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California Music Festivals Review

HARD Rises From the Dead at Los Angeles State Historic Park

HARD Day of the Dead returned to its roots at Los Angeles State Historic Park November 3, with musical greats Justice, Die Antwoord and Knife Party at the top of the festival’s bill.

Attracting hardcore electronic music lovers who love to dress up in costume, dance and party with their friends, the first HARD event was hosted at the Los Angeles State Historic Park on December 31, 2007, where Justice also headlined the bill. Gary Richards, HARD founder and music producer, created the festival to provide a community for electronic dance music artists and emerging talents in the industry to perform and thrive. While Richards has stepped away from the production side of the festival, this year’s line-up was still representative of what HARD has always been about, with a diverse range of electronic music acts highlighting top tier budding producers and DJs.

Insomniac, an electronic music event promoter, has taken over full production of HARD events in 2018 and produced a nostalgic Day of the Dead event for fans of the HARD name. This year’s HARD Day of the Dead was a 21+ event, which pulled a more intimate crowd of dedicated fans. Once HARD started growing into larger scale events they moved east of Los Angeles to larger outdoor venues like Fairplex in Ponoma, NOS Events Center and the Fontana Motorspeedway, because of spacial and noise restrictions around the Los Angeles State Historic Park.

It has been a year since the city of Los Angeles decided to rebuild the city park and take another crack at hosting large music events, and like many others, we were excited to return to Los Angeles for HARD Day of the Dead.

Cashmere Cat at HARD Day of the Dead.

Just before sunset on Saturday, Cashmere Cat, a future bass producer that fuses hip-hop and R&B into his music sets, debuted his new live show production, which utilized motion capture software that allows the audience to see a larger projection of himself on screen mirroring his dance moves on stage. Cashmere Cat’s new visuals also hinted that “Princess Cat Girl” may be a new project he will be releasing through Interscope Records later this year. Fans who saw Cashmere Cat’s set at HARD Day of the Dead were also treated to a sneak preview of a few unreleased tracks.

Once the sun went down, the tempo went right back up with music sets by Knife Party, J Phlip, Shiba San & more. DJs took over two stages with a large main stage for live acts and a smaller DJ stage, making it easy for music fans to check out both stages and see everyone they wanted to see on the lineup.

Die Antwoord, a South African hip-hop duo consisting of Ninja and Yolandi Visser, definitely knows how to get freaky. With a great amount of rap and hip-hop fused together, the duo took the stage sporting oversized sweat suits as they progressively stripped off different layers of clothing until they both end the show performing in their underwear. Their music is inspired by zef, a South African counterculture movement which encourages people to embrace their inner weirdness and the ability to let go of what people think or say about you. Their live show is definitely all about the high energy and swagger they carry on stage.

As HARD festival reached its conclusion, French electronic producers, Justice performed their last live show of their ‘Woman Worldwide’ tour. The duo consists of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay, who combine electronic dance music, indie and rock influences into the music they make. This past August, the duo released Woman Worldwide (WWW), an album featuring the duo’s singles remixed and mashed up, which exemplified the sounds they brought to the festival in Los Angeles.

Although HARD management has been passed from Gary Richards on to Insomniac, the events still carry the heart and soul of dance music and the Downtown Los Angeles electronic music scene, which means HARD Day of the Dead is bound to live on into the future of the scene.

For more information on upcoming HARD events, visit their website here.

About the author

Victoria Kobayashi

Victoria is a music and arts contributor reporting on live events and festivals happening throughout California. She was born and raised in Sacramento and recently graduated from the University of California, Davis, majoring in Design and minoring in Professional Writing. Her hobbies include browsing through fashion blogs, photography, listening to new music, thrift store shopping and going on weekend road trips. She's always down for an adventure and meeting new people.

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