By Zach Collier
Love it or hate it, YNG+DMB has made massive waves since 2020. Born in the midst of the pandemic, the event company known for massive themed dance parties drew harsh criticism for their defiance of lockdown protocol. But their anti-authoritarian stance embodied a punk spirit rooted in Gen Z ideology that struck a nerve and won them tens of thousands of followers.
“Life sucks. Life is really hard, especially in light of what’s going on in the world,” the group’s early mission statement read. “Nobody is sure of anything anymore. We’re not sure how long the coronavirus is going to last. We’re not sure if the country will ever be united again, politically. We’re not sure if college is worth the money. We’re not sure if we’re going to get married. Hell, we’re not even sure if we’re gonna get a text back. Everything is up in the air, and when nothing is certain except uncertainty, loneliness is always waiting around the corner.”
In the years since the pandemic, YNG+DMB has had considerably less controversy. Their lavish, experience-rich gatherings have consistently drawn thousands of attendees, making them some of the biggest events in the state. A fiercely devoted fanbase has fallen in love with these distinctly Utahn events (which feature zero drugs or alcohol). These fans have magnified and spread the nobler aspects of those Gen Z ideals embodied in that early mission statement: relentlessly positive nihilism.
“I’ve been to 4 or 5 YNG+DMB events,” says partygoer Nikolai Johansen. “The environment is great. It’s different from most parties. Most parties have a bunch of cocky people there. This is a break. People are chill and down to earth. I’ve met people from Vegas, from Texas, from all over. They go crazy, but they’re really positive.”
Going crazy while being positive has allowed YNG+DMB to take massive risks: experimenting with bold themes and venues like yachts on Utah Lake, mansions in the mountains, Zion’s Bank Stadium, and now the Historic Shri Shri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah. A place of worship for The International Society of Krishna Consciousness, this beautiful and sacred property is home to the Color Festival, a Hindu tradition dating back hundreds of years and a beloved Utah County event.
In addition to being at cool, gorgeous outdoor venue, this event will be distinct from all past YNG+DMB events. Instead of one of their usual dance parties, this will be WONDRLAND: their first music festival.
“We at YNG+DMB are honored to pilot WONDRLAND at this most precious and beautiful of areas,” says YNG+DMB co-founder Kwaku El. “To be honest, party groups come and go. As a creative I wanted to try something bigger! As our audience gets older and grows, we have to grow with them.” Providing varied experiences is one way he hopes YNG+DMB can honor the growth of their fans.
Plus, one of his life goals has always been to start a music festival. One that lasts and becomes a cultural mainstay. “To be honest, I was and am still quite nervous. The music scene is very connected and sort of feels like a big friend group. They’re all very talented, and then randomly we announce that now we’re in the music scene,” he laughs, noting the distinction between the concert and party scenes. “I’m interested to see how this blend happens.”
WONDRLAND’s first event will feature up and coming Utah musicians Brock Davis and Benjamin Taylor; hip hop and R&B artist O/B/A; and breakout success Paige Fish. This group has a massive combined following on TikTok. We’re talking millions of followers. They’re all stoked about WONDRLAND.
“I’m just excited for a good time. Just ready to feel the energy of the crowd and take them with me,” says O/B/A. “2023 is gonna be massive.” He’s looking forward to meeting a ton of new fans ahead of his new releases at the end of this year.
This is Paige Fish’s first time working with YNG+DMB, but she’s always been a fan of the crowd they’ve been able to draw. “The better the crowd the funner the time,” she laughs. Although she’s still in high school, she’s speaking from experience here: she recently sold out a headlining show at Velour in April before doors even opened. WONDRLAND will feature her bandmates, guitarist Thomas Smith and bassist Thomas Stockwell. They’ll be celebrating “26 and 24,” her latest song. “It’s the most relatable,” she explains. “It’s for people who have been through breakups and hope to come back to it one day. Most breakup songs are super salty, but this is a hopeful one.”
Brock Davis is also hyped about the opportunity. He hopes he’ll make a lasting impression. “I want to be one of the performers that gets the crowd involved. I want people to go home feeling like it was a great show because they participated in it as well,” he says. “It’s important to make a name. Especially by doing it in a positive way.”
WONDRLAND is billed as “A night of music and magic.” As such, magicians, psychics, soul mate predictors, and speed readers will all be on full display. Additionally, thrift shops, apparel brands, candy shops, food trucks, and photo studios will be available to enrich the experience.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been to a party,” says local partygoer Ashlyn Wood about why she’s attending WONDRLAND. “I’m really excited for the people and the atmosphere.”
Artist Benjamin Taylor loves the magical twist. “Magic can touch people,” he says. “It can shock them and amaze them. I also think the right song can cause magic in someone’s heart. It’s going to be a fun, romantic night.”
After the cancellation of Hive Music Festival this week, interest in WONDRLAND (from both attendees and major labels) has spiked considerably. “We are working like crazy right now,” says Kwaku El. Provo Music Magazine will keep you updated about any additional festival developments.
WONDRLAND is June 16. You can snag discounted presale tickets online here. Make sure to follow YNG+DMB on Instagram, and check out “26 and 24” by Paige Fish and Landon Boyce below.