Halloween for the 21 and up crowd is a time for sloppy celebration. Whether you’re playing pong in a backyard or hitting on a slutty bunny at a bar, the turn up is always real, especially in 2015 when it falls on a Saturday. For your average SoCal raver this is a time of the year where you have to make a choice between a selection of music festivals. This time around there was no question which one I would be choosing. With artists like Deadmau5, Flying Lotus, and Gesaffelstein, HARD Day of the Dead became my top choice for spooky festivities.
Gary Richards‘ HARD Events is a favorite for many music lovers in Southern California. Unfortunately their reputation fell under criticism following the death of two attendees as well as massive hospitalization from others. With the fast coming of their Halloween event they needed to make some quick decisions in order to keep their loyal fans happy. Day of the Dead ended up at the Pomona Fairplex again, but this time they put a minimum age of 21+. The outcome was a smaller festival with a mature vibe, something that many enjoyed after witnessing how overcrowded HARD Summer was.
The first day began with a string of artists including Thee Cool Cats, Gladiator, Falcons, Alison Wonderland, Sango, and Sub Focus. Whether you believe us or not we caught all of these acts within the first 3 hours of the festival. Our favorite part of this new layout was the proximity of each stage. It took about 2 minutes to walk between each stage with all of them being equidistant from each other.
Afterwards, we were surprised to find out that ‘The Cuff Posse’ was actually a set from Amine Edge & Dance, one of our favorite G-House acts. Later we caught Los Angeles beat scene native Djemba Djemba who threw down a furious bass heavy set of experimental bangers. Later we hit the main stage to join our shark squad fam at Jauz‘s set. This was followed by an inspiring performance by Future who discussed the issues of California’s drought. This all led to a performance by our favorite UK electronic band, Hot Chip. Besides some sound issues at the main stage, the production was on point and it made their set stand out.
We eventually hit the smaller Strobe stage which was sponsored by Smirnoff. This one hosted XXYYXX and Bonobo, easily some of the dreamiest sets of the night. But nothing could compare to the smiles that Armand Van Helden put on our faces. Being one half of Duck Sauce, he met up to our bold expectations of killer disco house.
Of course the end of the night included all of the best acts so we decided to stop by at each one, the first being Los Angeles beat scene god Flying Lotus. This man has always been my favorite producer and biggest inspiration but I feel like I have always seen him at small events. This was my first legit FlyLo festival experience and I gotta say I was extremely impressed. His mixing abilities were 100x better than ever and the visual screen that encaptured his shadow gave it an alternate dimensional feel. He messed around mixing tracks through a 5 minute intro that eventually led to a bass heavy trap banger that set the entire floor into flames. Watch below as glenjam3 captures what I thought was my favorite moment at Day of the Dead.
Day 2 of the Dead hit it off with a main stage performance by Troyboi followed by the legendary Felix Da Housecat. After a bit of Rezz, Oliver, and Club Cheval‘s live performance it was off to the land of Jersey Club for the legendary DJ Sliink. The day really took off at My Nu Leng‘s dirty UK Garage set. After he got me craving more house music we enjoyed a fantasy induced tech house set from the witch doctor known as Claptone. This was followed by my biggest surprise of the night, AC Slater‘s ridiculous set at his acclaimed Night Bass stage.
Marshmello also performed his 2nd performance ever at the Bone Shaker stage. Checkout his performance below.
Finally we hit the main stage for the final string of performers, starting off with Gesaffelstein’s DJ set. This went off like a bomb, his evil styles flowed throughout the biggest crowd we’ve ever seen him play to. The Halloween vibes were in place as the grueling visuals and heavy bass melted nearly everyone around. A perfect way to kick it off before our savior Boys Noize.
Where do we even start with this one? Celebrating 10 years of his label BNR Records, we really could not have been more excited for his performance at this fest. His visuals were done live by Sus Boy, a glitchy artist from WeDidIt Collective who also takes credit for RL Grime and Dog Blood‘s visuals. The combination of gore, digital chaos, and 808 bouncing beats made this easily one of the most impressive performances of the weekend. We never know what Boys Noize is going to bring to the table. One of my favorite moments was when he built up his track XTC with some zany amateur vocal samples that shouted “one time DJ” and “here we go!”. It was so strange yet it fit perfectly into his extended buildup which later dropped into something completely different yet extremely heavy. Acid house is real. It is a thing, but Boys Noize is the only one who could really pull that style off on the main stage leaving everyone questioning their existence.
After questioning our existence for 15 minutes, we were about ready to witness one last bout of destruction by the dubstep icon Skrillex. His set was so much fun that I had not realized more than half of his set flew by while we were headbanging and getting down and dirty to a plethora of bangers along with filthy edits of classic originals like Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites and Equinox. At one point during the set he gave a heartfelt speech about drug abuse, caring about your friends and family, and being in the scene for the right reasons. After we all gave into the feels and had our group hugs, he then dropped his new track that he produced for Justin Bieber, and then brought out Diplo to play out some Jack Ü tracks for the last 15 minutes of his set. We took this as our cue to leave and catch the last little bit of Jamie Jones before we made our way home from an epic weekend.
This year’s Day of the Dead was still an awesome time and proved that HARD can still throw an awesome event even after going through some tough times. The reason why festivals like this will always prosper is because the true fans of music know how to respect not only the venue and artists, but also themselves. It’s the real fans that propel event companies and blogs to go out and get the best artists and content so that you can have the best experience overall.
We’d like to thank HARD for continuing to allow us to come cover their events, as well as throwing some of the best parties in the world. We wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors. Cheers to another fantastic festival!
– Written by Louis and Fadi