Excitement was in the air as I approached the Los Angeles State Historic Park on Saturday, November 3rd. Pulling up to the grounds of the sold-out HARD Day of the Dead fest via metro was an impressive sight to behold. The fairgrounds were all lit up, and the earth was already rumbling with the bass of the opening acts.
We excitedly made our way to the entrance and were met by the insanity of several thousand people crammed into one tiny area. I was hopeful that it was only a temporary security problem and joined the line on the far right side, where we proceeded to wait a full hour and forty five minutes. At that point, the police officers were lined up in riot gear, helicopters were flying over with spotlights, and the crowd was antsy, beginning to chant and push. As the crowd members in the back pushed all those in the front, I decided to take a step back to ascertain what was going on. Leaving the crowd, I retreated up to the metro platform and snapped this shot:
While I watched for the next hour, security let groups of 20 people go from the front of the crowd to run into the security lines. This led to people violently pushing their way through the crowd so as to get into that front area and eventually be let in. HARD later issued an apology for this disorganization on their Facebook.
Upset to be missing Jack Beats, Zeds Dead, and the Crookers, but not willing to subject myself to a rowdy, impatient crowd, I and many others retreated to have a drink across the street in hopes that organizers would work this situation out and not end up with a riot on their hands. After a few drinks, we came back and got in fairly easily.
I walked in just as a set by Knife Party (Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen of Pendulum) was beginning. Their massive stage pulsed to the heavy electro beats as they opened up their set with Wolfgang Gartner’s “Nuke.” The crowd went wild as Knife Party went from Jordy Dazz’s remix of Matt Nash, Dave Silcox, and Tom Peppe’s “Hearts” into a mash up of Project 46′s remix of Haddaway’s “What Is Love” with a dub of Swedish House Mafia’s “Antidote.”
The bass dropped hard for their remix of Labyrinth’s “Last Time” and Leon Boiler’s “Us.” Other songs they played included Jordy Dazz & Mightyfools’ “Drum Fail,” Firebeatz’s “Here We Fucking Go,” their own “Rage Valley,” Nari & Milani’s “Atom,” and their “Tourniquet.” Knife Party kept the energy levels high throughout their entire set and definitely did not disappoint their thousands of dancing fans.
Next I stopped off over at the Discotheque tent to check out French DJ/producer Gesaffelstein (aka Mike Levy).
The beats were groovy and Gesaffelstein’s heavy hitting bass had everyone dancing to his tracks, including “Control Movement” and Vakkuum’s “Sonar.” He was originally scheduled to do a back-to-back set with Brodinski, but unfortunately, Brodinski had visa issues.
I particularly loved the crowd vibe at this stage. Everyone was bouncing around to the house beats with their hands in the air and smiles on their faces.
In a break before Justice and Tommy Trash, I hopped into the short line for the FREE ferris wheel and captured some aerial shots of the festival. The skyline made for quite an impressive backdrop.
The crowd beginning to gather for Justice was an impressive one, and they let out cheers as the iconic cross appeared on stage.
The Knife Party-hosted Ear Storm stage as seen from above was overflowing with dancing people.
Justice (French duo Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé) opened their set with “Genisis” and then kept the energy up by mixing tracks off their new album Audio, Video, Disco with tracks off their earlier album, †.
I loved hearing them drop “Helix,” “Civilization,” and their version of the Soulwax song “NY excuse.” The crowd went wild when they played they well-known track “D.A.N.C.E.” While their set was enjoyable as ever, I will say the set list did not differ much from their Coachella or Outsidelands sets earlier this year.
I trekked back across the park to the Ear Storm stage where Tommy Trash was giving everyone a dose of heavy electro beats. He dropped “Future Folk,” his remix of Deadmau5′s “The Veldt.” Watching his hair explode up and down with the beats was particularly amusing.
The crowd went crazy as he dropped Jewelz feat. Scott Sparks “Toxic Rush” mashed up with “Walking On A Dream.”
Then I headed over to catch Diplo dropping his big single of the moment, “Express Yourself,” followed by Munchi’s “Sandungueo,” which really got the booties bumping to the bass.
With the exception of the hideous wait and the chaos and general feelings of fear that ensued from that incident, all in all HARD Day of the Dead was a fantastic event with a stellar lineup, great stage set ups, and an excellent crowd. I took my metro ride back to Hollywood quite satisfied.
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