[The Audiofiles] Tricks, Treats and Beats – How HARD’s Day of the Dead Won Halloweekend

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.

Costumes

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 –

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Soundcloud

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:

[The Audiofiles] Required Listening for HARD’s DOTD

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– Purchase Tickets: 2 DaySaturday Only / Sunday Only  –

Festival Details

Pomona Fairgrounds
1101 W. McKinley Ave.
Pomona, CA, 91768

18 to Dance | 21 to Drink

Music starts at 11 AM Saturday and Sunday, ends at 11PM


Back in 2008, a small event called HARD Haunted graced the Shrine Exposition Hall in Los Angeles, and ever since:  the dance music scene in Southern California has never been the same. This year’s Day of the Dead marks my 4th Halloween spent with the HARD family – two at HARD Haunted, now my second at Day of the Dead; and it’s a holiday that I personally wouldn’t have any other way.  Over the last few years, HARD has migrated all across the greater Los Angeles area – from The Shrine to the Hollywood Palladium, Downtown LA’s State Historic Park and now in their 7th year, they’ve landed some mad luck with the new location at the Pomona Fairgrounds.  It’ll be my first time there for anything, so I’m excited to for this new journey that we’ll all be taking together.  Since we’ll be at the Fairgrounds, it’s only proper that we act accordingly – and that means Zip-Lining across the festival grounds, an awesome Ferris Wheel dubbed the Century Wheel, and The Typhoon – an awesome looking carnival coaster.  And as always, there will be loads of merch stands and over a dozen different food vendors, ready to cater to every type of dietary need: vegan, vegetarian and carnivore.

Over the last few years, as EDM Festivals have been held under exponential scrutiny – HARD has drawn a line in the sand in a push for more mature dance events; their festivals are an  18+ adventure that frowns on ‘Cuddle Puddles’, rave lights, pacefiers and face masks.  For some, this might feel slightly disillusioning and a blow to their perceived individuality at said events; but at the end of the day, it’s not just about image but safety, for the patrons as well as the festival itself.

  • Make sure you have your essentials: ID, Credit Card, Cell, Cash, Robot Ears and Good Vibes.
  • and some The Pomona Fairgrounds are pretty expansive, with two days and 5 stages to visit you’ll want to opt for comfortable shoes over fancy footwear.
  • Layers are your friend: It’ll get to almost 80 during the day, but prepare for some blustery wind and nighttime chills.  I mean, Winter is coming.
  • Regardless of weather, if you’re dancing a storm you’re gonna sweat – remember Water is your friend; fill up often and make sure everyone in your crew does the same
  • Earplugs might dull the bass, but when you’re older – you’ll thank us.
  • The Buddy System – there’s something said for flying solo at a festival, but if you’re in a group make sure you have a meeting point and a bestie.

[Click to Enlarge]

This year, CamelBakcs and GoPro’s have the Green Light, but as I was saying earlier – there’s a pretty expansive list of Don’ts; besides the very obvious ones (no outside food, no outside alcohol, no ins and outs, no weapons, etc…), here are the highlights for you pretty party people, and then a few from me.

  • NO Masks
  • NO Laser Pointers
  • NO LED Gloves or LED Microlights used for Light Shows
  • NO Markers, Pens or Spray Paint
  • NO Large Chains or Spiked Jewelry
  • NO Balloons, Balls, Inflatable Balls or Frisbees
  • NO Tents, Large Umbrellas, Chairs or Blankets
  • NO Stuffed Animals or Dolls (Including Plush Backpacks)
  • NO Kandi Bracelets or Kandi Necklaces
  • NO Electronic or Vapor Cigarettes
  • NO Wubs
  • NO Totems
  • NO Bad Attitudes

Mobile App

As a tried and true Techie, I have immense respect for Music Festivals that respect the 21st Century.  HARD DOTD’s interactive and immersive mobile app for Android and iPhone is the perfect combination of festival fun and ergonomics, right in the palm of your hand.  On the top, you can see the current temperature at the festival and at the bottom there’s a lovely little countdown window, tick-tocking away until the gates open on Saturday morning.  Click through the tabs on the left, and you’ll have access to the HARD Mixtapes that have been slowly but surely appearing on Soundcloud, directions to the Pomona Fairgrounds, a site-map and the opportunity to make your own schedule and navigate unexpected time conflicts as you peruse the lineup.  There’s assorted details like Set Times, Stage, Artists Details and Socials and last, but certainly not least, you can set a timed reminder so you don’t miss your favorite artists; GENIUS.  Between the running tally’s of most anticipated sets and most liked artists through the API, if you pop over to the Discover tab you’ll see the latest and greatest trends – which directly correlates to the biggest potential crowds.The only thing missing from the Official App is something like FireChat, a mobile texting technology that’s proven useful for off the grid events like Burning Man and then gained international notoriety during the recent protest in Hong Kong.  The app creates a network of phones that can still communicate with each other on the festival grounds even if they can’t upload their latest Snapchat or Selfie. #Priorities

 Scheduling Conflicts and Highlights

Gaining acclaim under the DJ moniker Destructo, Gary Richards – HARD’s proverbial Fairy Godmother – once again outdid himself on the event this year. To curate artists – not just for the event, but for each of the five stages (HARD, HARDER, Pink, Purple and 7UP) for both days, for a specific feel – takes a vision, drive, passion and respect for his peers. That said, if you’re a Tech head, you’ll probably end spend Saturday at the Pink Stage and Sunday at the Dirty Bird on the Purple Stage.  Want to get your wubs on – just Enter The Void with RL Grime’s Pink Stage on Sunday.  Feeling experimental? Dive into Saturday’s Purple Stage.

