This past weekend I got to go to one of the most talked about EDM festivals events in Southern California. I’m talking about the spooktastic HARD Haunted Mansion. The lineup this year was unbelievable for both days. Unfortunately, I was only able to attend Sunday’s festivities, but from what I heard about Saturday, it was amazing. Rusko, The Crookers, and Fake Blood all threw down amazing sets the first night–which made me even more sad I didn’t attend. Fortunately, Sunday was fantastic. The Shrine, which is right next to USC in LA, is as good a venue as it is simple. One inside stage, one outside stage. That’s it. It made navigating a breeze. Anyway, enough chit-chat; let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
When I got there, my group went straight to the outside stage to see Calvin Harris perform. From what I know about Harris, it’s that he sings on his tracks, usually to a nu disco or house beat. I was surprised to see that he put on a performance like that of any other DJ would. But, his set was still decent. Although not too many parts stood out to me, his mixing was spot-on and he did a great job of warming up the crowd for later acts.
Now here’s where things get interesting. The rest of my night was spent at the inside stage. A hot, smoky, perspiration-filled room with one huge stage and a sick light show was all that the crowd needed to cause a riot. Personal favorite Flying Lotus was the first performer I saw on this stage. I don’t know if I’m biased, but I honestly can say he was one of the better DJs of the night. First off, the music he played was out of this world… literally. I felt like a laser was being shot into my brain and sending me to another dimension. Super bassy beats, crisp drum progressions, and superb improvisation made for a truly unforgettable performance. Not only that, but his showmanship was great too. He bounced, danced, and bobbed his head along with the crowd. At one point he even got on the microphone and yelled out “Happy Halloween Motherf*ckers!” Great, great set.
After FlyLo was the “special guest.” Everyone thought it would be one of the previous night’s performers, particularly Rusko. it actually turned out to be Miike Snow. This definitely caught me off guard. Not being familiar with his music, I didn’t think he would be a good choice for HARD. But, his skills were pretty legit. Much like Calvin Harris, however, his set was forgettable. He didn’t really do anything to “wow” me. But I guess I haven’t developed an ear for his style, so maybe next time around I’ll be more prepared.
The rest of the night was awesome. Erol Alkan came on right after Miike Snow and blew the place up. Wavy synths and head-pounding beats got everyone up and dancing. I don’t even know the tracks he played, save his collaboraton with Boys Noize Lemonade, but it was a mindf*ck. I had to go and find a place to sit because his set was so purely intense. I still enjoyed every minute of it, though.
The closing act was one I was particularly ecstatic to see–Jack Beats. Let me tell you, they did not disappoint. They owned SO hard. I swear, it was like watching gods perform. They had the crowd in the palm of their hand the whole time. Every drop penetrated the crowds’ minds. The whole room was literally bouncing up and down in synch. Some memorable parts included their remix of La Roux’s I’m Not Your Toy and 12th Planet’s monster remix of Rusko’s Hold On. A truly fantastic performance.
All in all, HARD Haunted Mansion was a great event. Things are only looking brighter for HARD events, as they’re quickly becoming closer to being equals with Cali promoter giant Insomniac.
Photo Credit: The ultra-talented Caesar Sebastian!