This past weekend, the SoCal staple HARD Summer took place in between the San Bernardino mountains, at the scenic Glen Helen Amphitheater. Although many attendees were worried about the repercussions of the last-minute venue change, HARD blew all of us away with the organization and structure of all the elements within the festival grounds. Unlike previous HARD venues, this year's amphitheater allowed entry from two different sides of the area, which allowed for traffic in lines to be minimal, nearly nonexistent. The layout of the festival grounds made the stages and differing attractions, such as various food carts and a ferris wheel, easily accessible to all festival goers. The mountains surrounding the festival grounds allowed for breezes to come through and also helped regulate the already scorching heat that was apparent both days. There were various water stations throughout the festival, which allowed for shorter lines and easy access to cold water. Overall, the organization within the festival grounds was paramount to any other HARD event that we have attended in the past.
On Saturday, we found ourselves bouncing between the HARD Stage and the Pink Stage, both of which had artists that attended closely to our likings. When we first arrived at the festival, we immediately found ourselves listening to Drezo at the HARD Stage, which was taken over by the Pardon My French crew. After jamming out to some dark house, we gravitated towards the Pink Stage, which had been taken over by Night Bass and HYPERHOUSE. We were bouncing around at this stage for a couple of hours, enjoying the presences of Amine Edge & Dance and Chris Lorenzo. We then made our way back at the HARD Stage to see the anonymous DJ that everyone has learned to love, Malaa, who threw down ridiculous tech house while keeping his composure by expressing minimal emotion and strictly bouncing during drops.
We lingered at the HARD Stage in order to catch Confessions' own Tchami, who has worked with nearly all of the producers that performed on that stage earlier. We left Tchami a little early in order to catch a glimpse of YehMe2's debut set, which was nothing short of all the non-B.S. trap music you could ever dream of. Since the split from Floss, we were not totally sure what to expect from Josh, but he brought out the fire and even dedicated the end of his set to his wife by having a giant sing along to Hey Jude by The Beatles. It was the first time we've ever heard the Beatles at a festival, and the feels were all too real.
Not surprisingly, we migrated back to the Pink Stage in order to catch the artists who threw down what we considered the best set of the day, Anna Lunoe. Momma Lunoe spun throwback tracks such as Raven by Proxy, as well as her own tracks that she released through her label, HYPERHOUSE. Her stage presence and energy emanated through the crowd, and her spirit was consistently tangible throughout her entire set. Post Lunoe, we ended the day seeing none other than the Night Bass creator himself, AC Slater, who laid a heavy house hand on the crowd and kept us going through to the end of the night.
Day two came around quickly and as soon as we walked in, surprise surprise, we strolled to the Pink Stage to capture the essence of none other than Louisahhh, who threw down some insane techno with a little twist of trance, all while injecting her own unique style. After her set, we made our way to the back of the Pink Stage, seeing that we were so generously invited by the Dirtybird crew to hang out and meet a few artists. We were able to interact with artists such as Walker & Royce as well as Russia's own Phlegmatic Dogs, all while enjoying the excellent selection of music brought to us by Justin Martin.
We hung out with everyone for a while, and then sprinted to catch what was left of Ekali's set. Considering the insanity that was his set last year, we expected nothing less than amazing, and you guessed it, he delivered. After we picked up some food, we went to capture Shiba San's set at the Corona Electric Beach, at which he threw down a classic house set. Because What So Not had been on so many fest lineups, but we had never seen him, we were determined to at least capture half of his set. His set was everything that we expected from him and more, as he put a unique twist on his transitions and on the tracks that he played. When his set was concluded, the masses started piling into the pit in order to get the best spot to see the much anticipated set from Dog Blood. As expected, Dog Blood's set was the set of that day: Skrillex and Boys Noize's energy were extremely high, as they bounced in sync to all of the tracks that they played. Nonetheless, their set was a stunning conclusion to an already exceptional weekend.
Regardless of the heat and the last minute venue change, HARD has pulled off another amazing festival. We cannot wait to see what is to come in the years ahead of us. Happy 10 years, HARD Summer!
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Written by: Dominika Wilczek & Fadi AbuZaineh
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