Hard Summer moved to a new location, just outside of LA proper, El Monte. The new location, Whittier Narrows Recreation Park, is about 3 times the size of the old location. A massive change in location sounds like a daunting task to fill. While losing the iconic LA skyline backdrop of one of the last LA festivals was sad to see, Gary Richards (Hard CEO and Producer Destructo) pulled out all of the lights, rides, and incredible sound to make this the best HARD yet!
In years past, the festival felt outgrown for its space: the stages ran into walkways, food stalls, and beer gardens, leaving little room to take a breather from the percussive beats. This larger new venue, with a walk time of about 15-20 minutes from the purple tent to the Hard Stage (the two farthest stages), lead for an impressive array of different food stalls, carnival rides, free water stations, and many shaded areas to sit and enjoy the festival.
The food purveyors had every type of cuisine similar to the hodgepodge of LA: Pad Thai, pizza, tacos, etc. These food stalls were not relegated to one location, but were found all over the festival site. A few quick dance moves away from your current location could have you grabbing favorite refreshments to keep the party going.
The beer gardens were set up in the most convenient locations. Taking up one side of the Hard stage, the HARDer stage and the Green Tent allowed for easy drinking while catching your favorite artist. The newly designed space also allowed for the addition of three huge tents. Festival attendees revealed in theses tents to hide from the stifling Sunday heat and downpour of refreshing rain on Saturday evening.
Transportation never seemed to be an issue at the past location, but with the move out of direct public transportation routes, travel seemed daunting. Fear not festival friends, HARD came through. The metro line and the shuttle system back to our hotel in DTLA took roughly an hour. Quite the breeze when considering the horrible shuttle systems at other music festivals. Hint for future festival attendees: Make sure your uber driver their has a fast track pass. Jump on the 10 freeway and you will be inside the festival in about 40 mins from pickup.
Let’s talk about the crowd. LA has always been considered rough around the edges when it comes to its music festivals. HARD summer saw a few arrests and citations for underage drinking, gate crashers, and small number of drug related events. But all in all, LA proved once again it can hold its own with a fantastic crowd of friendly dancing people. Even in the rain during the closing acts of Saturday, the crowd kept wide smiles on their faces.
What I love about HARD presents is its devotion to curating the most diverse and talented musical lineups. More than a few groups of festival attendees danced throughout the days and nights with T-shirts emblazoned with “TRUST IN GARY.” I completely agree with this mantra; Gary Richards is the King when it comes to curating an EDM based festival. He has yet to disappoint.
Hard Summer 2014 ran the gamut with headline acts such as Axwell, DJ Snake, Tiesto, Disclosure and Jack U (the explosive side project of super producers Skrillex and Diplo). The lower bill at Hard always holds some of the best talent: acts such as Rudimental, Goldroom, Griz, What So Not and Shiba Sun lead trap enthusiasts, deep house aficionados, tropical house wizards, and even your brostep fratstars to rally their respective festival companions from stage to stage to catch a cornucopia of genres.
Saturday started in the Purple tent listening to up and comers What So Not. The powerhouse of Aussie producers Flume and Emoh Instead. What So Not tours and plays as just Emoh while Flume tours under his own solo project. The tent was hot, sweaty, and dusty–the perfect vibe to get down to the eclectic mix of this production duo. Dropping everything from Kanye to Flume’s remix of “Tennis Court” by Lorde had the crowd going hard early in the day. The set crescendoed to their festival jam, “Jaguar,” and the Branchez remix of “How High You Are”.
After the heat of the day Saturday, the rain clouds rolled and started to release a steady stream of rain to settle the dust. DJ Snake pounded through his trap and hip-hop infused set at the HARDer stage with rain falling all around. He dropped crowd favorites, “Turn Down for What,” and his new single with Dillon Francis, “Get Low”.
Moving over to the Hard Stage for the final set of the night came Jack U. This relatively new act had only a few released tracks to hold such a high billing and massive crowd, which seemed to confuse a few attendees. Until they understood that Jack U is Skrillex and Diplo. With a set comprised of heavy hitters out of both DJ’s pockets, and new Jack U ID’S, the crowd went absolutely nuts. The rain continued to fall as the their last song blared out over the speakers and the first night of HARD Summer ended.
Sunday started with UK favorite live act Rudimental on the Hard Stage. Hotter than Saturday by at least ten degrees with no cloud cover, the group blasted through their hard yet euphoric drum and bass sounds. Stand out tracks were “Free” and “Feel the Love”.
After a hike over the to the Green Tent, Shiba Sun, a new French producer with releases on Dirtybird, blew the crowd away. Dust masks were definitely needed inside the tent, but his deep heavy bass lines and crowd pleaser “Okay” had the crowd dancing with reckless abandon.
Back at the HARD stage LA native Dillon Francis played to the biggest crowd of the festival, upwards of 30,000! Behind the decks of his set up known affectionately as “The Gary,” Dillon dropped hit after hit. He played many tracks of of his brand new album “Money Sucks, Friends Rule” and ended his set with a crowd favorite, T. Pains’ “Buy You a Drank.”
Sunday ended with catching half sets of two very different artists. Maya Jane Coles, the deep house legend and only female headliner, had the Pink Tent dancing to her minimalist deep cuts. While over on the HARDer stage, HARD veterans Nero unleashed their onslaught of heavy dubstep and drum and bass onto the welcoming crowd. With old favorites such as “Plan B’s the Recluse” (Nero Remix), “Me and You,” and “Promises” pleased the crowd. The real treat was hearing new tracks off the upcoming album, include standout track “Satisfy” and numerous ID’s.
HARD Summer 2014 was a triumph in all forms: music selection, venue, transportation, sound and visual production. Props to Gary Richards and the Hard team for such a successful event. LA goes HARD.
Gary Richards (aka Destructo) Founder of HARD Summer & Holy Ship