All photos by Rukes, rukes.com
The most anticipated Los Angeles event of summer occurred last weekend, HARD Summer and we are going to give the lowdown if you happen to miss the epic event.
Friday was rough. The Magnetic team arrived there later in the night due to complications at the will-call/media check-in window. Expecting a smooth check-in process—as normal—we arrived at the HARD check-in window that was located at the Sheraton about 10-minutes away from the actual venue.
After I left the 2-hour will-call dilemma it was already 11 pm. Missing all of Miike Snow, Oliver, and Fake Blood, I was kind of disappointed but then the atmosphere of HARD quickly snapped me out of those thoughts. Immediately once I entered the grounds I was surrounded by hipsters and LA natives, I felt at home. The absence of everything neon was nice, instead it felt like a giant house party. It was RAW and REAL.
First artist I caught was the MPC king, Araabmuzik. Already familiar with his work, I got my MPC fix pretty quick and headed to a little of Chromeo and their DJ set. I never really caught the Chromeo bug that hit the LA scene a few years back but I was nonetheless impressed by their set even though it sounded oddly similar to A-Trak. (Actually not odd at all, if you are unaware David Macklovitch of Chromeo is A-Trak’s younger brother) After realizing that A-Trak was up next, I ran to the beer garden to get a little boost.
A-Trak is always a good show though this past event he didn’t quite perform to the standard that I set. Maybe because I enjoy him most commonly in a club setting rather a festival/rave one, either way, there wasn’t a large amount of jaw dropping scratching that you can normally expect. Unsatisfied, I left A-Trak to catch Erol Alkan.
Unfamiliar with Alkan’s work, I was impressed as soon as I stepped on the HARDer! Stage. Alkan performing for a half-full crowd was throwing down HARD and left an impact on myself. From Erol I wandered to catch the closing sounds of Bloc Party, one of the bands headlining the festival. Bloc Party was well aware of the crowd they were performing for saying something over the mic like, “I know we aren’t playing techno music” and went on to thank those in attendance. I decided to watch the end of Bloc Party and replenish myself in the beer garden before headlining act Boys Noize.
Alex Ridha or Boys Noize has always been a big supporter for HARD and Gary Richards, which made him well deserving of the first night headlining act. That, and, well, he conjures a massive crowd. About every fan in attendance lined up and awaited the appearance of the massive DJ—then before you knew it the lights dimmed and the HARD Stage was about to erupt. Slowly building the tempo leading to massive drops, Boys Noize controlled all of those in attendance. From disco/tech-house to hip-hop to dubstep to electronica Boys Noize is not afraid to play anything, truly demonstrating why we was the headliner of the opening night.
Before you knew it the night was over… Or was it? Gotta Dance Dirty teamed up with Live Well LA to throw the official secret after party featuring Brodinski and Boys Noize. A party that got so big and out of control that the venue that was to be used for both nights was not allowed back the following Saturday night.
The start of Saturday was a lot smoother that Friday night but one thing was different. There was about 10 times the amount of people in attendance. Neon tutus, face paint, rave attire galore. Girls in barely something and guys in costumes, night 2 the freaks of LA came out and probably because of one name. Skrillex.
I arrived in time to catch Alvin Risk in what was the night before the Fool’s Gold Tent but that day was the OWSLA tent. Throwing down hard and dropping his remixes throughout the set really got me prepared for the rest of the night. It seemed like that was the plan of attack for many people. About 30 minutes in I heard a very familiar voice coming from a distant stage. I followed that voice all the way over to the HARDer! Stage where none other that LA’s own 12th Planet was jumping on his booth.
12th Planet is his best MC. He posses an ability that many DJs ignore or feel they don’t need and that is the ability to hype up the crowd. Screaming throughout his set saying “Jump, Jump!” or “LA how you feeling?” in his raspy deep voice, only triggers his audience to rage harder and harder. Which was filling because he was at the HARDer! Stage. Due to a ridiculously packed line-up for day 2 I unfortunately left before 12th Planet finished his set for the Bloody Beetroots.
Personally I have not seen these guys live without the Death Crew 77 so I was excited to see them preform. Myself and about a couple thousand others watched in awe as the Bloody Beetroots put on a show at the HARD Stage. Before I knew it their set was over and the 25 minutes I took to see them seemed like one song it was so good. I was then faced with other Day 2 complication, Dillon Francis or back to 12th Planet. I went with not giving a s*** or f***.
Dillon Francis has become one of my favorite producers in the last year with being in the driver’s seat for the moombahton movement. Recently the LA producer dabbled in some trap music with his “Masta Blasta Rebirth.” D Francis dropped every hit single that he has ever produced and I want to say it was the most packed tent of the night, keyword “tent.” From “IDGASOF” to “Masta Blasta” he played them all and in good old Dillon Francis style.
Getting caught up in his set, before I knew it Zedd was arriving to the stage. I looked down at my schedule and saw that I was about to miss two highly anticipated acts, NERO (live) and Datsik. Datsik was a fan favorite and majority of the fans in attendance were true Datsik fans. They knew when the drop was coming and his anthem bangers, which makes sense when you have to compete against NERO. My time did not last long over at the HARDer! Stage where Datsik resided. I got kicked out of being backstage, not sure how I ended up there but once security noticed it they threatened to take my pass and escort me off the grounds. I decided to leave the stage and head to the remainder of NERO.
NERO, who is a headliner themselves, was to open for Skrillex. So many had already camped out their spots for the entire night at the main stage (HARD Stage). The best view I found was either on a hill overlooking the main stage or in the beer garden. Which at that time I became distracted with all the people around me, who you could tell were partying HARDer than me. The night was taking a toll as people transformed into zombies awaiting their leader they call Skrillex.
Before Skrill was to take the main stage, I wandered back the OWSLA tent to catch Zedd performing “Shave It” with two giant inflatable razors shaving his face. Once the young German producer got his fresh cut he quickly went into “Stars Come Out” an anthem that sparked enough energy for the youth in attendance to finish the night for the man in all black.
A 3-minute countdown was launched as a spaceship emerged from the smoke. Slowly the crowd got louder and louder as time passed and then he arrived. The festivals headliner emerged and Skrillex took the stage. His set was enhanced by probably the best effects of the festivals including LED light shows, YouTube videos streamed with his music, lazers (when talking about EDM you spell Lazer with a Z), and finally a whole shit load of air cannons.
Playing every Skrillex hit imaginable from the old to the new, “Rock n Roll” to “Right on Time.” Los Angeles being the place that Skrillex calls home, he really demonstrated his love for the city and most importantly his fans. Saying over the mic, “Los Angeles you are the best crowd,” which we are, and he stated how much love he had for the city of LA. That was followed up with Skrillex throwing up the LA sign with his fingers, that moment gave everyone in attendance goose bumps.
The goose bumps that Skrillex gave us turned into chills as the night was coming to an end. HARD was everything I wanted it to be, everything it needed to be. There were no epic fireworks or parachute skydivers, there were no giant flowers or large art statues. Instead it was LA. HARD designed a sign that reminded me of the Hollywood sign and that was about it. The stages were of perfect size and the production behind the music was spot on. Instead of blinding the audience with strobe after strobe, it was fitting, enough light to put the crowd in ‘awe’ but not enough to take away from the music. The lacking supply of females in their tutus and bros with their shirts off represented exactly what Los Angeles is. Those that came to party did, no need to buy special outfits, just round your crew and rage. Gary Richards, well done sir.