Last year’s Hard Fest was arguably one of my favorite shows of 2010. The Los Angeles State Historic Park, right on the edge of Chinatown, served as an awesome venue. Large, spacious, plenty of grass on which to sit…overall, it contributed to just a really chill vibe. When people asked me about Hard, or didn’t know what it was and asked about the rave, I was comfortably able to reply that it felt more like a music festival than a rave. Sort of like just hanging out 24/7 at Coachella’s Sahara Tent.
Anyway, enough reminiscing about last year. This year’s lineup was promising once again: Ratatat, Chromeo, Nero, Skrillex, Boys Noize, etc., etc….bass music aficionados, funk heads, and hard electro fans mother truckin’ unite. And to be honest, that’s really who came out to the event. The friends who have declined invites to the other house/trance heavy events I’ve been to this year have said “yes, Yes, and YES” to Hard Summer. I suppose I’d label them more as my “music savvy friends,” and that’s really the demographic I’ve seen come through Hard Events as they tend to focus on booking artists with smaller, less mainstream followings.
No candy bracelets, toys, or glowsticks allowed. Sorry fellow candy kids, gotta leave those at home this time… Booty shorts and leg fluffies are all good though (lol). Production value was basic with stages and lights, no frills, just the music and the crowd. All good, I’m here to see every artist that I can.
Anyway, to recap, the event sold out at 30,000 tickets this year…same festival, same venue, but a bit more packed. Crowd was overall the same with a little bleed over from the mainstream; so things got a little broski towards the more crowded parts of the night, but overall, it was still good. People were friendly and showed the sunflower much love, so no complaints. But sorry in advance for you readers as I just couldn’t swing any properly close up shots .
My day opened up around 6pm with Dillon Francis and some Moombahton. I’ve been hating on the genre for a few months now, but definitely wanted to check it out in a live setting and really see what the heck it’s all about. Major Lazer + Dirty Dutch slowed down to 110 bpm just hasn’t really caught my fancy, but upon hearing it live, I finally got it. Next time you hear some Moombahton at a live show with proper speakers, don’t be surprised if you immediately scan the crowd for a grinding partner. Trust me.
By the way, check out “Westside” by Dillon Francis. Not quite Moombahton, but it’s just a straight up bangin’ track.
Next up was Gesaffelstein followed by Karlsson & Winnenberg (of Miike Snow) at the Summer Stage. Dubbed the dust bowl, the stage was clear across the other side of the venue but was well worth the quick jog over. Gesaffelstein played a HARD electro set while rocking a tuxedo, and it was mindblowingly good. And classy. Clean transitions, and multiple “Oh f*ck, what is that song?” moments guaranteed a good time. Would definitely see him again, especially with the ridiculous to pronounce name.
With Karlsson & Winnenberg I feel like they get a “get out of jail free” card for their work with Miike Snow. They could play ANYTHING and people would love it cause it’d be “totally expected/unexpected.” Their set was all over the place with electro, hard house, some techno hits, and you know what? It was TOTALLY UNEXPECTED and rocked my face off. Group sentiment was the same. Definitely one of the best sets of the night.
We caught Ratatat after that to slow things down a bit. I love their music and was ecstatic to finally be able to catch them. Something about live sets always gets me in a good way. Watching the long-haired guys jamming out on guitars on stage, playing music that I initially thought was created on a computer program, was just mind-boggling. Would definitely catch in the future.
Digitalism followed Ratatat, and as always did not disappoint. My good friend Panda Sparks rationalized seeing these guys over Chromeo in a good way: a) These guys are from Germany and hardly ever come Stateside; b) They are playing a live set which only adds to the exclusivity of this particular show; c) This is the closest she is going to get to getting laid this summer while her boo is international. L. O. L. And the fellas did not disappoint. Not quite sure if it was orgasm-inducing to that extent, but they definitely brought it with their upbeat electronica rock.
Next up was Nero at the Harder Stage, and this is where things got a little scary. We could barely push up closer than 200 feet from the main stage so we decided to just hang out towards the back a little. They dropped one of the sickest dub and drum & bass sets that I’ve heard in awhile with seamless mixes between the two; some well-timed MC’ing and dirty beats go a long way. Always a fan of these guys though the volume settings were lacking . Bummer for them…
Unfortunately only stopped by to see a little bit of Chromeo, but from what I did hear, they were throwing a party for sure. Once again, live acts for the win.
To close the night, we had Boys Noize and Skrillex. Only caught a bit of Skrillex, because of my fear of large packed crowds, but what we did hear was good. Heard a new remix of “Cinema” with the ‘proper’ one to close his set. He was definitely on point. Boys Noize’s set didn’t really pick up until the last half, but when it did, it was all good. He even dropped Destructo’s “Technology” track, a quick homage to the guy who put the festival together. Some good vibes right there.
Favorite set of the night? Gesaffelstein/Guggenheim/Gesundheit. Most impossible-to-pronounce name ever. Can’t wait for Hard Haunted Mansion!
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