Los Angeles State Historic Park
Better than... A night without dance jams.
Earlier this week, Forbes Magazine published a list of top 10 highest paid DJ/producers on the party scene. HARD Summer headliner and former L.A. Weekly cover star, Skrillex came in at number two, earning $15 million this past year. That places him behind Tiësto, but ahead of Swedish House Mafia, Deadmau5, David Guetta and the other usual suspects. The Forbes article was a big topic of online discussion, following such other hot button dance world topics as Deadmau5's quip about "EDM world button pushers" and gripes that the biggest (and best paid) DJs are all playing the same songs. There's a sharp, growing divide in the world of dance music, and that was on display Saturday night at HARD Summer.
EDM, a catch-all phrase for the current explosion of dance music, is still a fairly limiting term. Say EDM and it will automatically conjure up images of Skrillex playing at a festival in front of thousands of screaming fans. You might think of the now infamous images of girls dressed in tutus and pasties and dudes who take their fashion cues from Pauly D. That was all happening at HARD last night, but there was more to the festival than that. In fact, there's more to dance music than that.
The biggest strength of HARD Summer was a bill that drew from various corners of the dance music world. Sure, the biggest crowds turned up for the marquee festival names. Nero, the U.K. group behind so many mega-party anthems like "Promises" and "Crush on You," brought out their full live show. Zedd packed the OWSLA stage with his "Legend of Zelda" remix and other favorites for the young party set. Meanwhile, L.A.'s own 12th Planet and Datsik drew the massive dubstep crowd to the Harder Stage. Still, there was something for people who prefer not-quite-outdated styles like house and techno, as well as those looking for something a little more out of the ordinary.
We got through the security check with enough time to catch some of Squarepusher's set. The venerable electronic music experimentalist put on a show fit for a headliner, despite playing at a relatively early 8:30 time slot. Wearing a welder-style mask that sparkled with LEDs, his bass-heavy (as in, he was actually playing a bass) set was a truly magical moment. At a neighboring stage, local favorite Gaslamp Killer mixed and mashed genres for set filled with surprises, like The Stooges, "I Wanna Be Your Dog."