Hard produces electronic and dance music festivals year round, and this past weekend it put on one of its most popular fests: the two day, four stage Hard Summer at Los Angeles’s State Historic Park featured amazing performances by Skrillex, Nero, Bloc Party, Little Dragon and many others. Being an 18 and up music festival, Hard Summer didn’t need to subscribe to LA curfew laws, allowing the festival to run to 2 a.m. both days, unlike similar fests that have to wrap up by 10 p.m.
This led to what is probably the most impressive part of Hard’s event coordination, arranging LA Metro’s train hours to be extended until around 3 a.m. only a month after Metro had permanently extended the trains to 2 a.m. for the first time in Los Angeles’s history. Even more astounding was that Metro increased staff for trains the days of the festival and had employees who would direct festival goers on what trains to take, directions, and general assistance. Many daily commuters were shocked to see girls in tutus, boys in bear costumes, and many a glowing bra on the subway when riding home from work Friday.
The largest spectacle of the festival was the elaborate costumes that many of the fest goers wore. It was obvious that people spent hours crafting their outfits at home and coordinating with friends. Like Halloween there were popular/overdone motifs, like the groups dressed as superhero characters from summer blockbusters or the people who wore glasses that didn’t need them and crazy glued or sewed neon colors to everything they owned. Lots of fans painted their favorite band or DJ’s names to their bodies instead of going the traditional route and just wearing a t-shirt. One girl had done her nails to say “HARD.”
Although most of the acts performed electronic dance music or were DJs, one of the weekend’s most popular acts was Bloc Party, who even cracked a couple jokes about not being “some banging techno” as front man Kele Okereke categorized his band. Okereke also encouraged the audience to cheer by making puns with the word “Hard,” such as, “How hard do you want it?”
While Miike Snow and Little Dragon, two other borderline rock bands at the festival, killed their Friday sets, Starship Connection, a synth-funk band, bombed. The band already had a disadvantage playing at 6 p.m. on Saturday, only the second act of the day on the Red Bull stage. Starship was obviously trying to win over the audience with their multiple keyboard setup and high energy, but came off as trying too hard and didn’t really look organized in how it presented itself.
While Starship Connection was in the midst of failing on their stage Simms and Belle, Mark Foster and Isom Innis of Foster The People’s DJ persona, were killing at the Hard stage. Them, Dillon Francis, Alvin Risk, and Gaslamp Killer had the best DJ sets for the day Saturday, which is saying a lot considering James Murphy had the headlining DJ set at the Red Bull stage. Francis already had the audience, being a local boy, and he tapped into that energy quickly. Risk’s set featured a guest appearance by Letlive front man Jason Aalon Butler who served as a hype-man and crowd-surfed in the audience multiple times. Gaslamp Killer impressed everyone with his hair whipping and the bold move of starting his set out by remixing Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of the national anthem.
Like most fests there were hiccups—the sound cut out during Nero’s set causing the band to finish early, a girl on some mind altering substance jumped into the photo pit and tried to simultaneously make out with and run away from multiple security guards during Boys Noize’s set, and although the state park plays host to festivals year round, still no one has figured out an answer to the dust problem that plagues attendees. Overall though the festival was an epic two days of dancing, glow sticks, and bit processors.