The last thing a lay-person would expect descending on the Pomona Fairplex is a gaggle of grown-ups, dressed to the nines that more closely resemble the lost boys of Peter Pan than a group, fully ready to self-indulge in one of the best Halloweekends that Southern California has to offer. As a tried and true fan of HARD Events, not only was I at the very first HARD Haunted, but I’ve followed the festivals around from The Forum to The Shrine, from LA’s Exposition Park and now – to my new favorite venue of in the Los Angeles ‘region’ – The Pomona Fairplex. I was there when HARD Summer was shut down during Crystal Castles, and I’ve seen more acts than I can count give the crowd lessons in heavy bass. The last event of theirs I went to was last year’s HARD Summer – and I made what I thought was an executive decision at the time that this would be my last HARD Festival, ever.
Heading into this year’s Day of the Dead, I literally had no expectations – sure, there were DJ sets that I was drooling over, and I was excited for it to be in a brand spankin’ new location; but I was ready for anything – and blown away by everything. From from Dubstep to Electro House, Deep House to Trap, for two days and nights, twenty two hours on 5 Different Stages – the crowd at the Pomona Fairplex was treated to some ghoulishly good treats and bass infused beats that you can’t help but shuffle your feet to. What made it so epic? Well, glad you asked!
Location, Location, Location
One thing about shifting locations, is that it’s brand spankin’ new for everyone – from Gary Richards, the head honcho of HARD himself, to the artists and right on down to the fans: this was a new adventure, and we were all down for the ride. Though the venue itself sits about 45 minutes outside of LA proper, it’s only about half as far from LA as the NOS Center in San Bernadino where Escape from Wonderland raged for two days – which is pretty excellent PLUR-spective. Once you made it to the Fairplex and navigated the various lines to park, get your tickets and then descend into the grounds themselves – it was game on! Everywhere you turned, there was ample space to move and groove, as well as space to wait for your crew, a plethora of delicious food trucks for anyone who got the munchies, an expansive row of patrons helping out in the various beer gardens and new friends everywhere you turned. In the past, I’ve had a time pushing through crowds, getting elbowed on the dance floor and having an all around claustrophobic clusterfuck of an experience – this is the first HARD event where they really accounted for how many bassheads would be in attendance, and how much room they’d all need to go HAAM on the dance floor. Kudos for finding such a prime piece of festival real estate; I can’t wait until we’re all back there together!
All Star Performances
It typically goes without mentioning that the entire roster of artists is on point for such a high caliber festival, but every set that I danced my ass off to was a phenomenal auditory adventure that had my whole crew looking around at each other to make sure we all knew how amazing it was. Whether you were an instant Superfriend during Zhu’s debut US performance, were front and center while Mau5ville opened up with Longest Road, took part in Sunday’s Dirtybird BBQ with Eats Everything, Justin Martin, ShibaSan and the Master himself – Claude VonStroke, or lost your mind when Bassnectar put on a masterclass of mixing – there were an infinite number of reasons I was proud to be back home, so to speak, surrounded by beautifully bouncing souls that were set free on the dance floor.
So Much Room for Activities
Going into the weekend, I was already excited for the Zip Lining, Ferris Wheel and stages – but what I hadn’t prepared for was how expansive the grounds really were. No joke, when I checked the Health app on my phone after one day at the festival it told me we walked 5 miles. Fitness aside, yet another wonderful trait of the fairgrounds is it’s size. There were 5 large stages set up and none of the noise from the stages bled together. To top it off, everyone knows that at a festival you’re going to run into people: there’s just so much energy, and enough confusion, that you’re literally going to bump into strangers and friends alike. Instead, like I was saying earlier, it was like everyone finally had enough of a personal bubble that it wasn’t an issue. We even managed to have a 10+ person yoga session smack dab in the middle of everything. To my complete surprise and utter happiness, this festival didn’t have same anxiety, pushing, low grumble of negative energy from people invading your personal bubble. Instead, we all bumped, danced, grinded, jumped and got down in a whole new realm of comfort.
Last, and most certainly not least – how could I forget about the myriad of mind blowing outfits and costumes I saw over the weekend. Now, I’m more of an ‘I’m Always a Cat’ girl – no, really; I always have cat ears when I’m out at festivals – to boot, I’m a tried and true testament to the fact you’ll enjoy yourself more if you’re comfortable. For me, that honestly means rocking it out in uber comfy clothes (a tank top, leggings, flat boots) and cat ears. but it was great to see how creative people could get! Of course, things got a little bit ratchet at HARD – but would you honestly expect anything less? For as many people were dressed up in costumes or dressed down in their cats and casuals, as I think I’ll forever call it, but there were a good number of fist pumping bros and girls wearing pasties, bras and Little Black Diamond shorts. I have the utmost respect for people who strut their stuff and don’t have a mind for what others think, but to the same token – and potentially, a symptom of my age – I kept wanting to put clothes on some of the girls; they looked freezing! But, once the sun went down – but inside the Fairgrounds, surrounded by the warmth of the dancefloor and a rampage of ravers – it was incredibly warm and downright comfortable.
I can’t wait for the next HARD Festival, and I surely hope more Southern California EDM Production Teams start taking advantage of that Primo Festival Real Estate.
Keep tabs on HARD for their highly acclaimed international and national festival dates through their website and socials –
Still can’t get over the weekend? No sweat, we’ve got some excellent pre-DOTD Soundcloud mixes sure to get you groovin’ into the long weekend: