[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: 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

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.
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