See also: Our cover story on Skrillex
Skrillex, Major Lazer, Caspa, Goose and others
HARD Haunted Mansion
Shrine Expo Hall
Better than... watching Skrillex on YouTube.
This year's Hard Haunted Mansion -- the two-day electronic music extravaganza at the Shrine Expo Hall -- belonged to Skrillex. Whether or not you're a fan of the 23-year-old DJ and producer, who was recently featured in an LA Weekly cover story, this fact was undeniable.
Amidst the sea of costumed party-goers, there was at least one young man dressed as Skrillex, complete with the side-shave, glasses and plaid shirt. Surely there were some women dressed like him too (you've seen our Top Five Girls Who Look Like Skrillex, right?) but several ladies at least sported Skrillex t-shirts, at least a few of which looked homemade. And when veteran DJ Destructo (aka Hard founder Gary Richards) asked if the crowd if they were ready for Skrillex nearly two hours before he the stage, the screams were almost ear-piercing.
A number of performers played the outdoor Hard stage earlier in the evening. Belgian electronic band Goose was able to draw a sizable crowd at 7:20 p.m., a time when many attendees were still walking from distant parking lots or taking off their shoes in the search line. Considering that this was, the group said, only their second performance in the U.S. (odd, considering they've been around for years), they came out as one of the big winners of the night.
The crowd was much thinner in front of the indoor "Harder" stage, though British dubstep producer Caspa was able to get the crowd pumped once he started dropping the half-time rhythm. Everyone loves dubstep, at least that's how it seems at Hard, but few can dance to it comfortably. Those who try look confused. Do you attempt to hit every beat in the meter, or do you simply aim for the occasional snare? I don't have an answer. Every time I tried to dance to Caspa's set, I looked like I was dusting off cobwebs on a goth club dance floor.
Poor Paul Chambers had the unfortunate honor of going head-to-head with Skrillex. The auditorium almost completely cleared when Skrillex played, leaving Chambers with a very small crowd crammed in front of his stage. This was a shame because Chambers can really move the room playing techno with a '90s acid flavor.
Meanwhile, the outdoor portion of the event had grown uncomfortably packed. Skrillex performed without the Cell and many of the images that have become associated with his current tour.
There were cogs and grids floating above Skrillex as lasers darted out across the audience. A large amount of people had gathered on each floor of the adjacent parking garage to see the spectacle. The crowd inside danced to everything. After hinting at his runaway hit "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites," Skrillex finally dropped most of the track later in his set. The crowd sang along to the vocals that appear at the end. They sang louder when he played his remix of Benny Benassi's track, "Cinema." It was as though much of this crowd came for no one other than Skrillex.
Though the crowd remained heavy, it was filled mostly with people trying to move back and forth between stages. At one point, the line to get inside was so long, I thought I might not catch any of L.A. dubstep king 12th Planet's set. In fact, I was only able to catch the last five minutes.
Major Lazer review below.
Major Lazer followed Skrillex outside. It wasn't until the duo of Diplo and Switch dropped their own hit, "Pon de Floor," that they were able to reignite the frenzy created during Skrillex's set. Much of the set focused on brief clips of party jams-- tracks like Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction" and Zombie Nation's "Kernkraft 400"-- and it worked. Up in front of the stage, the crowd was sweaty and pressed tightly together.
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The crowd began to filter out of the party when headliners Soulwax and Skream & Benga played. I can't blame them, it may have only been 1 a.m., but it felt like a long night had already past even if both groups were playing solid sets.
The Crowd: Characters from Naruto, The Power Rangers, Reno 911, Pokemon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and most major DC and Marvel comics mixed with the usual neon-tutu and lace underwear rave crowd.
Personal Bias: I was stuck in line when The Japanese Popstars played and I'm still upset about that. Anybody have a YouTube clip?
Random Notebook Dump: Getting into Hard is a lot like going to the airport. Even our shoes were searched.