Dreamstate SoCal 2019
Having attended Dreamstate for five years, I was in love the moment I walked in as I was engulfed by the level of production, knowing full-well this was Insomniac’s first trance festival.
Uniting trance families worldwide, Insomniac held its fifth-annual Dreamstate festival spanning over two days with three (3) new stages as over 10,000+ trance fiends entered the new-yet-familiar festival and was serenaded by 51 different artists throughout Trancegiving weekend. In the past four years, Dreamstate was held on the Friday after Thanksgiving, giving it the nickname “Trancegiving” but in 2019, Dreamstate moved to the weekend before.
This year was one of my favorite line up to date, being the premiere trance festival in the US, Insomniac catered to the needs of fans and artists alike. With that said, this was definitely a complaint-free lineup for new attendees and veterans alike. In previous years, I received a questionnaire via email asking opinions on artists I would like to see in the future and for 2019, I felt Insomniac listened and gave everyone what they wanted to make this year their best lineup ever.
Fall crept in unexpectedly as this year’s Dreamstate was chilly compared to the past couple years, with my Pikachu onesie becoming a wise choice as the night got colder. Day-one was a breeze through the gate as they were opened earlier this year to ensure no one missed any of the opening acts. Coming through the main gates, you’re instantly welcomed by the beautiful NOS Center pond that was fully decorated by simple white and blue lights that enveloped the trees throughout the festival.
The Sequence stage greeted you upon entering the venue while a fully immersive experience awaited anyone who dared enter the psychedelic-themed outdoor tent which was provided by Alteza Records; realistic images of faces, tribal symbols, and more filtered around. I could honestly stare at it all day, but I had to move on to The Dream stage to support Dave Neven.
Known as the ‘main stage’, The Dream stage was beautifully set up this year with this megastructure. With such a larger footprint over previous years, the stage mimicked church walls mirroring a stained glass illusion. It was breathtaking not only due to the height of the stage, but also the depth once you were in the front and look back. It was absolutely massive.
The third stage was The Vision located near the bathrooms to the side of the festival site. This stage was set up with LED screens t top-to-bottom in a wave motion with pillar panels placed in-between, it had a futuristic feel to it, especially with the images and designs moving around through the screens and the sets.
Having three good openers I wanted to see, I had to split the first hour amongst Sentinel 7, Dave Neven and Alessandra Roncone as each provided three different-yet-distinct styles of trance. As all three were new to the Dreamstate family, I managed to see them. It definitely proved to be a perfect way to open the event. Having classics artists play this year like The Space Brothers was such a delight for me. I’ve never had a chance to see them since they mainly play overseas. As I haven’t been able to travel and attend the larger European festivals like Luminosity, it was one of the highlights of the weekend. I was really excited for Cold Blue’s set, presenting his first new album “Winter” in a mini showcase. I had ordered the CD a week prior but did not listen to it until I witnessed his set firsthand. It was worth the wait.
A great thing about festivals are hearing new materials and I knew Cold Blue’s set was going to be truly special magical. Throughout the entire weekend, the only set conflicts were between Kai Tracid and Key 4050 because I was torn between between a classic artist or a group that I’ve been loyal to since their debut. I decided to stay with my two favorites – John O’Callaghan and Bryan Kearney as Key 4050 – and support their set and each year, I bring flags that show my support for my favorite acts and music labels. This year, I resized my Key 4050 flag and added lights to it, making sure I didn’t miss their new singles like their new remix of Delerium. With Key4050’s mix of Rachel Starr’s “Till There Was You” and their new hit with Plumb’s “I Love You”, the night was going perfect.
Running back to The Vision stage, I had to catch another favorite duo; Mark Sherry and Scot Project as Gentech in time to hear “Change your Heart” and the rest of what was left of their set. However, this was a set I was NOT going to miss with another custom flag and showed my support as much as I can as this marked Bryan Kearney’s second time playing under his alias Karney. Throughout the years, Bryan Kearney has been dropping tracks here and there with his remixes of “Pearl River”, “By My Side” and “Glue” to name a few.
