Escape: Psycho Circus 2016 (REVIEW)


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What a weekend! Insomniac has successfully provided Halloween festivities…

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What a weekend! Insomniac has successfully provided Halloween festivities filled with frighteningly good vibes once again with 2016’s Escape: Psycho Circus. This was the company’s sixth Escape running; growing larger each year to reach a whopping 50,000 in attendance with this year, delivering probably the best lineup to date for the festival history. Among the list of globally renown electronic DJs and producers were artists such as Patrick Topping, Armin Van Buuren, Eric Prydz, Andrew Rayel, Dash Berlin, Loco Dice, Jauz, Claude Vonstroke and many many more. The festival featured four non-stop stages filled with lasers, confetti cannons, acrobatics and of course the most energetic crowds. The theme was prevalent as one walked throughout the festival, seeing characters who looked like escapees from an insane asylum, or maniacal circus clowns and nine foot wicked witches creeping throughout the grounds. There were several areas set up where festival goers could chill out or relax for a few and take a break from the madness and debauchery of incredible music and dancing. Some of these areas included the Jägermeister Haus, with a slide and wild face painting; the Vape Village, with E-cigs and refillable liquid cartridges available for sale; or the Corona Electric Beach Skull Day of the Dead dome, with free beach vibes and groovy beats as well as cool craft cocktails available for purchase. There were plenty of food and drink vendors to avoid unruly lines, and several VIP areas set up for the viewing pleasure of all VIP attendees. Some of these areas included separate bars and food vendors for easier access and even had a light up kandi making table station.


Perhaps the most unique feature of this year’s Escape, however, must have been the Escape Asylum. This was not your ordinary haunted maze attraction. In fact, a waiver had to be signed due to the fact that each and every person who entered the asylum was strapped into a straight jacket and then placed into a mask. After receiving their “medication” (a piece of smartie candy) patients were sent through the maze without guidance as to where to go. Around each corner or through each new corridor, brought another gruesome or freaky looking character, and one couldn’t help but to feel slightly helpless with no possible use of arms or hands as a defense. Through creepy dining room scenes and fields of larger than life mushrooms, patients eventually found their way through the asylum maze and returning to the festival.


The festival setting was laid out in a similar fashion as the previous years that Escape has been held at the NOS Event Center. When attendees first walk in, they are greeted with the beautiful landscape of a pond and water fountain along with the compliments of decorative, seasonally colored, illuminated balls floating within the leaves and branches of scattered trees. Many groups ecstatically entering stopped for a gorgeous photo-op before stripping down their costumes due to sweat and the unbeatable urge to keep moving. A few red and white striped, worn and beat up couches sat among the grass area that made for a primal meeting spot for attendees initially entering the festival grounds. Once past this area, headliners could walk left or right of the pond. If going left, the Psycho Circus and one of the festival’s Ferris Wheels would be discovered before hitting the remainder of the festival grounds. The Psycho Circus was another tent set-up to provide audience members with amazing sights, bone-chilling acts or comical clowns and character performances. The walkway to the right of the pond led to the two indoor stages; Cannibal’s Tea Party and the Chopping Block, as well as easy access towards the remainder of the festival. Although Cannibal’s Tea Party was a fantastic stage with the perfect dance floor, the Chopping Block did not resonate as well with festival goers. Friday night’s performances at the Chopping Block were often interrupted or inaccessible due to the inability for people to enter because of overpopulation. Unfortunately, this was an unforeseen issue by the Insomniac team, but has already responded to the crowd about future improvements regarding the hardstyle house. Next year’s hardstyle fans can expect an outdoor stage, according to Pasquale Rotella himself.


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There was another pressing matter in terms of crowd control from the weekend. On Friday evening, attendees stormed the gates and fences of the entrance, flooding security with uncontrollable masses and unanticipated chaos. Pasquale has always been highly responsive in any matter that pertains to any and all headliner involved, and addressed fans via social media regarding the rioting and rushing. “Turning away so many disappointed people wasn’t easy, and it created delays at the entrances and box office”. Pasquale continued to explain, “We’ve already begun discussing new strategies to outsmart the scalpers and the gate crashers because it’s frustrating to have the night start off on a sour note after working so hard to prepare a great show… We learn from every event we do and are always committed to getting better”. Insomniac has been highly successful in the arts and entertainment industry since their establishment in 1993, largely due to their dedication to fans, their willingness to listen and review feedback as well as make improvements and never settle for a mediocre delivery. Pasquale’s most recent message respectfully ended with him saying, “Thanks for always being so patient with us and for speaking your mind. I always hear you loud and clear”. Day 1 to Day 2 alone displayed great improvements in the security and entry process, with smoother lines and enhanced organization leading to quicker entrances and happier headliners.


Aside from this minor hiccup in the weekend’s ghoulish celebration, the event truly engulfed positive vibes and love for great music with great friends. If I had to chose my favorite sets then The Magician, Jamie Jones, Mark Sixma and Jauz are the initial names that stick out. Other notable performances include Duke Dumont, Lost Frequencies, Tchami and Kaskade. I think it is safe to say, however, that all the music heard over the weekend was thoroughly enjoyable and widely received by dancing feet and bouncing booties of all sorts. We Own the Nite NYC cannot express our gratitude enough to the entire Insomniac team for making this weekend possible. We look forward to attending an even bigger and better Escape in 2017, and can only imagine what type of wizardly ways or monstrous moves Pasquale Rotella is preparing for next year’s Halloween events.


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