This past weekend was the latest incarnation of Gary Richards' Hard Summer, an EDM festival held in a new venue this year, Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, while L.A. State Historic Park undergoes renovation.
The event is as popular as ever; a bunch of people snuck in on Saturday, and on Sunday security was ramped up considerably. Getting there was no picnic, as traffic was bad. For us, what should have been a 30-40 minute drive turned into almost 2 hours. The lines were long and the mobs around the stages seemed practically impassable for those trying to refill water or hit the bathroom. (This just in: There was also a death.)
Still, there were some great moments. Here are our bests and worsts from the marathon weekend.
Best: Whittier Narrows is about three times as large as L.A. State Historic Park, and still has a lot to offer in terms of scenery, with plenty of trees for shade, and grass. Also, the beer gardens were conveniently located, with a great view of the stages.
Worst: We loved L.A. Historic Park because the view of downtown was incredible, and it was close to downtown. This new spot was a ways out. Also, as is always the case with SoCal festivals, dirt got kicked up into dust throughout the day, leaving everyone covered in a thin layer of grime. And, unsurprisingly, cell service was spotty at best, nonexistent at worst.
As one festival-goer put it: “Day one was for people who just wanted to go out on a Saturday night. Day two was for people who really love the music.”
Best: The homemade costumes this year were more intricate than at Hard Summers past, and everyone we asked about their work was more than willing to share construction details. We also saw plenty of good-natured concertgoers who were willing to help out fellow music lovers. One guy, seeing another guy who was under the weather, ran over from the other side of a stage to offer water and Tums.
Worst: Sky-high platform boots. How are you supposed to dance?
Best: Musically, Hard did not disappoint. With headliners like Axwell, Jack U (Skrillex and Diplo's new collab project), Disclosure, and Tiesto, the lineup offered a variety of electronic music, from house to trap to dubstep, drum 'n' bass, and more. There really was something for everyone, which meant the only really difficult part was coordinating with friends what your group was going to see next?
The Chainsmokers confirmed that they can throw down, with a set full of epic remixes topped with a version of their big hit, "#selfie." Disclosure also brought the heat; they're a perfect mix between electronic and live music, as one fan put it. Mary J. Blige even did a guest performance.
Worst: Tommy Trash's set got cut short—way short—to only 15 minutes when he got stuck at the airport on his way in on Saturday. The good news is, it was some of the best 15 minutes of the weekend.
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Finally, the best quote of the night: Mark, a guy visiting all the way from Ireland, imparted that Tiesto's set “blew my mind out of my brain."