moment he stepped onstage all the way until the the last notes of his final track trumpeted out from the speaker stacks, Van Dyk brought the larger-than-life stage energy and maestro-like selection skills that solidified his reputation as a legend back in the golden era of trance.

Between driving, powerful synth melodies and the lighting tech’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to the visual accompaniments, Paul Van Dyk’s performance stood out as the most memorable of the entire weekend. With each cacophonous peak, another tidal wave of emotion swept over the already elated crowd along with bursts of light and confetti. Afterwards, tech trance sets by John O’Callaghan and Bryan Kearney made for a driving, frenetic finale to a festival that will surely set a new standard for trance events in the U.S.

As with any major production, countless factors certainly contributed to Dreamstate coming together as smoothly as it did. The talent buyers succeeded in curating a lineup that would tap into the obscure undercurrent of the trance world at a time when it’s finally making its way back to the surface. The redoubled stage elements that have become Insomniac’s calling card undoubtedly contributed as well. However, the most noteworthy catalyst of this perfect storm remains the dedicated trance fans who attended one or both nights – and uncovering some of their history sheds light on perhaps the most relevant aspect of the event.

In the late ’90s and early 2000s, trance took the electronic music world by storm, and quickly amassed a devoted following in the SoCal rave scene. Being that Insomniac Events’ rise to prominence as the foremost rave promoter in the area ran parallel to the genre’s own growth in popularity, lineup additions catering to trance fans became necessary for Insomniac to remain competitive. As a result, area trance fans became loyal to the production company by attending events like Electric Daisy Carnival and Nocturnal Wonderland regularly.

However, according to certain SoCal rave scene veterans, Insomniac failed to reciprocate the loyalty when called upon to do so. Although the 2010 dubstep breakthrough earned the contemporary EDM generation never-before-seen exposure, it dealt a major blow to trance’s presence on the global charts. In keeping with the times, Insomniac began to significantly reduce the number of trance artists on its event lineups to make room for those of emerging styles.

What trance artists did remain were typically those who all but abandoned the genre by putting out a watered-down version of it that more closely resembled electro or progressive house – a trend which would gradually change the meaning of the word altogether. Much of the trance community felt that they had been marginalized by Insomniac’s business decisions and continued to harbor resentment towards the company all the way through to the present day.

For that reason, the first announcements for Dreamstate filled SoCal trance fans with renewed hope for the future of their scene. As soon as Insomniac began revealing artist names, it was clear that they were doing it the right way as well – purveyors of more classic and obscure trance sub genres were clearly favored by the event’s talent buyers over their more mainstream counterparts, even though conventional wisdom might suggest that the event’s draw would suffer as a result. In doing so, Insomniac has taken a strong first step towards mending its relationship with trance fans throughout the area.

Dreamstate was not only a celebration of trance music, but for many it was a celebration of unity restored. It was a monument to the power of a feeling, and its ability to endure even in the face of a constantly changing world. It’s often said that trance is love, and as uplifting as other festivals may be you would be hard pressed to find the kind of love that abounded at Dreamstate at any other live music event on the market.

Fortunately, though, it looks as this is just the beginning. Shortly after Dreamstate SoCal had sold out, Insomniac Events announced a festival of its namesake to take place in San Fransisco on January 16th-17th. Furthermore, sources indicate that next year’s edition of EDC New York will feature a Dreamstate stage, and the coming months will surely bring similar announcements regarding other Insomniac festivals or club nights as the Dreamstate brand continues to reach new audiences.