[Event Review] First Installment of Beyond Wonderland Chicago Delights Attendees Despite Rain

It’s quite amazing to look back and realize that the announcement that Insomniac was bringing Beyond Wonderland to Chicago (June 1 + 2) was all the way back in 2023. The city and our industry have been going through many changes since the pandemic and are still trying to find their footing. We do have some ol’ reliables such as Lollapalooza, North Coast, and ARC Music Festival. But there have been a few festivals that have come in, stayed a year or two, and left for various reasons. So when Beyond was announced, many were optimistic, although it was also hard to look away from past writings on the wall. So when June 1st arrived and many started the trek to Huntington Pavilion right on the lakefront, no one really knew what to expect.

However, we’re proud to say that it was an incredible event even factoring in the consistent and intense rain that fell all Saturday and the mud that it stirred on the second day. Despite the mud pits, it was extremely enjoyable to be a part of, arguably, the most memorable and well-produced Insomniac event in the Midwest since EDC Chicago in 2013.

Venue Layout + Vibes

The rain did feel very eerily similar to TomorrowWorld 2015 (RIP). Upon arriving at the festival gates at 2 PM for opening, many attendees were huddled together under ponchos and umbrellas. But, there was a line at security of the die-hards that were willing to brave the rain to see their favorite artists. The toes were tapping already to the music that began to play as we were let in.

After taking in the grounds, the set-up was brilliant. The venue has one established main stage for shows during the season. The other 3 stages were built and spaced perfectly with virtually nonexistent sound bleed. It took only a couple minutes to get from stage to stage. While Chicago hosts an array of genre-loving fans who range in friendliness, there were only positive vibes and smiles all around. In fact, I saw strangers helping each other out of the mud and exchanging contact info after laughing it off. On the flip side, Sunday’s weather was immensely gorgeous. The sun brought out the attendees who designed outfits to go with the Alice In Wonderland theme.

There were many places to go explore, relax, do, see, and experience. The sound at each stage was by far the best that we’ve had in the city in a very long time (could not hear your neighbors’ conversations, amazing). There was plenty of room to find a spot whether you were solo or with a group. Now, let’s dive into the music attendees got to hear through the amazing sound systems.

Lineup Standouts

As I mentioned before, the Chicago crowd does, indeed, love the local House music. But there are many others that EDM fans adore. So when this lineup dropped and we all saw the intense variety that was set to come here, it was exhilarating. The headliners included Kaskade, Svdden Death, Jai Wolf, Chris Lorenzo, Tiësto, REZZ, Of The Trees, and Eli Brown. Underneath those spectacular names, the weekend hosted some insane firsts and also memorable sets. We heard REZZ play out her 2024 edition of “Edge” and Oliver Heldens bringing Maddix up to premier their new collab. Audien and Jason Ross went B2B for the first time ever (and it was incredible – a weekend favorite). Benny Benassi played all of his legendary tracks and Trivecta played his heart out through the rain with his guitar, hyping the crowd up as it stormed on.

We also had a great drum and bass lineup with Dimension, Kanine, and Reaper. The stages were full for RL Grime and Kayzo, of course. Alesso had the crowd singing to the classics during his Sunday night set as well as Daily Bread and SoDown bringing the funk as the sun started setting. Alesso also hit up Radius for an afterparty with his other project, BODY HI. Caterpillar’s Garden was full of House and Techno lovers shielding themselves from the rain and dancing around despite the wet clothes and hair.

I’ve been around the music scene for well over a decade. It had been a second since I’d found myself wanting to be at many stages at once when there were timetable conflicts. And Beyond Wonderland Chicago put me back into my early years of wanting to see as much music as I could. It was very refreshing. The local artists threw down right away and the headliners wrapped each day up perfectly. As I woke up on Monday, I was ready to replay the weekend right away!

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So, 2025? YEP!

Lastly, some great news came out yesterday regarding the future of this Midwest festival. Social media was buzzing to see that Insomniac announced that the festival is already slated to return in 2025 on June 7th and 8th. It will be held in the same location. Tickets are already on sale! Payment plans are available beginning at just $9.99 down – take a look at the info here. Lock in your tickets! The word is spreading quickly about just how fantastic the entire weekend was. We’re glad it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future.