[Doing it Right] HARD Summer 2013

‘It was deep, it was soulful , it was techno, it was disco – a kaleidoscope of sounds.’
A tribal beast of rhythm, a ceremony of sound, the gathering of the spirits that would lift us off the ground,
My vision was so clear, but it was still hazy in my mind;
I must have went to house heaven, because nothing’s that divine.

My Love

This Summer has been one of my busiest and best to date; but between the caliber of friendships that I’ve developed over the past year and the effervescent and ever-evolving music scene in Southern California why would I expect anything less?  This past weekend marked the annual mayhem and debauchery that is Hard Summer – one of the only multi-day EDM festivals left in the city of Los Angeles.  It’s taken a few days to recover, but somehow and somewhere between the laughs, the stories, the ‘did-you-guys-see-that?!’ moments and our tired joints we’ve managed to detox from one hell of a wild ride and revel in its glory.

One of the best things about the way HARD has transformed in the past year is that you could get fresh and funky one minute and dirty and dubstepping the next; with acts like Disclosure, Alex Metric, Oliver and Claude VonStroke‘s DirtyBird crewJ.Phlip and Justin Martin in the ‘Underground’ tent you could take a break from the ear thrashing bass (not that I don’t enjoy a good rage sesh every now and again) and groove to something different.  All in all, we couldn’t have asked for better company, weather, food trucks, people watching and amazing acts to see.

On the flip side my friends and I walked from the event with a few legitimate concerns about the safety of the set-up and layout of certain areas like the location of the food trucks, merchandise tents and the ‘Underground’ stage. The vending areas were in an incredibly central -read: profitable – area and disrupted an otherwise pleasant flow to the grounds. The biggest problem for me was having a tented off stage with closed sides. The Sahara and Gobi tents at Coachella created a similar relaxed, shady atmosphere but the addition of sides on the tent made the crowding unbearable and trampling a definite possibility. I was there for Disclosure and so thankful we escaped – the lack of oxygen was pretty brutal!

HARD works hand in hand with Los Angeles: when you purchase your ticket, you’re granted free access to the Metro systems in the city for the entire weekend.  It makes so many things absolutely easier on all of the festival go-ers – driving, traffic, parking, the possibility of accidents and DUIs; the list is endless and we didn’t have to fret about any of it! Once we hit Union Station, we were a mere hop, skip, jump and a ten minute walk to LA Historic Park.  On the way there was an amazing vendor handing out deliciously flavored, and might I add free, fruit-infused waters to all of us so we could fend off our impending dehydration – thank goodness!

Especially compared to the last few HARD events I’ve gone to (last year’s HARD Summer + Day of the Dead), the lines were so much more manageable this year and we barely had to wait; the addition of metal barricades between the lines was absolutely necessary and completely welcomed.  After a friendly little frisk by the security team, we were on and through to the other side: lights, camera, action – here we go!

I had-had-had to make sure we were inside by the time Keys n Krates hit the stage and rightfully so – I guarantee you one thing, they are part of an EDM revolution with the likes of Modestep, Infected Mushroom and the old Pendulum live sets.  There’s just something so damn magical about live instruments – especially the evolution and pairing of them with modern forms of electronics and technology.  It’s giving me a braingasm just thinking about it!  We bounced around between the stages essentially the entire day, because we have severe forms musical ADD and after Tommy Trash tore the city a new one the main stage never really sounded the same.

Day 2 was a whole horse of a different color when compared to the first day; chalk it up to people on Sunday needing to go to work on Monday (or, conversely, people on Saturday who planned on partying for 36 hours straight) but the vibe was a lot more low key and I heard lots more people interject with a “Sorry!” or an “Excuse me…”.  It was like we all got some unwritten memo about chilling out, and we did.  If the aggression of the first twelve hours dissuaded anyone from coming back to another HARD event I surely hope they let the second day change their minds.  Like usual, I came out of this festival with more friends than I went into it with; but, I’ve been doing one thing differently as of late that I hope everyone employs at festivals sooner or later: turn off your phone.  Not just the mobile network but the entire thing!  Sure, in emergencies whip that shit out and find your passe but while you have one: enjoy the moment and focus on the friends that are next to you instead of concerning yourself with people that aren’t around.   You’ll find your entire experience so much more enjoyable; trust me!

Justin Martin

Miau!

Zedd

For an excellent way to bounce through your day, peruse these fine sets from my favorite acts at Hard Summer; enjoy!

