Alison Wonderland provides spiritual experience at Red Rocks with “Temple of Wonderland”: Full Recap
Within the mountains of Morrison, Colorado, lies a concert venue. A place where 9500 people congregate every few days to be completely mesmerized by music. This venue goes well beyond just a single stage accompanied by numerous rows of seating, but as one person described it, a unique “ora” completely separate from the world outside the two rocks in which it lies in-between. The venue is the historic Red Rocks Amphitheater. A place that, through the years, has hosted some of music’s most iconic acts. From The Beatles to Daft Punk, U2, Jimi Hendrix and Coldplay, it is a stage that many musicians aspire to plant their feet on and showcase their very best performance. However, with all the legends that have graced that unique stage, you would be hardpressed to find a show that rivaled the masterpiece that superstar DJ Alison Wonderland displayed on Wednesday night for a sold-out Red Rocks crowd.
Titled “Temple of Wonderland,” it was a show that awaited much anticipation. The first edition took place back in 2019, and due to its success, Wonderland quickly announced a 2020 edition that promised to be a completely new experience, even better than the first one. The 2020 event was supposed to be one of Wonderland’s only headlining shows of the year. Because of this, the anticipation rapidly grew as “Temple of Wonderland” became billed as a cannot miss experience, and with that, the tickets quickly vanished. However, due to the evolving Covid-19 pandemic later in the year, the plan for Red Rocks no longer became a possibility. Wonderland inevitably announced in July of 2020 the tough but responsible decision that the show would be postponed and take place a year from its original date of September 15th. So come Wednesday, after much build-up and anticipation towards one of the biggest nights of her career, Wonderland was finally able to commence church, as she refers to it, upon Colorado.
After playing her Tuesday show, which she later added due to a sell-out on Wednesday, the day had finally arrived for the Australian-born producer to give the experience she had teased for over a year. As the sun began to set on the mountains of Morrison and the attendees started to arrive, the excitement grew exponentially. The minute you set foot on the grounds of Red Rocks Park, you could feel the anticipation in the air of what was to accumulate over the next several hours. Fans in the thousands lined up hours before and waited eagerly to walk the ramp that led up to the iconic venue. Inside waiting for them, was a production they had never witnessed before.
As 6:00 pm hit and the doors opened, fans rushed to get the best seats possible. The night included four opening acts, all of who gave unforgettable performances. A perfect build-up to Wonderland’s monumental set.
First was a 20-minute set from Alison Wonderland’s long-time manager Garth Crane aka DJ Garth. Next up was a historic and arguably ground-breaking moment for EDM as the next DJ, 16-year-old Moore Kismet took to the decks. In Kismet’s first-ever show, not just at Red Rocks but in Colorado, they certainly did not disappoint. Previewing some unreleased music and gritty drops, Kismet lived up to expectations and proved that they are a shining star in the future of electronic music. If you have not heard of Kismet, it would be best to get familiar soon as they are changing the mold of EDM as we know it. Following them was the good friend of Wonderland’s, Elohim. As always, she delivered yet again another masterful performance filled with her incredible vocals and vibey drops. Lastly, Valentino Khan made way to the stage for possibly one of the best sets of his career. It was no question that Khan would make the most out of his 60 minutes and be the perfect selection as the last act before Wonderland took the stage. A set curated with trap and house, it was a performance that continues to live in the memory of attendees almost a week later. The crowd then grew louder as the venue reached maximum capacity, and the moment people had waited for so long was next.
The lights shut off, and the roar from the 9500 was deafening as everyone knew that after 731 long-awaited days, church was finally in session. Then began a brand new intro that featured a stunning new compilation of visuals of Wonderland in various settings. Possibly the most memorable moment from the four-minute opening was when a silhouette of Wonderland appeared on the screen from behind the table and ascended into the sky. Wonderland then rose from below the stage and began what she stated as “the greatest night of [her] life.”
Wonderland opened with an ID that at the moment is deemed on 1001Tracklist as “Wake Up.” A few moments later, she played one of her biggest hits, “I Want U,” that fully embraced the entirety of the stage and its capability with the introduction of massive pyrotechnics. It wasn’t long into the show when Wonderland began to reveal the live elements of the show that she promised. The first being on “Happy Place” when she brought out drummers that accompanied her with two bass drums that rattled throughout the venue with each hit. By far one of the memorable moments of the performance, and it was only ten minutes into the show.
The set featured multiple IDs from Alison Wonderland unheard before until Wednesday night, but it also featured plenty of well-known tracks, including almost her entire 2018 album “Awake.” One song in particular released in 2020, “Anything,” with Valentino Khan, played 30-minutes into the set, in which Wonderland invited him to join her on stage to play it together for the first time.
