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September 11, 2023
September 11, 2023
This years HARD Summer, despite the tragic news, was a huge success both musically and in terms of attendance. The Auto Club Speedway was a welcome venue change as it created much more space for the 100,000+ crowd to maneuver their way through each other and to each of the 5 significantly larger stages.
At first glance, for my self personally, there wasn’t any real “I have to see them” type artists, aside from the usual HARD staples, so I went in open to discover the talents of producers I had yet to expose myself to. I was beyond ecstatic to discover that there was much more here at HARD Summer than I had originally anticipated.
With that said, our top 7 acts of the past weekend include artists that are both highly acclaimed and recognized, and some who fall under the radar of some of the more mainstream mindset. Check out the list below! Do you agree?:
7. Sha Sha Kimbo – Smirnoff House
I’d like to attempt attending a festival and sticking strictly to the Smirnoff House. This is truly an incredible addition to the already massive festival and truly houses (no pun intended) some incredible talent. Heading to the branded installment for the secret set at 3:00pm on Sunday, I arrived early. On the decks was LA-based producer Sha Sha Kimbo who has had releases on Mad Decent and other prominent labels.
Personally, I had never heard of her, but what I experienced was something I won’t soon forget. Her set bled funk and she got the crowd rowdy with some odes to classic dance music including “Better Off Alone” by Alice Deejay and a version of “We Like to Party” by the Vengaboys with some serious kicks. Overall, the set was indicative of exactly what the Smirnoff House is for: those classic house party vibes!
6. Malaa – HARDer Stage
We all know what Malaa is about: that dirty house music.
He brought the house to the heat on Saturday afternoon. Playing a set at the hottest point of the day, the sweat never felt more right. Opening the set with the intro to his newest EP Illicit and translating the stern message of house music into a set that followed its own rules, Malaa reminded us that the music is more important than the man on stage.
5. Porter Robinson – HARDer Stage
Every. Single. Time.
Porter Robinson never ceases to amaze. From the visuals to the sound design to the stage setup to the crowd. It is simply astonishing the experience that he has created for his fans. This time around Porter dropped two brand new live edits including the mega-stunner “Fresh Static Snow” which took mine and everyone standing closer than me to the stage’s breath away. As fire shot from the stage in upward of six 100 foot tall pillars, Porter proved once again why he was the most scheduled artist of the festival and why he continues to come back each year time and time again.
4. Slushii – Green Stage
Making his debut for any sort of live show to date, Slushii’s set was full of emotion and surprises. After months of spontaneous track releases and intensive preparation for his massive debut, Julian Scanlan did not disappoint. From beginning to end Slushii’s crowd was mashing, head banging, singing along, and just having a fantastic time. With a library of music full enough to do a set almost entirely of originals, Slushii is on the fast track to super stardom along with Red Light Management cohorts Jauz, Marshmello, and Ghastly.
But the big moment of the set for Scanlan was one that he didn’t even see coming. While playing a bootleg of Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” which would drop into Slushii’s very own “Take My Hand,” Skrillex himself ran on stage to join Slushii, shouting to the crowd: “Let’s give it up for the future right here!”
3. Kayzo – Purple Stage
We all remember that time that Kayzo absolutely decimated Monarch Theatre, right? Well, take that performance and multiply it by about 10, then throw some dynamite on it, let it explode, then take the ashes of that and sprinkle it on the graves of your enemies. This was Kayzo’s HARD Summer set on the Purple Stage.
The energy was absolutely raw and Hayden Cappuozzo appealed to the tastes of just about every person in the crowd. Playing a set that ranged from DnB to Dubstep to Trap to Hard Dance, including a special appearance from Gammer for their Happy Hardcore collaboration, Kayzo stole the show on Sunday afternoon. The diversity is immaculate. Kayzo is a stunning example for the argument that a genre is not something that defines you, you are what defines you.
2. Anna Lunoe – HARDer Stage
Sometimes improvisation makes for something a little more interesting. Anna Lunoe was not booked to play HARD Summer. In fact, she got the call just several hours before her performance. Due to the last minute absence of DJ Khaled, the Australian femme-fatale stepped in to deliver one of the most eclectic and heavy sets of the weekend.
Coming off of her historic turn at EDC Las Vegas where she was the first female solo act to play Kinetic Field, Lunoe kept the fire rolling. Dropping her own originals, some dirty edits, and IDs out the wazoo, I can’t stress enough how much of a pleasant surprise this set was for the crowd. And someone please help me find that absolutely filthy ID she dropped “Bah bah bah”… Baauer? RL Grime?
1. Boys Noize – HARDer Stage
Guess what… found my new favorite DJ this weekend. There’s just something about dark, dirty, grimy, sinister, tech house music that makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong… but in the rightest of ways.
I’d always known of Boys Noize, what he was about, and his significance in the business, but I’d never actually seen him. I was missing out.
After dropping his latest album, Mayday, an album full of different tech sounds from light to dark and from heavy to minimal, Boys Noize came out in full force to deliver a set that accurately translated the purpose of his album. With that said, this was Boys Noize’s night. He robbed the show, and for me, stuck out like a diamond in the rough.
There was no one else like Boys Noize, aside from Rezz, on the lineup. However, in regards to Rezz, Boys Noize had the advantage of both notoriety and a prime timeslot. The dark techno lent to the night and made for an unmatched experience… especially with the inclusion of Mayday’s opening track “Overthrow.”
As the track builds, with the piercing synths increasing in volume throughout the duration of the song, the driving baseline of the song kicks in along with the quick fire lyrical “I can break it down like this.” We reach a crescendo, and as an audience know that its about to go off. Looking up into the sky to see lights flailing around like the arms of attendees, “Overthrow” drops into a catastrophic whirlwind of pure dark bliss and so do I. I’ve truly never felt more…. savage.
With that, I say thank you to Boys Noize for this may in fact go down as one of my most memorable festival moments of all time. I look forward to many more in the future.
Thank you Boys Noize and I look forward to many more experiences from you ion the future.