Click on a track to play a song!
Aug 13

HARD Summer 2010

2manydjs Benga breakbot caspa crystal castles diplo empathy hard la in for the kill la roux major lazer Skream soulwax switch the bloody beetroots warp fu
2ManyDJs & The Bloody Beetroots - Warp Fu (Bones Edit)
Crystal Castles - Empathy
La Roux - In For The Kill (Skream's Let's Get Ravey Remix)
What can be said about HARD LA 2010? First of all, this was held at one of the best venues I've ever attended--the Los Angeles historic state park near Chinatown. At first I was highly skeptical because HARD has had terrible choices for venues in the past. The Shrine Expo, for example, is more like a small gymnasium on the University of Southern California campus. When I attended Hard Halloween in 2008, it was far too crowded, poorly ventilated, and extremely cramped. It was very difficult then to simply get from stage to stage in the building's narrow walkways.

In 2009 HARD Summer was held near the bad parts of town at The Forum. It was canceled due to riots and not enough security. I should know because as I tried to leave with my four buddies in my car it was being kicked and attacked by hooligans. I barely escaped before the SWAT trucks and police cars arrived.

Well HARD has certainly learned from their mistakes it seems. This park near Chinatown gave us plenty of space and the stages were epic. It was nice to have the grass under our feet as we bounced. Here's my breakdown of the artists I got around to seeing.

I started off with Breakbot's show. He mixed it up a lot and kept us all guessing. He threw in Stress by Justice, Lyposuct by D.I.M, and even slowed it down for the classic LA tune Smoke Weed Everyday by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. This stage never smelled the same thereafter. Later I went to the HARDer stage and saw Switch. This dude was very hit and miss. I loved some of his tracks but then others were a bit boring. He also stopped the decks way too many times to play the next tune. He didn't seem rehearsed or that into the show. However, I gave him another chance during his Major Lazer set and he redeemed himself.

Next I got a strong dose of Dubstep from Benga and Skream from the United Kingdom. They played a joint set for two hours and really rocked the crowd. The energy grew so wild there were mosh pits going on and I joined in on the frenzy (naturally as I enjoy metal too). The duo had tons of energy and Benga spit raps on the mic. He even stage dived a bit before management hassled him. Not only were they interactive with the crowd but they mixed it up pretty well between different styles of dubstep. I was really getting into the musie--these two really hit the decks. My only qualm is that just like Switch, they stopped the tracks several times instead of mixing in the next song. Track selection was great though.

I know this Caspa guy is supposedly a big shot DJ in dubstep, but I wasn't feeling him. He started off a bit weak when what I was hoping for was some kind of explosive intro. What really disappointed me was the lack of variety. You couldn't truly tell one track from the next. It was just one overly hard dubstep track next to another. The MC wasn't every good either. It was at this point I left to catch the rest of Diplo's set. Now this dude was awesome and knew precisely what he was doing. Not only did he have great mixing skills and variety, but he was his own MC too. At one point he mixed the Skream dubstep remix of In For The Kill by La Roux into a Pon De Floor Remix by Afrojack. The crowd loved this set to pieces.

I was really excited to see Crystal Castles after loving their new album so much. However, as I feared, they may have beef with HARD. Yeah that's right I said it. Back in 2008 when I first saw them they performed the same way. They hid by the sides of the stages and you could not see them unless you were up in the front. The last time I saw them at Together As One last New Years Eve, they had tons of energy and Alice even stagedove into the crowd. They were explosive that time! Well, sadly not this time and I suspect it had to do with their relationship to the HARD organizers. What was great was their track selection. They played my favorites from the new album like Empathy and Baptism. Crystal Castles also played some amazing classics such as Air Wave, Crimewave, and Reckless, to name a few. Overall they were alright, but they had a much better performance at TAO 2010.

Major Lazer had a wild show that might not have been legal! I remember at one point they ordered that we all take off an article of clothing and wave it around in the air. Let's just say I saw some awesome things. Major Lazer brought with them a whole new attitude and woke people up with their explosive energy. Switch and Diplo dressed in their fancy suits and there were Chinese dragons dancing on the stage. That's right! Chinese dragons! Maybe I was too drunk at this point, but that really made the show for me. They played some great reggae electro and had a sick mashup using Benassi's classic Satisfaction. Major Lazer also performed their signature stunt involving a ladder, a horny dancer, and a wicked MC. After that, they brought a bunch of girls on stage from the crowd and good times were had by all.

By eleven I was very tired but Soulwax (pictured) re-energized me with a live instrument setup. Not only did they steal the show, but the crowd was at its peak! I nearly lost it when they played Warp Fu. No matter how many blisters formed on my feet I could not stop dancing. Previously I had only seen Soulwax perform a DJ set but this time I saw the full-on band, and I have to say that Soulwax was the highlight of my night.

HARD Summer was definitely one of the better raves I've attended. Check out the video clip of the incredible performance by Soulwax--it gives me the goosebumps all over. Skip to 3 minutes 30 seconds for the best part.