The Audiofiles: One Last Tour with Swedish House Mafia

I know we’re not even halfway into the month, but I have to say – this is some of the loveliest early Spring weather we’ve had in a minute.  Even that little bit of rain last week, that was perfectly timed – the smog was cleared, the city was washed clean for a good few minutes and we got some amazing skylines, sunsets and rainbows to boot!

This past weekend, Swedish House Mafia cruised through Los Angeles and threw two epic nights of EDM whompage at LA’s State Historic Park; now, I wasn’t about to shell out upwards of $150 to see a bunch of acts I’ve already had the pleasure of rocking out to – but I got to send my friends off in style and then hear about it all at the after party.  Literally the next best thing to enjoying a mini-festival like these were is living the night vicariously through your friends.  Based on the stories, pictures and videos – I know they had a phenomenal time…and how could you not?! Besides getting a hat trick of Swedish House, there were stellar sets from the likes of Nero, Mat Zo, Sub Focus, Clockwork, Alesso, Zedd, Monsta and more!  To be fair, if I knew the supporting acts ahead of time – I would have most definitely bought my ticket – but all is fair in love and raving, and there will always be another kickass show with another phenomenal lineup.   That said,  if you happen to be going to either weekend of Ultra, the Masquerade Motel is not to be missed.

And to get you through the day, here are my favorite live sets from the main stage acts at Masquerade Motel; if you missed out, turn the world off, turn up the love and enjoy the ride!

Unless you’ve been able to strategically place yourself under a rock, you should be more than familiar with SHM – who are better known to the EDM world as Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello.  They’ve been busting basslines together since 2007 when they released ‘Get Dumb‘ with Laidback Luke, another favorite house legend, but didn’t officially form their supergroup until 2008.  Their first official single was ‘One’ in instrumentals and with a vocal version featuring Pharrell – both were amazing and catapulted their notoriety. Then came the success of ‘Save the World‘ which was coupled an the adorable, puppy infused video one can’t help but swoon at. As of late, they’ve teamed up with Knife Party (formerly, Pendulum) on the epic club banger ‘Antidote‘ and have been pushing this “One Last Tour’ for the last few months. Now, don’t get it twisted – they’ll still be touring solo and you’ll have a chance to hear them play the hits of SHM, but it sounds like they won’t be touring together for a hot minute.

If it sounds like SHM, walks like SHM but there’s only one of them – chances are you’ve stumbled across their up and coming protege, Alesso. First recognized for his innate remixing ability, the youngster released has released hit after hit on Sebastian Ingrosso’s label, Refune Records.  Alesso is best known for his remix duties on ‘   ‘ by the Starkillers and Alex Kenji with seductive vocals from the Queen of Trance herself, Nadia Ali (formerly the vocalist of Iio), Swedish House Mafia’s ‘Save the World‘ and DEVolution’s ‘Good Love‘ featuring Amy Pearson while his original singles ‘Calling’ and ‘Years’ both reached #1 on Beatport.

Being fresh on the scene isn’t a problem for Zedd.The first time he popped onto the scene was in 2010 after winning Beatport contests for Armand Van Helden’s ‘Witch Doktor’ and the classic Fatboy Slim track, ‘Weapon of Choice.’  He moved to the big leagues in 2011 by putting his mark on Skrillex’s ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’ and Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” In turn, both artists recognized his talents and returned the favor –Skrillex released Zedd’s “Shave It”on his label OWSLA and Lady Gaga has enlisted him to produce her upcoming album, ARTPOP.  His latest singles, ‘Clarity’ and ‘Spectrum’ have both hit the #1 spot on the US Dance Charts and have garnered much support, as well as ample amounts of kickass remixes.

Speaking of ones to watch, Mat Zo is a DJ that you simply shouldn’t take your eyes off of.  Musically inclined since a young age when he first got his hands on an instrument, Mat Zo started off on the famed Hospital Records as a liquid Drum & Bass producer under the pseudonym MRSA; that influence is so easily seen in the effortless fusing of songs, and genres, in each one of his mixes. His hits like ‘The Fractal Universe‘ become instrumental journeys into the heart of trance music, while bumpin’ beats like ‘Bipolar‘ and ‘Stubby’ simply want to make you move your feet. And then, to top it off, he has vocal hits like ‘The Sky‘ with Linnea Shossow that just wow the pants off of you.  If there’s one DJ on this list that’s a must see, I’d say it’s Mat Zo.