Relentless Beats

HARD Summer: A Dusty Weekend of Music

Most people have a specific idea of what a “rave” looks like – tutus, kandi, dancers, glitter and theatrics. Take away all of these elements and what you’ll get is a dusty park in downtown Los Angeles where young people shuffle to back-to-back DJs and bands across four stages.

Over the weekend, HARD Summer took over the Los Angeles Historic State Park in its two-days of heavy bass dance music. The music festival, founded by Destructo, is adamant about separating itself from the “rave” culture. Fans were not allowed to bring in kandi bracelets or any sort of rave attire (spirit hoods and kandi bracelets were seen throughout the festival). Destructo’s vision for the festival focuses strictly on the music. His vision comes to fruition as the lineup represented the best DJs and producers currently topping the charts as well as the up-and-coming DJs who will be taking over 2014.

The weekend was full of neck-and-lower-back-pain causing performances. Here are my picks of this weekend’s best sets:

Henry Steinway aka RL Grime/Clockwork solidified his position as one of the best of 2013. Both of his sets were hard and unrelenting. He did not give fans a break (not that they were asking for one) and mastered both identities flawlessly.

Dillon Francis was as entertaining on the decks as he was on the mic. He entered the stage as DJ Hanzel, who quickly left to “go to the bathroom”. Although Hanzel promised Francis would play the “deepest house”, Francis opted to do what he does best – play beats that cause twerk circles and mountains (no joke, I witnessed a twerk mountain of five people). He took time from his set to express his gratitude to his fans. His serious “thanks” felt sincere and emotional.

Empire of the Sun gave one the most memorable performances of the weekend. The stage production was elaborate and over-the-top. The complete opposite of what HARD had delivered on Saturday and earlier on Sunday. Dancers in headdresses and bright costume, Empire of the Sun left me wanting for more.

HARD Summer was one of the best times I’ve ever had at a music festival. It was easy to navigate, fans were cool and down to earth, the music was bananas and everyone was there for the same reason – to get ratchet.

Check out other sets from HARD Summer 2013:



Nick Thayer:

Flux Pavilion:

Tommy Trash:


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