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We Went to Dreamstate SoCal 2018, and Our Faces Got Melted (DMNW Review)

The Dream (Mainstage. Photo: Stanley Sutton/DMNW)

In four short years, Insomniac’s Dreamstate SoCal has become the largest trance music festival in the world. Taking place Thanksgiving Weekend, more than 50 of the best in trance, and thousands of fans from across the globe, took over San Bernardino, California for two euphoric nights.

We journeyed south to the Golden State for our third trancegiving, as it’s come to be called. Would we come back next year for a fourth? Let’s break this year’s festival action first:


Slaying Unicorns with Markus Schulz (Photo: Stanley Sutton/DMNW)

Tucked away toward the industrial side of San Bernardino is the National Orange Show Events Center: the spiritual home of Dreamstate SoCal. There isn’t much to do in the immediate surrounding area, and there is plenty of free, offsite, street parking, if you’re pinching pennies.

Drivers be warned: Your car probably isn’t safe at Dreamstate. Last year we parked across the street from the venue, behind a row of fellow festival attendees, and returned to a busted window. This year, people told us break-ins happen on-site as well, in the $20 general admission parking lot, which is well lit, and full of vehicles. Mitigate risk by taking an Uber, or Lyft.

Layout (Addition By Subtraction)

The Seattle Trance Family Was Well Represented (Photo: Stanley Sutton/DMNW)

This year’s festival featured three stages, a downgrade from 2016, and 2017’s, four. Also scrapped was the holographic production used last year inside the The Sequence stage, which knocked the shoes off our feet. This year, The Sequence stage moved to an outdoor tent, and played host to many psychedelic acts. While the production there was top notch, we hope the hologram returns next year. You have to see it to believe it!

The return of the Megastructure mainstage bought some delight. Equipped with all the lasers, and strobes, you can handle, we watched many sets here, awestruck by the production. The Megastructure, and The Sequence tent, offered much space due to their open air nature. The same couldn’t be said for the third stage: The Vision.

The Vision Stage (Photo: Stanley Sutton/DMNW)

This year’s only indoor stage, to get inside The Vision you had to walk through a set of barriers. At times, we said to ourselves “this is what a herd of cattle must feel like.” Due to safety reasons, The Vision had a limit on its capacity. For the most part, we were able to get inside no problemo.

We did, however, miss Ben Nicky’s set since no one was being let in for that one because it was too full! Max capacity during certain indoor sets is nothing new at Dreamstate SoCal (last year, we missed out on Vini Vici). If an artist you want to see is performing underneath the roof, and they’re a big name, better get inside early!

Underneath The Sequence Stage Tent (Photo: Stanley Sutton/DMNW)

Food trucks/tents offered a bit of everything to satisfy all tastes. Alcohol tents were plentiful, some offering delicious cocktails exclusive to Dreamstate SoCal. We saw one free water refill station, which never seemed to crowded. Along with a massive mercy stand, and a solid first aid presence, all the festival necessities were covered.

DMNW Selects: The Best Sets of Dreamstate SoCal 2018

This year saw the introduction of “versus” sets, all taking place inside The Vision stage. They ALL delivered, as we saw some unique (often, hard-hitting) back-to-back sets.

Arkham Knights at The Vision Stage (Photo: Stanley Sutton/DMNW)

Our favorite versus sets came from Lost in the Noise (Lostly b2b Indecent Noise), and Sneijder b2b Sied Van Riel. Other sets we enjoyed include: Bryan Kearney, Freedom Fighters, Ferry Corsten as System F, and Simon Patterson.

The top billing at Dreamstate 2018 belonged to Gareth Emery. Performing his biggest Laserface set to date, the British Trance legend didn’t disappoint. Laserface featured all the classic Gareth Emery tracks you know and love, in addition to hardstyle, big room, and psy trance! We even received a cameo from one of the best vocalists in all of trance: the legendary Emma Hewitt!

Lasers In Yo Face (Photo: Stanley Sutton/DMNW)

As good as Emery and Hewitt were, it was the lasers that stole the show. They were choreographed to a tee. There were a ton of them too! We’ve seen some amazing artist rigs, but Emery’s Laserface might take the cake as the most impressive. And, supposedly, Laserface is only going to get bigger, and better, from here! How Emery tops Laserface Dreamstate? Who knows. Even more lasers maybe? Either way, we are excited to see what he, and his team, come up with next.

The Verdict

+ Gareth Emery’s Laserface is as good as advertised!
+ Dreamstate’s Versus Sets were amazing, and we hope for more of them at next year’s festival.
+ Never felt too crowded at each stage.
+ World class production. You can expect nothing less from Insomniac.
+ Local Food Trucks offering some delicious SoCal Flavor.
+ Our car wasn’t broken into this year!

– No holographic stage this year.
– Insane food, and drink, prices (then again, isn’t that how it is as music festivals these days?).
– Reports of rampant pickpocketing. We definitely held our cellphones, and wallets, close!
– Lack of heating. There were some chilly nights this year. While we dressed in layers, it Would be nice to have some added warmth from somewhere other than the indoor stage.

Will, we return for the fifth edition of Dreamstate SoCal next year? You bet!

What are your thoughts about Dreamstate SoCal 2018? What was your favorite set? Let us know in our comments section on Facebook, and Twitter!

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