All photos by Timothy Norris

The buzz preceding the HARD Haunted Mansion party on Halloween night was that the surprise special guest was Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk. I was skeptical, but HARD’s sold-out event had grown from a very impressive dance show to a huge mega-dance fest in the past month with the addition of Justice and 2 Many DJ’s to the line up. Daft Punk however, could take the show to legendary heights.

Then, around 11 p.m., a man donning a Daft Punk helmet and leather jacket stepped onto the elevated Shrine Auditorium Expo stage. The excited and surprised crowd pushed to the front in disbelief. After 30 minutes of rocking the costumed hipsters and high schoolers, the man took off his own “costume,” revealing that the Daft Punker was in fact DJ AM. Snap, no Daft Punk, but it was great to see DJ AM performing alive and healthy after his plane crash.

The rest of HARD was close to perfect. The dense line-up included new dance legends like Simian Mobile Disco and Boys Noize. Surprisingly, there were only a few time conflicts. The biggest being Crystal Castles and Soulwax’s sets both starting at midnight, with Crookers following at 12:35. I caught a glimpse of the infamous Soulwax before sneaking off to see Crystal Castles, which is quickly becoming the best live ‘band’ of this current dance music revolution. Ethan Katz shows strokes of genius as their producer/keyboardist, fellow producer Parallels on drums adds a strong rhythmic dimension to their live show, and their shrieking, doll-eyed front woman Alice Glass is a crowd favorite.

But at 12:35AM it was necessary to return to the Expo stage to witness the Italian DJ duo Crookers’ return to Los Angeles. Best known for their remix of Kid Cudi’s “Day N Night,” Crookers are the epitome of crowd control, with every bass drop causing a sea of uncontrollable arm flailing and head nodding.

There was a mass exodus to the outdoor stage to see the headliner Justice, who I think are wearing out their welcome. They’re great, but they do every single festival. I thought they were from France, but they seem to be in LA every week. Following Justice was actual “special guest,” old friend and ex-Daft Punk manager Busy P, which would have been more exciting if expectations weren’t so lofty. – Keyvon Pierre

LA Weekly