Photos & Notes: HARD Summer 2013 @ LA State Historic Park, August 3 & 4
Waiting in line for day one of HARD Summer music festival on Saturday, August 3, at LA State Historic Park, everyone was comparing notes on topics like how the hell to meet up with your friends in a 35,000-person outdoor venue with 4 spread out stages and almost zero cell service, and what acts they were most looking forward to seeing that day. The answer to the first question was: good luck. And the unanimous answer to the second question was: Disclosure.
Early performers on a very hot Saturday included Thee Mike B, Keys N Krates, and XXYYXX. A departure from the trap, house, and EDM acts most characteristic of the fest was 2 Chainz, who was on the main HARD Stage in the early evening. Cue his crunk southern hip-hop song “I’m Different.” Sporting two big gold chains as you might expect, the rapper yelled to the crowd: “Who got their own weed? Who got their own dranks? Who got their own bitches?” Judging by crowd response, I’d say everyone had their own, and they merrily bounced along to 2 Chainz’ “Own Drugs.”
Next up, the highly anticipated Disclosure performed at the Underground Stage, which was the only stage shaded from the hot sun, under a giant tent. These two young brothers from the UK have generated a huge amount buzz with their new album Settle, a feast of garage, soulful, inspired house tracks. Fans packed the tent to capacity and spilled out crowding the outside, too, to see the Lawrence bros perform. Bless them, they even played actual instruments on some of the tunes, with Guy on drums, and Howard on bass. It was an absolute sauna by the time they closed their set with their song of the summer “Latch.”
After the sun went down, Flux Pavillion took over the HARD Stage with his dubstep hits like “I Can’t Stop” and “Cracks.” Then a giant inflatable duck appeared on stage with the insignia DS, and a bunch of people in the crowd sported duckbill masks. Time for A-Trak and Armand Van Helden’s DJ duo Duck Sauce. These two looked like they were having a blast on stage, and even invited a dozen girls to come up to join the party and dance around in front of the big duck.
LA’s own Flying Lotus closed the night on the HARDer Stage, with his experimental sounds and his mesmerizing screen projections seeming to surround him. He came out from behind his screen to rap a few songs as well. Back on the main HARD Stage, Knife Party was finishing off the night with lasers blasting out over a still energized, relentlessly fist pumping, jumping crowd. Just checked Knife Party’s Facebook bio and all it says is “Seizure music.”
Day two felt even more packed and frenzied, with trap acts like LA’s gLAdiator and faves Flosstradamus making the crowd twerk and headbang. On the screens on either side of the stage for Flosstradamus, the cameras focused on some girl’s nearly bare twerking buns and I almost blushed. Some more girlies in leopard, lace, and otherwise minimal dress bopped around the sidelines of the crowd singing along to “Face down, ass up, that’s the way we like to f—.” Well done, Flosstradamus.
A wild feminine spirit was definitely present Sunday, and Crystal Castles took the crown with their performance on the HARD Stage. Alice Glass was possessed and electric, falling backwards over the drum riser at one point, standing back up on the bass drum and bashing the cymbals with her fists, dragging around mic stands on the stage, throwing microphones down, and finally throwing herself into the crowd. She would intermittently wander over to the side stage to take swigs of Ketel One straight out of the bottle and grab a cig.
(The only female missing from the event was Azealia Banks, who has had to cancel a slew of appearances due to a throat infection.)
Far on the other end of the venue, the Summer Stage was taken over on Sunday by the Ed Banger crew from France, who were celebrating the 10th anniversary of their record label, run by Busy P. Breakbot performed a groovy live set, looking heavenly with his Jesus hair and his all white suit. Brodinski was total Mr. Cool with his backwards Bromance hat, dark sunnies, and cig dangling from his lips. Gary Richards (creator of HARD) presented Busy P with a huge 10-year birthday cake, at exactly 10:10PM during his “Ed Banger Mega Mix” set on the stage. And all the Ed Banger bros — Justice, Busy P, and Breakbot, posed for some pics. Then Justice performed a DJ set to wrap up the party. (Wah-wahhh, we wanted to see Justice LIVE.)
Empire of the Sun brought out psychedelic Cirque-de-Soleil-meets-Blue-Man-Group style dancers and owned the HARD stage with their outerspace, bright, pop style. Their latest single “Alive” is absolutely cosmic and anthemic. Zedd and Bassnectar closed the festival with huge beats and giant LED screen visuals.
HARD Summer 2013. Over and out.
Bonus! We all get a second chance to see Disclosure in a less packed venue. They just booked 2 shows at the Fonda Theatre, October 17 and 18. Tickets on sale this Friday at 10am.