Doing it Right: HARD Summer 2012

One of the best parts about living in Los Angeles (and trust me when I say there are a lot of great things about living here), is that there is never a shortage of fun to be had – especially in the summer months.  The sun is bouncing down on the city, and the city bounces back with some crazy fun parties located anywhere and everywhere: hotel rooftops, parking garage rooftops, warehouses in the depths of downtown, and sometimes even a Tiki Boat!

Just last weekend, HARD Fest hosted HARD Summer at LA State Historic Park in downtown Los Angeles.  What’s typically a relatively quiet sanctuary in the middle of a bustling city was transformed into a menagerie of colors, glowing objects, and kandi covered ravers.   The festival lit up the downtown skyline for two days from the early evening deep into the night and boasted top notch acts in multiple genres.  A definite perk of HARDsummer was that riding the Metro was free; no one had to worry about traffic, parking or who would be tasked with driving us home.

First, let’s get real for a second, and I love getting real: the lineup for the first night was less than impressive; however it was also a lot less packed.  The crowd was easier to navigate and even though I lost my phone, I didn’t lose my friends. Secondly, let me tell those of you that have yet to attend a multi day festival: it is aggressive!  Admittedly, my exhaustion after day one was mostly due to running from stage to stage in search of a danceable beat – but there were a few DJs that made my heart happy and made faces in the crowd melt.

Fake Blood never disappoints, so I’m glad he got to throw down on the ‘Harder‘ stage – it was a good dance party but unfortunately for the crowd his sound went off several times and the set lost a lot of momentum.  I saw Chromeo

briefly at Coachella, but HARD Summer was the first time I’ve gotten to enjoy them for more than 10 minutes – it was very disco and so groovy; some of my friends who were in the mix for the harder electro house and dubstep sounds weren’t impressed, but I bounced myself around that tent like it was my job; enjoying every minute of it. In the next tent over and two hours later, his brother A-Trak saved us from impending boredom while we waited for Boys Noize to deliver some real g’damn noise.  He (yes, it’s just one guy making a whole lot of noise) brought some tech house and electro house fit to rock the entire park.  He dropped his newest single as well as the first single ‘Next Order‘ by Dogs Blood – a collaboration between his label Boys Noize Records and OWSLA, owned by the headliner for the next night: Skrillex

If you’re in the mood for a multi-day-festi I’ll give you a little advice: wear comfortable shoes, locate a clever meeting spot for your group and hydrate! In a way, maybe it’s better that the lineup for the first night was nowhere near as awesome as the second because we all had ample energy on reserves just waiting to unleash it at the right time.

We got there a little earlier on the second day, and with good reason: when tickets were released you were only able to purchase a multi day pass but a few weeks after the lineup was released single day tickets became available and it became increasingly obvious which day the crowd favored (hint: not the first day.). The security line easily took four times longer than the first day, but that was of no concern to anyone once they were funneled back into a whimsical, grown up playground.

For the first few hours, I was immersed in a sea of dubstep – we caught the very end of Trolly Snatcha, and let me just tell you – watching people dance to dubstep is hilarious.  We migrated to Alvin Risk for a bit – long enough for me to hear a remix of Fun’s ‘We Are Young’  that I didn’t completely hate – but as soon as The Bloody Beetroots took the Hard Stage – we flocked like birds of a feather. He threw down some old favorites, like Warp 1.9 and New Noise, and a kickass remix of Rocksteady by Gigi Barocco.  Sprinkled throughout the set were fresh jams and remixes by the likes of Bingo Players, Congorock, Tommy Trash, and AC Slater – but for me the cherry on top was the new Knife Party and Mistajam collaboration: Sleaze; the set closed with an unexpected and readily enjoyable crowd favorite – Shout!

Fair warning: I have a slight obsession with NERO. I’ve seen them about five times now and each time they’re better.  The groups vocalist, Alana Watson, graced the stage alongside the DJs – providing live vocals and thrilling theatrics to the set.  Hearing ‘Promises‘ live in a festival setting was an unreal feeling but unfortunately for Nero, their set suffered the same fate as Fake Bloods with several delays in the music.  At the time, the dramatic pauses seemed annoyingly intentional and we took the opportunity to check out some more acts in the Discotheque.  That night was my first time seeing the famed Claude VonStroke – and I’m so glad I did, his disco sounds brought back the good vibe that Nero started.  From the Discotheque, we migrated to the OWSLA stage to catch the end of Zedd. It was only fitting that we went from that stage to seeing the master himself – Skrillex!  Say what you want about him, and trust me when I say there are some things that make me go *head/desk*, the man knows how to rock a crowd.  From his song choice, to his visuals and right on down to the energy of the crowd – he rivaled The Bloody Beetroots for best set of the day.

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