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Justice, Disclosure, Empire of the Sun, Claude VonStroke, and more make Hard Summer one to remember

Hard Summer

Now in its seventh year of existence, the Hard Summer festival once again grabbed Los Angeles’ State Historic Park by its cojones over the weekend. Featuring a roster of artists from across the electronic spectrum, the music was spread across four stages and two days, and performed for some 70,000 people. Somewhere between a high school rave and a state fair that you really wouldn’t want to bring your parents to, there were many things in abundance. Among them: syncopated hi-hats, undergarments disguised as clothing, and young people absolutely on one. Or two.

Disclosure

Disclosure

Disclosure

Alex Metric

Alex Metric

Ryan Hemsworth, XXYYXX, Disclosure, and Alex Metric brought the daytime heat on day one. XXYYXX’s dreamy, otherworldly set was one of the standouts of the event, a respite from the more traditionally kick-snare fare coming out of most other speakers. It’s still hard to believe that the Orlando native Marcel Everett is only 17 years old; Everett cites Disclosure as one of his influences, and that young British duo’s set did not disappoint either. With more instrumentation on display than almost any other performer at the show, brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence’s mix of live electronic drums, bass guitar, and vocals brought a packed tent to near constant screams of appreciation.

2 Chainz

2 Chainz

TNGHT

TNGHT

 

Appearing on the main stage as the weekend’s only real rap act (Azealia Banks cancelled late in the game with a throat infection), 2 Chainz drew one of the biggest crowds of the day. “Bandz a Make Her Dance” and “Birthday Song” were interwoven with swaggy freestyling over a succession of trap beats. Just Blaze and RL Grime were other daytime highlights. The transition into evening brought out the bigger guns, like Dog Blood (Skrillex and Boys Noize), TNGHT, and Flying Lotus, to name a few. The latter brought his “Layer 3” visual show and appeared onstage as his rapper alter-ego Captain Murphy, mixing past hits with a bunch of new beats—not all of which went over terribly well. “I’m disappointed that y’all ain’t more funky,” he said towards the end of his set, addressing a crowd that wasn’t exactly going buck wild for his set.

Flying Lotus

Flying Lotus

Not all was sunny in Skrilladelphia, however. A 21-year-old male fan suffered “cardiac distress” due to an apparent overdose between the Dog Blood and Flying Lotus sets, and was later confirmed dead at LAC+USC Medical Center. “Damn. I saw a guy die before I played my set. Heavy,” Lotus wrote on Twitter.

Crystal Castles

Crystal Castles

Crystal Castles

Gesaffelstein

Gesaffelstein

 

Day two brought the crowds out for a typically energetic late-afternoon set from Crystal Castles, whose Alice Glass shrieked between cigarettes, surfing deep into the crowd and at one point standing upright on fans’ shoulders. French technician and erstwhile vampire Gesaffelstein followed with a murky, lurching set of horrorstep, playing the part in a black suit underneath the oppressive LA sun.

Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun

Justin Martin

Justin Martin

Claude VonStroke

Claude VonStroke

At the other end of the color spectrum was the psych-pop pastiche that is Empire of the Sun. Their combination of guitars solos, shiny headdresses, and Power Ranger dancers was all rather Cirque du Soleil-esque, but most of the day’s dancing took place in the Underground tent, where back-to-back two-hour sets from Justin Martin and Claude VonStroke were full of female vocal samples and good vibes. Later that evening, before he went on to perform, Dillon Francis told the crowd gathered before him, “If you don’t like Moombahton, you’re at the wrong fucking stage.”

Baauer

Baauer

Justice

Justice

 

Daytime performances by the likes of Breakbot, Mr. Oizo, So-Me, and Busy P were followed by Justice, who headlined the packed Ed Banger stage. The French duo’s DJ set delighted in ’80s American pop and rock, but Sunday night’s headliner gold star went to Baauer, who upset expectations and pretty much killed with a series of gully hip-hop remixes and assorted digital heaviness.

Sharpie Neon

You can hardly read it, but this guy’s shirt says “I’m so fucking high right meow.”

Despite sponsored-cum-spiritual absurdities such as mystical tents for Sharpie’s new line of neon markers and blu’s electronic cigarettes, corporate branding and marketing presence was generally kept away from the music stages. Production values were excellent across the board, with even the smallest stage setup producing enough bass to separate wheat from chaff (metaphorically and otherwise). With yet another sold-out show, next year’s Hard Summer seems all but certain. Don’t bring your parents.

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