Hard Day of The Dead
5:30 PM: I'm driving through downtown Los Angeles scavenging for a parking spot. The doors at Day of the Dead don't open until 6 so I'm under the impression that arriving early will save me from shelling out 20 bucks to stash my car and/or save my shoes from extra blocks of traction from having to walk miles to the festival site. No such luck.
See also: Our slideshow of the festival
6:20PM: After nearly taking out three kids in neon tutus and face paint, I managed to squeeze my Prius into a not so legit parking space. I buzz through security, playing up the media card to avoid the massive line and was finally inside on the grounds thinking, “I'm so going to end up with a parking ticket.” (Editor's note: One attendee tells the Weekly of a massive clusterfuck in the line, with a crush of people and folks jumping fences.)
6:25PM: I catch a bit of the festival openers, Clockwork and UZ — about whom everyone seemed to be buzzing last night. The crowd is starting to file in and hence the people watching begins.
7:00PM: After standing in a massive line, I sit down with a veggie burger from the Green Truck and watch the costume-clad HARDers file in one by one. It's your typical crowd of furry boots, illuminated bodies, and skimpy outfits but everyone had a Halloween twist, including painted faces, although many only have half their faces painted as they were warned that in order to pass the ID check, they would in fact have to look like their ID. Also: artificial blood, and skull themed accessories. Others have recycled last weekend's party costumes and come as nerds, scrawny Hugh Hefners, unicorns, and dinosaurs.
7:25PM: Make my way to The Hard Stage to watch the always-impressive Araabmuzik. He destroys his 2500 limited edition MPCs on stage. I overhear a guy next to me tell his friend, “He does all that on the fly bro,” which is followed by a “Holy F*ck!”
8:30PM: I survive a massive bathroom line. Fortunately I'm able to hear Jack Beats while waiting, and am entertained in line by a drunken dude in a sailor costume who dances for all the porta potty dwellers. I catch a little of Tittsworth (I'll admit I didn't know much going into the set but was intrigued by the stage name). Zeds Dead takes over the Hard Stage and I split my time between their hip hop meets dubstep beats and see Foreign Beggars rap in their British accents and skull faces in the Earstorm tent. I follow up the hour in the Red Bull Music Discotheque watching Mr. Hard himself, aka DJ Destructo keeping it classy in a suit and tie (and extreme Day of The Dead face paint).
10PM: The next few hours are a blur. I run like a maniac from stage to stage, greedily wanting to see bits of every act to follow. I give Major Lazer one song before popping over to the Earstorm stage for a good half hour of Kill The Noise, who goes through the tracks off his new EP that drops on OWSLA (Skrillex's label) on Tuesday.
Sonny himself is spotted side stage, cheering him along. I miss Nadastrom (couldn't do it all!) but manage to see Maya Jane Coles for a mere three minutes. Knife Party sucked me in for almost their entire set; I find myself in a dubstep mood and it's too good to walk away. Then I'm off to Dillon Francis, who was the favorite at HardSummer. I don't recognize his new platinum blonde “do” but am grateful that I made the connection because he drops some ridiculous beats and I work off my sweet potato fries in his audience.
1AM: Justice brings an entirely different vibe to their live set. It isn't a typical dancing crowd but more of a mix of “romantic and aggressive” tunes, which is exactly what Justice's Gaspard Augé calls them, apparently, according to the “diehard fan” who stands next to me. I catch a few Tommy Trash tunes before joining the other 34,999 HARD attendees to ring in the night with Diplo on the Moombahton Massive stage.
1:55AM: The walk back to the car is long but I'm grateful to find my car littered with festival flyers and not parking tickets. Score on snagging that loading zone spot, even if was 10 blocks away!
Personal bias: I was pretty proud of myself for surviving from 5:30pm till 2 in the morning with absolutely no caffeine or Red Bull. Maybe I still got it!
The crowd: A Halloween party meets the trendiest of ravers
Random notebook dump: This year's Hard Day of The Dead fit 35,000 people, as opposed to last year's 25,000 at Haunted Mansion. I was worried this would mean 10,000 more crazy people to navigate through, however, kudos to the promoters for reorganizing the layout. Things were a lot more spread out and it almost seemed emptier than last year.
See also: Our slideshow of the festival