As I approached the LA State Historic Park last Saturday, I mulled over several inevitable facts: my sleep schedule would be off-kilter from lack of proper rest in proportion to energy expended, the possibility of my legs not functioning for most of the following week was very real, and I was basically accepting the fact that I’d be inhaling dust for the better half of the weekend, resulting in what fellow LAmb writer Tim Wut and I had dubbed “Ebola Boogers.” And yet here I was for the third year in a row, ready and eager to take it all on again. The reason? Music, of course.
Although the undisputed champion of SoCal massive culture is, at present, Insomniac, HARD has managed to differentiate itself by offering up a lineup that has historically been, er, harder. That is to say, harder-hitting beats with some emphasis on more “underground” electronic-ish acts. Bass capable of making your cheeks ripple is a pretty common occurrence. For that reason, I’ve always found myself coming back to this festival excited despite the slew of summer festivals that regularly make their way through our fair city for our musically spoiled pleasure. So it was that I spent last Saturday at the LA State Historic Park for the third year in a row.
My first stop: Disclosure. Since my plans to see them last April were hampered by Dustchella 2013, I was very much eager to catch their set this time around. With their live vocals and drumming seamlessly interwoven with electronic beats, they were a stellar way to start my day. The only thing that could have made their set better would have been a surprise appearance from Jessie Ware a la Coachella 2013. Given how obscenely packed the Underground tent was for their set, it’s safe to say their clout was sorely underestimated; they would have been much better suited to one of the outdoor stages.
I wandered over to catch the beginning bit of Flux Pavilion, whose pulsating dubstep wobbles were a huge crowd-pleaser. After drinking in some of that bass, I wandered back over to the Underground for Julio Bashmore, an act that I also missed at this past Coachella due to the Yuma tent’s clusterfucky line situation. This time the tent was noticeably emptier though I couldn’t for the life of me see why. Julio Bashmore’s set was a tantalizingly mixed journey that puts the prosaic banger-laden sets of recent to shame.
Speaking of tantalizingly mixed journeys, Alex Metric’s set following Julio Bashmore’s in the same tent was easily another standout. Though with markedly more poppy undertones, Alex Metric delivered a set that was anything but predictable despite its catchy hooks. Though undeniably groovy, his set showed a total lack of complacence and a willingness to push some boundaries.
My evening concluded with an eclectic set from LA native Flying Lotus. Having seen him several times prior, I knew that when it comes to Flying Lotus, the only expectation to have is no expectation since each of his sets tends to be so completely different from any another. HARD Summer 2013 was no exception. FlyLo played heavily from his latest release, Until the Quiet Comes, but with a decisively urban slant right now thanks to the on-stage rapping. Although at times lacking cohesion, FlyLo’s set was still among the more eclectic ones to catch.