Closing day-one was a no brainer with Yoji Biomehanika who is a gem and a classic old-school artist that has been around for a long time. He is more known for his hardstyle but came to Dreamstate and gave us some industrial style trance and underground, such as “hardstyle disco”, Mauro Picotto remix of “Iguana” and “Samurai” as he was the best treat to end day-one.
Day-two of Dreamstate brought special back-to-back sets and I found myself at The Vision stage all night even with so many good artists playing on all stages. Thankfully, the planners of Dreamstate placed everyone I wanted to see that night in one area, which meant less running around to other stages. In the past years, the most-requested artists fans wanted was Above & Beyond and Tiesto. As we know, Tiesto abandoned the trance scene over a decade ago and making an appearance at the premiere trance festival of North American would be slim to nil.
Rumors arose a few years ago of having an Anjuna-themed state with A&B as main headliner. This year, fans got their wish with Sunny LAX, Oliver Smith, Genix, Gabriel & Dresden, Jason Ross, Spencer Brown, Andrew Bayer, Ilan Bluestone and included many Oceanlab classics. The only time I went into The Sequence stage was during the last hour of Sidekicks, another Trance Family member. He played alongside his friend as I showed my support for some time.
‘Trance Queens’ Maria Healey and Ashley Smith came across the pond to play stateside at Dreamstate and I couldn’t be happier. The stage was set to look like a skyline of buildings moving across the panels in a purple to pink shade that fit the ambience of their set. While their styles are different, the set was cohesive as Maria dropped her new single “Not Today” while Ashley’s single “Kickback” was mixed with some new IDs for good measure. These two ladies were a perfect way to get into day-two as Paul Denton and David Forbes followed the two femme fatales.
One of the highlight of the night for the very few was an actual wedding. Formally known as Trance Jesus, officially ordained priest Chris Blackbeard wedded Irina & RJ who celebrated 7.5 years together with two beautiful children. RJ recently proposed to Irina, using Dreamstate as the perfect moment for the wedding. Around fifty friends gathered near the end of the lake next to the bridge to celebrate this ceremony as everyone split into sections for the groom and bride while the two walked down the aisle. With Trance Jesus leading the ceremony, we were all reminded of love and friendship. Without Dreamstate, none of us would have met each. In the five years since its inception, it truly made so many strangers into family as everyone celebrated Irina and RJ’s wedding at the best location possible.
Back to The Vision stage, fans were anxious to see Craig Connely and Factor B’s legendary back-to-back set which turned out to be a packed house. Being their first time playing together, I was intrigued with how it was going to play out. Factor B dropped a few new tracks from his latest singles, including a rework of 4 String’s “Turn It Around”. As usual, Craig Connely began the waterworks for most people with the infamous mix of “Black Hole” while mashing it up with a Giuseppe Ottaviani track to create “Black Hole Synergy”.
By the time I left The Vision stage, Sean Tyas & Menno De Jong played the most unique set out of all the back-to-back of the night. Menno mixed psytrance within his sets and Sean uplifted us with some tech-trance.
The boss of Subculture was finally up. John O’Callaghan was playing as one of his various aliases – Joint Operation Centre. Darker tech-trance with heavier baselines and beautifully uplifting vocal tracks, John has always been my one of my favorite artists, as this was only his second time playing under Joint Operations Centre. With such tracks as “Pull The Trigger”, “Glyph” and my personal favorite “Verdi”, we all wanted to hear his remix of Jon O’Bir’s “Found A Way”.
As our souls left our bodies for a brief moment, they only returned momentarily until John Askew and Activa took charge as AA Meeting. I was so excited for this set as I love their individual work and was curious of their debut together. This was a perfect way to end your night and Dreamstate as a whole.
A reminder that trance is alive and well, along with showing us that Dreamstate is here to stay for years to come.