Saturday

On a personal level, there are so many great acts on both days, it’s easy to just get lost in the schedule.  I was turned on to acts like Sweater Beats and Shakehips at Do LaB events, so it’s awesome seeing them represented here as well.  Sweater Beats has a bunch of new tracks that I’ve been lusting over lately, so fingers crossed I get to hear ‘Dark Matter’ live.  I love Seven Lions, so that’s a no brainer; between him and Bassnectar, maybe I can even pick up a few hair tips.   ! I’ve been crossing my fingers for no conflicts and on Saturday there’s really only one (well, I guess technically, it’s two): Pretty Lights, TEED and ZHU are all overlapping and making my life difficult.  I’ll be getting a double dose of PL over New Years Eve for Sea of Dreams, and this is ZHU’s North American debut – so I’ll probably skip PL – head to TEED then ZHU, but man…that’s a tough one; and it’s easier said than done. (Have you ever seen Pretty Lights live, I mean, WOW).  To end Saturday night, I’ll be getting weird in Mau5ville as Prydz and Deadmau5 head back to back for an epic two hour dance off. I should apologize to Jamie Jones, Knife Party, Araab MUZIK and Odesza now before it’s Saturday because I won’t be leaving that main stage once those two start going off…

  • Sweater Beats, 7 Up Stage, 2:05
  • Seven Lions, HARD Stage 4:30
  • Snakehips, 7 Up Stage 5:05
  • AlunaGeorege, 7Up Stage 6:25
  • Pretty Lights, HARD Stage 6:55 (Alternate)
  • Tottally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Pink Stage 7pm
  • ZHU, HARDer Stage, 7:20
  • Diplo, HARD Stage, 8:15
  • Deadmau5 vs Prydz, HARDer Stage 8:50

 Sunday

If you’re going for only one of the days – I’d pick Sunday. Between the Dirty Bird BBQ on the Purple Stage which promises surprise guests and back to back sets, RL Grime’s Enter the Void on the Pink Stage and a closing set from the man, the myth – the epic hair himself, Sir Bassnectar – the only act that compares in any way on Saturday is the epic Mau5 off: Eric Prydz vs DeadMau5.  And that’s some real talk. There’s actually so much musical win on Sunday that I have a bit of anxiety, three times over.  First, I have to pick between Eats Everything and RL Grime….at the end, Claude vs Bassnectar but the worst is that  Zeds Dead, Cashmere Cat and Booka Shade are on within 10 minutes of each other on the HARDer, Pink and 7Up Stage.  And the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae? I finally get to Trop til I Drop with Thomas Jack – I was so bummed to find out he wouldn’t be at Lightning in a Bottle this year (visa issues, I believe) that it’s about damn time I get to see him live.

  • Shiba San, Purple Stage, 3:30
  • Aeroplane, 7Up Stage, 4:10
  • Big Gigantic, HARD Stage, 5:00
  • Thomas Jack, 7Up Stage, 6:00
  • Eats Everything, Purple Stage, 7:15
  • RL Grime, HARD Stage, 7:20
  • Zeds Dead, HARDer Stage, 8:30
  • Cashmere Cat, Pink Stage, 8:35
  • Booka Shade, 7Up Stage 8:40
  • Claude VonStroke, Purple Stage, 9:45
  • Bassnectar, HARDer Stage, 9:45

For last minute details, interviews and more – keep it locked on The DJ List; for more information about HARD and their upcoming events, try their socials:

HARD DOTD | HARD Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Soundcloud

Doing It Right: HARD Presents – Day of the Dead

I think I’m finally on the verge of recovery from last weekend’s shenanigans – in typical Bouncy Kitty fashion, I more than enjoyed myself at the Music Festival last Saturday.  Sure, there were lines and there was pushing, it took forever to get in and then there were a clusterfuck of people – but that all comes with the territory of festival dwelling and was more or less expected.  Between the chaos and the camaraderie, I had such an amazing night with some of my closest friends – here are some of the highlights:

First of all, not to toot our costume horn but beepm’f’in’beep, my friends! The other weekend a zany, but plausible idea popped into my head in the middle of a brainstorming sesh: My friends and I were discussing our habitual Halloween “fall back” costumes, and a few of us admitted it was actually our “Plan A” every year and mine just happens to be a kitty cat (shocker…).  Well, because we were going to ‘Day of the Dead‘ I thought it’d be fun to incorporate some morbidity into our costumes – so, obviously, I opted for “Dead Cat”…which turned into “Dead Animals”…which somehow turned into “Hey, guys! Let’s be ROADKILL!”  I knew I loved my friends before, but I adore them 150% more because they went along with my ridiculously awesome idea.

