HARD Summer 2012, LA State Historic Park, August 3 & 4


HARD is the perfect name for a bass-heavy electronic music festival if EDM is what, you know, turns you on. Pitches your tent. Raises your sail. Get’s you…

HARD Summer spanned two days, August 3 and 4, at the Los Angeles State Historic Park, rocking a behemoth of a lineup across 4 stages.

Day one featured sets by Swedish dance pop band Little Dragon, rapper Action Bronson, dirty-mouthed Danny Brown, indie band Miike Snow, and dubstep group Magnetic Man, among others. Highlights were British rockers Bloc Party performing “Mercury” with a set of concentric, multi-colored circles glowing gigantic behind them, and later, Akai posterboy Araabmuzik creating a precise set of beats and samples on a series of MPCs in the Fool’s Gold Clubhouse.

The night really gathered steam on the Harder Stage when the UK’s Fake Blood DJ’ed a solid set, building and building, interspersed with a dark voice saying “Fake Blood.” I overheard someone in the crowd say, “This is gonna be the best set of the night.” Clearly there were super fans. One guy in a Fake Blood t-shirt standing up front literally had fake blood coming out of his nose, on his forehead, and streaming down his arms.

The rest of the Hard-goers were making fashion statements, too, with their outfits–or lack of outfits, dressing as scantily clad as possible. Many girls were just in their underwear, maybe adding some fishnets and neon tutus here and there. Those furry boot covers still seem to be in style (and probably came in handy as the temperatures dipped later in the night). The guys in the crowd were tanktopped and bro’ed out, hiding behind neon-framed wayfarers well after dark.

Over in the Discotheque Tent, everybody was shuffling to some of the most amazing, danceable sets I’ve heard in a long time. All weekend long, this tent had the most feelgood sets that were worthy of the name Discotheque. On night one, Breakbot led into a DJ set from Chromeo, inspiring some fancy footwork. The night was capped by original Funkateer, Bootsy Collins and his Funk Unity Band. On night two, James Murphy closed out the tent with a killer, danceworthy set that had everyone torn between watching Skrillex’s headlining main stage set or staying in the Discotheque. Also, you gotta give it up for Mr. Murphy – he actually mixed vinyl records. Old school.

Review continues and huge photo gallery below.

Day two seemed to be twice as crowded, and twice as hard and heavy music-wise. An intense set from Squarepusher was banging away at the Hard Stage, while LA’s own Gaslamp Killer was crushing it on the Harder Stage. Gaslamp Killer was bringing more energy than any of the performers, dancing and shaking like he was possessed by every loop and eclectic track he mixed together. He was spazzing out to an 8-bit version of “Ridin’ Dirty” in one moment, and headbanging his curly hair around to “I Am The Walrus” and “The Imperial March” from Star Wars in the next.

Back on the main Hard Stage, the Bloody Beetroots performed a DJ set of relentless buildups and hard hitting drops, sending the crowd into a frenzy. The final song of their set? “Shout!” by the Isley Brothers. The crowd was going nuts.

Nero was next up on the main stage, keeping the crowd at fever pitch until headliner Skrillex performed the closing set of the fest. Now I don’t know if you saw this link floating around, but Forbes just pointed out to the world that Skrillex earned $15 million dollars in a year’s time. Whoa.

And after Saturday night’s set, I see why. Skrillex absolutely lived up to his hype and he put a truckload of energy into this hometown LA set. He performed from what looked like the ultimate boy fantasy Star-Wars-esque fighter spaceship, with pyrotechnics in front and wild visuals on the huge screens behind. He played a bunch of his own chaotic electronic tunes, like “Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites,” from the EP of the same name, and, a bunch of other booty-clapping EDM bangers. The huge stage screens started lighting up with the words “My. Name. Is. Skrillex,” while the speakers blasted the words in sync. He got on the mic and screamed so loud to the crowd that his voice was cracking. “Feels good to be home!”

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