How To Survive Escape Psycho Circus

Attending a music festival is a rite of passage; after an amazing weekend at a Halloween themed festival, it makes sense why everyone should attend at least one music festival in their life.

On the weekend of October 26 & 27th, the National Orange Show Event Center in San Bernardino hosted another year of Insomniac’s Escape Psycho Circus! DJs from the EDM music scene such as Seven Lions, Kaskade, Martin Garrix, Galantis, KSHMR, Diplo, and more, performed over the weekend for attendees.

Escape Psycho Circus is a 2-day music festival that occurs the weekend before Halloween, which is considered to be North America’s largest Halloween Electronic Dance Music Festival & Freak-show. At this music festival, there were 4 stages that you could go to watch your favorite artist, including the Slaughterhouse, Ghoul’s Graveyard, The Chopping Block, and Cannibal’s Tea Party. There were performers spread throughout the festival grounds in order to bring a stronger ambiance of Halloween to all attendees, as well as an interactive section known as the Asylum, for those who are brave enough to enter.

Crowd picture during KSHMR’s set

Being a first timer for Escape Psycho Circus & music festivals in general, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve only had very few experiences from past concerts I’ve attended throughout the year, but never an event this huge. I’ll start off with a few tips that helped me enjoy the 2-day experience

1. Bring a Camelbak

This may seem like common sense, especially since everyone gets thirsty at any concert, but Camelbaks were a lifesaver. I love drinking water throughout any event so I feel like this was worth purchasing for myself, especially if it can hold more than 2L of water. Depending on the amount your Camelbak can hold, it means less time to refill your backpack and more time to watch your favorite sets for the night.

2. Bring as little as possible

As someone who tends to over-pack for a 2-day trip away from home, this was a tip I took advantage of when heading out to the festival. Only bring the necessities you need for that night. In my case, I only needed a portable charger, hand fan, ID, debit card (for purchases), and a small towel to soak up any sweat from my face. The reason I say this is because your small Camelbak, fanny pack, or small backpack cannot fit more so try to take as little as possible.

3. Always bring a portable charger

There is nothing like going to an event to take squad pictures or videos of your favorite set in the background, and your phone dies. It’s always best to charge your phone to 100% before you leave and always have a portable ready for when you run low on trying to meet up with your lost friends.

4. Bring a totem pole

This tip is vital. I always have experience losing my friends within the crowd of a typical concert. However, if you lose your friends at a music festival as huge as Escape Psycho Circus, you are honestly doing it wrong. It will be very difficult to find them, especially considering the NOS events center has no service once inside the venue. By creating a totem with a symbol, sign, or meme on a 5-8 ft pole, you are able to find your friends with your distinct totem. Plus, this allows for groups to be very creative in how they decorate it.

5. Go with a friend who has gone before

It is best to attend your first music festival with someone who has experienced at the same venue or Insomniac themed events. I was lucky I invited my close friend to show me around & determine a meet up spot in the case that something happens. With that said, it allows for you to explore the festival grounds with someone who can help you find the next stage to go to.

Ferris Wheel featured within festival grounds

Besides these steps, I also have some small lessons for those who are either inexperienced or concerned about any fears.

If you are HIGHLY claustrophobic or develop anxiety attacks from being in crowds, please sit/stand within a safe distance. I discovered over that weekend that I have claustrophobia from being unable to breathe in crowds with little to no room, so I had to step out for one set. Honestly, I believe the main factor could also be the anxiety one develops from their first music festival. But remain cautious.

Remain respectful to everyone attending. We’re all here for the same reason: to watch our favorite DJs and spend time with our friends. Unfortunately, I came across several attendees who were disrespectful by inciting violence & preventing others from enjoying their experience. Don’t be that person in your group who ruins everything for others because you decided to push impolitely through the crowd; most attendees would be glad to help you through. Also, if you are trying to stay with your group by holding onto each other, please do not be the reason you separate their group because you couldn’t remain patient for 1 minute.

Set a budget for purchases inside the festival. I personally love to purchase one item from the merchandise tent at every concert I attend, so I set a budget aside for food, drinks, and merchandise before entering the festival. It’s best to avoid purchasing too many alcoholic drinks (for those who are 21+) due to ridiculous pricing. Also, try not to purchase snacks that you can get back home for a much lower price, especially if you are traveling from another country, city, or state.

