EDM festivals are some of my favorite experiences to cover with my camera. Definitely feel like a scientific sociological observer in a outrageous world of loud music & lights… once I survive the many boring security check points. Think I passed by 5 different gatekeepers as I entered Hard Summer. Definitely more than anyone trying to fly out of LAX, honestly. Pity, most news coverage of Hard Summer only focused on the sad & lethal.
Because Hard Summer really did there best to provide a comfortable environment for us attendees. Sadly caught sight of one of those kids trying to be revived by EMTs. All I remember was their lifeless shoes shaking. My heart aches. It really does. No one should leave the life of the party.
But is no excuse for anything less than bad drugs in that situation. There was water spots everywhere I turned, areas to get out of the blazing sun rays, and so much more. Only wish they had more seats. Passing by crowds of ravers hiding in the shadows of tents, buildings, and garages between sets was a little much. By 5PM, my legs were aching. Parked myself against a box at the HARDer stage before Anderson .Paak’s set. Just couldn’t handle it. By that time I had been on my feet for 7 hrs. That kind of “Hard” wasn’t what I expected or wanted. Almost stole a chair from the VIP pool area by the main stage.
VIP Life was AMAZING! Took me an hour to find out that I missed the wristband pickup because there was no signs and people kept spreading bad info. Spent most of my time walking around the Auto Club Speedway in search of a ghost labeled “girl with a flower crown”. That wore me out more than anything else. Please, Hard Fest, put a sign up or teach your people a FAQ list. Hell… put it on the map! Meeting Auto Club Speedway volunteers/Alcoholic Guards, Bob & Bill, was the silver lining of my VIP search. Bonded with them quickly. They told me their back stories. Bob & Bill were excited for me when I finally got hooked up.
But yeah, the VIP areas were always empty. Had close access to every performer. Made my day 10x better. Loved the amenities of our own bar, food truck, cool zone, and pool. I could’ve relaxed all day pool side; drinking endless amounts of liquor as the main stage raged. That was the life man. I didn’t. I walked, everywhere. Kept my schedule full. The quiet VIP allowed me to see everyone I wanted to see and more. Had no conflicts. The set times were meaty enough that I could catch 30 minutes of each act before moving to each stage. Felt bad for all those souls at the Main Stage waiting for their favorite all day. Been there, done that. No one should suffer through a festival like that. But bravo to you crazy kids.
I went to see Anderson .Paak, but stayed for Travi$ Scott. Didn’t care about seeing Ice Cube a second time. Part of me wanted to see Pretty Lights headline the HARDer Stage… but EDM shows aren’t known for buzzworthy-ness. They are glorified light shows. At their core. So, listening to the entire set on YouTube is a great alternative. But Anderson Paak is a spectacle that must be seen, heard, and experience. His energy on that stage comes off like rays of the sun; Powerful enough to make super-men & super-women lose control. For one of the few rappers on the Hard Summer card, they really did pluck out an amazing performer. Bravo.
Travi$ Scott had energy too. His music didn’t really fit the beautiful sunset set time assigned to him. Would’ve been better at night. But, he made the most of it. Travi$ wanted to turn us ravers into ragers and he accomplished that goal. Even grabbed a random fan to bow at his feet before throwing himself into the mosh pit of the commoners. Seeing how Travi$ is a member of the ever popular GOOD Music squad, there were many Kanye references throughout his set. Also, thought it was funny his DJ played Rihanna’s “Famous” hook before he took the stage. It was weird that Travis and his DJ kept beefing as the set went on. Interesting.
Fun fact: “Antidote” by Travis Scott was the most remixed track played around Day 1 of the festival. Everyone had it in their mixes. Got a tad annoying.
Out of all the DJs, found Malaa’s mysterious & passionate old school techno mission connected with me most. His set was killer. Those hardcore fans of his displayed such a carefree nature that I didn’t really see at most sets. It was one party I glad I experienced.
Left and beat the crowd out the Auto Club after catching Justin Martin’s Pink Stage showcase. Had to end my night with some EDM. The walk back to my car was long… soooooo happy I didn’t have to deal with crowds or traffic. Best. Decision. Ever. Then I grabbed some muchies.
Had such a blast being a Hard Summer VIP.. But my favorite part of the trip wasn’t the music or drinks, it was the venue. The Auto Club Speedway was such a surreal music venue. I walked between stages on actual NASCAR & Indy Car pavement. Photo wise: got some spectacular angles on the HARDer stage from the top of turn 1 & 4 by the starting line. The angle let me shoot down on the massive crowd of ravers. Pray I keep that memory until it’s lights out.
Can’t wait to repeat it all next year. Because I think being a Hard Summer veteran is a really cool thing. Photos below. Adele… coming soon!
Categories: Night Out