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POP MUSIC REVIEW

It's a bright new day for Nocturnal Wonderland fest

September 01, 2003|Steve Baltin | Special to The Times

The eyes of the dance music world were on San Bernardino's National Orange Show on Saturday as Nocturnal Wonderland, once L.A.'s biggest dance music festival, attempted to resurrect itself after a self-imposed hiatus in 2002. An estimated 10,000 fans turned out for the 10-hour festival, which included more than 30 acts from dance and hip-hop. While the numbers are down from the watershed Wonderland in 2000, which attracted more than 40,000, anyone who was at the Lake Havasu fiasco in 2001 will tell you 2003 was an unmitigated success.

In addition to strong sets from house music icon Mark Farina and L.A. trance hero Christopher Lawrence, four acts showed the potential of busting dance music out of its recent stagnancy. Playing at the Labyrinth stage, whose indoor setting created a club-like feel, BT delivered a sound that could only be dubbed trance disco and had the room flowing with electricity.

DJ Colette continues to deliver soaring vocals over house music tunes, but by the end of her two-hour outdoor set the selections had evolved into soulful, inviting disco-pop palatable to the mainstream.

The same cannot be said of the frenetic sound of drum-and-bass. But England's Adam F and Brazil's team of Marky and XRS showed that D&B may be the most exciting genre in dance.

Adam F's transitional pieces between tunes were like rock bridges, with guitar riffs and instrumental "noodling." Coupled with his genre mixing and beat versatility, it added up to a masterful set.

Marky and XRS, joined by London's MC Stamina, displayed a Jedi-esque control of tempos. But it was their fusion of the fast beats of D&B with Brazilian grooves that was invigorating. It offered the promise of something new.

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