Honestly, live in the moment. This lesson goes out to those who are considering attending their first music festival or will be attending one soon. As much as it’s great to take videos & pictures throughout a DJs set, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. I decided to opt out from recording too often & took my group photos beforehand to avoid wasting time. Living the whole experience without having your phone attached to your hands the entire time makes it all worthwhile. Listening to my favorite DJs with my closest friends helped me enjoy my weekend away from home; it’s almost as if attending was my ESCAPE from reality (haha, sorry!).

Overall, I don’t regret attending Escape Psycho Circus because it has prepared me for future music festivals. I understand a majority of festivals can become pricey overtime or have specific artists you may be interested in, but if you are ever given the opportunity to attend one, do it! Though, if you are experiencing FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) & impulsively purchase a ticket, just be cautious of your schedule. Watch out with becoming addicted to music festivals, it’s a hard addiction to beat; I should know!

Written by: Sofia Gomez

Learning to DJ

This past Wednesday, I had the amazing opportunity to mix live for my radio show! Behind two decks, spinning songs, now feels naturally to me. Now, unfortunately, I didn’t have my usual set-up with me, so it wasn’t my best run, but performing live for an audience is a feeling like no other.

Ask any dancer, singer, actor, or musician: it’s exhilarating.

Since a lot of people lately have been asking me about mixing, I figured I could break it down here.

Before we even touch the hardware, there’s one basic skill when it comes to DJ’ing, and that is beatmatching. You have to feel the rhythm of a song, before lining up the next one. Like the ever-so-talented Zach Efrron revealed, “I like to start them off at 122 bpm, before locking on their heartrate and bumping it up to 128”.

Something like that, that movie was lame as hell anyway.

Once you learn how to beatmatch, you’ll be able to phrase songs together. Sure you’re on the beat, but if you’re not lining up phrases, it won’t be as clean as it can be. You want sounds to enter when other sounds exit, ok?

Most music deals in Four-Four time, Four counts for Four beats. The most basic of songs follow this structure. Particularly in electronic music, everything is built by groups of fours. In house music especially, a new sound is added or subtracted every 16 beats, or some multiple of four/sixteen. Next time you’re listening to a song, start counting in your head four counts and repeating, and see what lines up.

Of course, not every single song ever made adheres to this. And that’s where it gets tricky, and what separates the Carl Cox’s from the Steve Aoki’s.

Once you nail those basic principals, you can focus on song selection. Anybody can play any song, but it’s how you play it, how you mix it, any personal flair you add, that really makes you stand out. Prove those kids wrong that say, “Oh DJ’s just press play.” They’re not even worth your breath arguing.

A mantra I’ve always lived by, is that “A good DJ plays the song you want to hear. A great DJ plays a song you didn’t know you wanted to hear”. I strive to surprise my listeners every time I get behind the decks. It keeps things fresh. But of course, everyone always has those “go-to” songs/song combinations/transitions.

Now you have your songs, you know how to mix them together, what do you mix with? You don’t even need a physical controller. There are a lot of similar DJ softwares out there, which all accomplish the same thing, and if you know the basics I mentioned, then you can fly behind any deck, real or virtual.

Here is a picture of my personal controller, which runs on Serato DJ (Serato DJ Intro is the free version).


I work with the Pioneer DDJ-SB “Portable 2-Channel Controller”. Behind the decks, I can control and cue up to two songs. I can mess with volumes, or even individual layers of songs to intermix the two songs together, for whatever desired effect I want. Sometimes you want to weave them in together over a stretch of time, other times you want to slam in a drop right on beat.

We’ve got effects too. FX let you get creative, and put your own personal flair on a song. You’re not always just pressing play! For example, a high Pass filters cut out any low portions to a song, and an echo FX will…well give you an echo.

I’m a huge fan of this mixer because of how versatile it was for the price. Retailing for around $200-$250, I have gotten a lot of mileage out of my DDJ-SB over the past year.

Of course there are bigger and better models out there, but they all accomplish the same basic principle. Four decks and fancier FX sure would be nice to work with.

And of course there is always the traditional vinyl route. DJ Snake spins vinyls (bet you didn’t know that), and is an artistic form in it’s own. Peep the grandmaster, A-Trak’s hashtag, #RealDJing to get an inside look of the lifestyle. There’s nothing sweeter than hearing some scratching and cutting in 2016.

DJing is a fun hobby to learn and a good skill to bust out at parties. Be more than just “an iPod”. Flex your musical knowledge, educate the crowd, take them on a journey. Who knows, maybe even one day you’ll be headlining the main stage to thousands of people, or the underground with a hundred people packed into a tight club.