Sexy Pieces of Dead Ass

The next highlight of the evening was getting a chance to finally see Miss Maya Jane Coles in action – as much as this was a personal highlight, it doesn’t begin to tell you how effing excited all my friends were.  She was the sole reason they bought their tickets and fended off the damn bike fences – hands down, one of the best deep house sets I’ve heard all year and according to my friends it was 110% completely worth it.

One thing I love about using LA State Historic Park as a venue is the ample stage space for ostentatious set-ups.  The Earstorm Stage where Knife Party ripped the festival a new one was no exception – it was huge, fabulous and stocked to the brim with more lights and lasers than I could count.

EARStorm Stage: Knife Party, Kill the Noise, Tommy Trash, Zane Lowe….

Last – but certainly far from least – I FINALLY SAW KNIFE PARTY!  When Knife Party came into the scene last year I didn’t know how to feel or what to expect from their evolution as a group – but the more I listen to them, the more enthralled I am by what they produce: this melodic dissonance that I simply can’t get enough of.

Knife Party – Save the World

Knife Party – Internet Friends

The Audiofiles: Required Listening for HARD’s Day of the Dead

Halloween is a magical time of year for most people but once you’ve been to Santa Barbara to celebrate the holiday Gaucho style, there’s really no turning back. Instead of just one day of tricks, treats and costumes you can spend the better half of the month in costume.  Now that I’m a little older and a tad more mature, I don’t feel the need to party the way I did for it in college.  I still have a hard time saying no to fun, but I’d like to think that I pick and choose my battles a little more wisely at this point.

Like I always rave about LA, there are so many – almost too many options when it comes to getting down with your bad self.  I tend to be swayed by the social factors – like which of my friends will be there and who would be down for group costumes; but it also comes down to taste in music, how far you’re willing to travel and preferred venue – house party, festival or club. And since I’ve moved to LA, I’ve basically covered all of the bases.  My first year, I went to Monster Massive, Hard Haunted and spent the week in Santa Barbara; in 2009, I stayed in to study for the GRE and hang out with my kitties; in 2010 I went to Avalon for Dirty South and last year it was a combination of a great house party in Newport thrown by close friends and seeing Nero slay it at the Music Box. And finally  this year I’m going back to my festival roots and hitting up HARD Presents Day of the Dead.

I have somewhat of a lovehate relationship with festivals – they’re crowded, the lines are terrible, lots of pushing and sound systems failing, the beer cups are small,  the drinking area is in an undesirable location and lets not even get started on the bathroom situation.  But then, there’s this glorious flip side: magical experiences with new friends and old, ridiculous people watching, amazing costumes, incredible performances, surprise guests and celebrity sightings. Over the past few years I’ve been known to say the phrase “Never, ever again…” while leaving but I just keep coming back for more.  I went to HARD summer and had a fabulous time so I figured why not give it another whirl – the Metro is free to ride and runs until 3am, perfect for us nocturnal kittens who thrive on the freaks coming out at night.

To better prepare myself for next Saturday’s mayhem, I’ve made a little playlist of the artists I want to see next weekend. Let the countdown to Day of the Dead begin!

Tracklist

  1. Knife Party – Internet Friends
  2. Justice – Genesis
  3. Zeds Dead ft Omar Linx – You and I
  4. Major Lazer ft The Partysquad – Original Don
  5. Blue Foundation – Eyes on Fire (Zeds Dead Remix)
  6. John Dahlback ft Erik Hassle – One Last Ride (Tommy Trash Remix)
  7. Tiesto vs Diplo – C’mon
  8. Jack Beats ft John B – All Night
  9. Dillon Francis & Kill the Noise – Dill the Noise
  10. Massive Attack – Paradise Circus (Zeds Dead Remix)
  11. Moguai & Tommy Trash – In N’Out (Tommy Trash Remix)
  12. Jack Beats – Get Down
  13. Bo Saris – She’s On Fire (Maya Jane Coles Remix)
  14. Chris Isaak – Wicked Games (Soul Clap Remix)
  15. Clockwork – Airflow
  16. Diplo ft Lazrdisk Party Sex – Set It Off
  17. Dillon Francis – I.D.G.A.F.O.S.
  18. Zedd – Stars Come Out (Dillon Francis Remix)
  19. MGMT – Electric Feel (Justice Remix)
  20. Knife Party – Centipede
  21. Major Lazer ft Nina Sky – Keep It Going Louder
  22. Florence + The Machine – Spectrum (Maya Jane Coles Remix)
  23. Felix Cartal – Love (Clockwork Remix)
  24. Knife Party – Rage Valley