However, one of the most talked-about IDs of the night came about 40 minutes in when Wonderland ditched the decks to take the front of the stage to sing as she previewed two brand new songs. The first track was as beautiful as any Alison Wonderland song created to date. As she sang, behind the LED wall stood a choir and a band that played along in what ended up being one of the most captivating moments of the entire night. Not to mention the remarkable multi-colored visuals that strobed behind Wonderland throughout the drop. With the words “Feels like forever, until it doesn’t,” the song certainly pulled on the heartstrings of every person in attendance. Even all these days later, it still creates goosebumps rewatching it. This track definitely will be one fan’s demand to be released as soon as possible.
After the two IDs, Wonderland played another career-defining song, “You Don’t Know,” that featured a live violinist and the entire crowd chanting the lyrics while pumping their fists in the air. Wonderland would then display her skills as she played the cello on the build-up for “Good Enough,” a track that has famously become known as her usual opener. In a moment best described as epic, she appeared back behind decks as she arose on a platform with a cello. Once again, with the choir and band behind her, it was an experience that words can not do justice.
As the night grew later, Wonderland continued to create other memorable moments as she stripped her songs “Peace” and “Church” down to an acoustic version and showcased how talented she is as a standalone singer. She then showed that not only is she one of the best producers in the industry but also one of the most gifted all-around DJs, with her transition into Kanye West and Lil Pump’s “I Love It’ and then mashup with M83’s “Midnight City.” She then provided the select people in the crowd who have followed her since the beginning with her classic remix of Duke Dumont’s “Ocean Drive.”
As the set came to a close, Wonderland penultimately finished with her newest solo track, “Bad Things.” It’s a song that not only has exquisite lyrics but includes a unique drop that just seemed like the perfect fit to end the historic night. After it finished, Wonderland took the time to thank everyone on her team, the workers at Red Rocks and the fans. It was an incredible moment as you could see how much the night had meant to her.
“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If it wasn’t for [the fans] I would not be here, and I really truly mean that.” – Alison Wonderland
She then finished by premiering a track that she had never played in front of any crowd before Wednesday. The song titled “Fear of Dying,” Wonderland said, was written to help cope with her fear of losing the people closest to her. It is a song that can relate to everybody and is one of Wonderland’s best-produced songs to date.
“It’s like my biggest fear that someone leaves me out of nowhere, and it scares the [explicitive] out of me. So I wrote this song about that, you know about my fear. And I thought that if I wrote about it, I would kind of feel better that I said it out loud. So you know, nothing is guaranteed, so I want you guys to be really good to each other. Please. And you know, give each other a hug.” – Alison Wonderland
As the song concluded, Wonderland let out a laugh of relief and said, “We did it guys” and invited her entire band on stage to take a photo with the audience. But as the show lights went down and the house lights came on, and you look down at a crowd of nearly 10,000 celebrating life, you start to think about it, just those three simple words hold so much meaning. We did do it. Think about all the music industry has been through over the last year, the revenue loss, the cancellation of thousands of shows. There was a time last year where every venue in the world was empty. Not a single musician was touring, and the future of live events like “Temple of Wonderland” were in question. And while we still have a ways to go, now, thanks to the hard work of many, we can put on live shows like Wednesday successfully. A nearly impossible opportunity during 2020.
Alison Wonderland didn’t just bring a concert to Red Rocks. She provided a whole spiritual experience. One that brought together people from all walks of life. People of different ethnicities, ages and orientation joined together under one Colorado sky to experience a moment two years in the making. Strangers, singing and jumping in unison and enjoying one another’s company. And for those six hours, all of the outside noise of the world did not matter. The night became another sign that proved music, specifically EDM, can do powerful and moving things.
There is a reason artists bring their best shows to Red Rocks because there is arguably no venue in the world that can compete with it. Its one-of-a-kind geography and breathtaking view make it a place that can’t be replicated. When you enter those magical grounds, you truly feel like you are in another world. It is an experience that all music fans need to be a part of at least once in their lifetime.
Alison Wonderland poured her heart and soul into this performance, and it was on full display through each intricate detail of Wednesday night. Even after injuring her leg on Tuesday, she did not let that affect her energy level or deteriorate the quality of the show the second night.
As she walked off the stage for the last time, followed by the sound of thousands screaming her name, you began to realize the magnitude of what she accomplished and all the hard work that Wonderland and her team put in. Then you begin to reminisce, and it’s remarkable when you look back at Wonderland’s career, just how far the DJ from Sydney has come.
From recording vocals on her iPhone’s voice memo app to producing her first songs as Whyte Fang. Facebook Live streams where she first premiered music that has become some of her biggest hits. Her Mixmag Lab session played in a small room in Los Angeles. From becoming the first solo woman act to play the EDC main stage to earning a slot on the coveted main stage of Tomorrowland in 2018, and recently even creating a song for Tetris.
All of these achievements (and many more) by Alison Wonderland were a build-up to the career-defining event that took place inside Red Rocks Park on Wednesday night. With “Temple of Wonderland,” she showed that nothing is impossible when chasing your passion. In a way, not only did Wonderland ascend on the screen that night, but also in her career. It was a moment that the 9500 in attendance will never forget. The night that Alison Wonderland truly took Red Rocks to a spiritual level.
Featured image Credit: Ana Wigmore/anawigmore.com