Lots of people enjoyed themselves at Hard's Day of the Dead concert, held at Los Angeles State Historic Park on November 3, and featuring Justice, Diplo and others. Our reviewer certainly did, even giving “kudos to the promoters for reorganizing the layout” to accommodate some 35,000 people, about 10,000 more than last year. And organizers subsequently called it the “most successful” event yet for Hard, a five-year-old L.A.-based organization known for EDM parties that was purchased by Live Nation in June.
But many complaints have since been levied at the party's organizers. One girl called it “the scariest experience” she's ever endured. Other concertgoers described being “cramped in a panicked, angry mob with riot police staring us down” “for two plus hours, not able to get in or out,” with people “passing out” around them. Furious attendees have inundated Hard's Facebook page with horror stories, admonishments, and complaints alleging they weren't able to catch the artists they paid to see. Some have demanded refunds for tickets, which ran from $85 to $135.
Hard founder and organizer Gary Richards has not directly responded to questions about the conditions at the concert, although afterward Richards (who performs as DJ Destructo and who has promoted electronic events for more than 20 years) posted an apology on the Hard Presents Facebook page:
For those of our guests that experienced a longer wait than anticipated to gain entry to HARD Day Of The Dead we would like to apologize.
Its very unfortunate that a select few people decided to remove the bike rack barricades we had in place to keep lines in order and throw them around, greatly disrupting the flow of entry.
Due to this we had to reset everything and create a further delay.
We've already begun the process on how to improve entry to the event.
Gary Richards and the HARD team
There are plenty of festival-goers who are not satisfied with this mea culpa, however. A Long Beach attendee named James Dolan wrote to the Weekly about his experience:
Upon entering the Hard Day of the Dead grounds, I was greeted with a mob of at least a thousand people who had no idea how things were being run. Not a line, a mob. We waited in this mob for over an hour and 45 minutes with no security, no way out, no restrooms, no clue as to how people were being let in, and no assurance we'd even make it inside. Eventually we learned, as relayed to us from people sitting on the shoulders of others, that the mob was cut off before the entrance and security was letting in small groups of people as they saw fit. As each wave was let in, people rushed forward, crushing dozens against the metal barriers. This situation was allowed to go on for far too long and became dangerous for everyone.
Meanwhile, Richards' apology has racked up over 600 Facebook responses, many of them irate:
Dude my friend was handicapped and we were forced to help him over all of the fences we had to jump… Pretty ridiculous.
I was on crutches and had a barricade dropped on my bad leg, was truly ridiculous how you guys had this organized.
You guys fuckjng suck no organization at all my girlfriend got so closterfobic in your line to get in that she passed out and we couldn't go in.
WE WANT REFUNDS!!!!!!
No excuse. You should have been prepared for the mass of people. Your security was a joke and I was sincerely afraid for my safety waiting in that mob. I witnessed a fight break out right next to me and many people could have been seriously injured. Although I had an amazing time once we got in, this will definitely be my first and LAST Hard event.
please communicate with the people waiting. i was in a crowd (i am very short and couldn't see anything over anybody and feeling very unsafe) and the swat team came running through, breaking my grip from my friends hand. the crowd started rushing through after the swat team knocking everyone else out of their way. meanwhile everyone around is screaming, “whats going on?””let us in” creating an unruly crowd. pleople then started pushing, making my friend, who has never been to an event like this, very uncomfortable.
I literally, as a small female, was fearing for my life. I thought I was going to get trampled. I shouldn't have the feel like that. Never again.
Forget that you made people miss their favorite djs. You put thousands of people at risk, even saw a fight break out on top of people puking all the while being shoulder to shoulder with dozens of others. Not chill Gary.
We reached out to Richards through his publicist, who forwarded us a statement just like the one posted to Facebook, though it acknowledged a “delayed flow of entry which spanned about an hour and a half.” It reiterated that the event was their “most successful” yet.