One of the most important events of the year for American dance music, Nocturnal Wonderland found a new home for 2013 at the San Manuel Amphitheater. This event is the pinnacle of those planned by Insomniac in the Los Angeles area, with the amphitheater sitting in the expansive hills of San Bernardino. While only being a one day show, the line-up is jam packed with dance music for all palates.

Each of the four stages had a diverse repertoire of DJs, from the most popular and veteran acts to the deepest of the underground. What was so entertaining about the placement of the DJs is how it was, for the most part, not separated by genre. While Alice’s House was tech, deep, and out of the mainstream eye, the three other stages bounced in and out of different styles of house, dubstep, and drum & bass to name a few.

The Queen’s Grounds stage felt particularly intimate. A smaller space, this stage had an urban inter city vibe to it. In addition to the always fun pyrotechnics, the graffiti art was an extra layer of depth to Nocturnal Wonderland that goes to show how Insomniac always goes the extra mile. I found this stage to be the highlight of my evening, with Netsky and Andy C delivering a fair share to drum and bass at Nocturnal Wonderland. Getting to hear the ever popular “Secret Agent” from Netsky as the closing track was the perfect way to close out a stellar hour of music.

The one artist who I was surprised (but delighted) to see steal the show was Kill The Noise. Opening with the Brillz remix to his staple track “Talk to Me“, this would the first of many songs off Black Magic Remixes he would drop. As expected, he played a mixture of his own tracks both new and old, like “Dill The Noise” for example. Hearing “Meow Machine” live was also rather hilarious to say the least. Other peak moments included “Bumaye (Hunter Siegel Remix)” and new hit electro track “Dynamite” from Quintino. The most important part of the set to take away for up-and-comer DJs is Kill The Noise‘s mic use. While everyone has a personal preference on microphones used by the DJ, Kill The Noise knew when to chime in and when to let his music do the talking. He also has a great stage presence on the decks, and is a good example of the cardinal rule that a good DJ has to be moving their body too.

All in all, Nocturnal Wonderland was a success. While dance music has been under heightened scrutiny this past month, it is refreshing to see things are still pressing forward here on out. Experiencing an event put on by Insomniac for the first time was rather eye opening, and I feel as if it has given me a better appreciation for how our culture is expanding. The sights and sounds of Nocturnal Wonderland are not to be taken lightly, for it truly was an event to remember. I highly recommend partaking in this event the next time it returns to the California area.