As the festival season of 2014 draws to a close, Halloween weekend brings one final wave of massive events to satiate the palates of concert-goers everywhere. For those of us fortunate to reside in Southern California, Halloween weekend equates to a potpourri of festival madness. From HARD Day of the Dead (DoD) to other Halloween adventures, there is no dearth of choices for fans in the region.
Since 2007, HARD founder and CEO, as well as DJ, Gary “DESTRUCTO” Richards has been taking the Southern California festival scene by storm, organizing HARD events, such as HARD Summer and HARD Day of the Dead. HARD DoD started as a HARD Haunted Mansion that separated itself from the competition of other events around Halloween time, with a haunted house maze and EDM to lure in the ghouls. Richards explained that the goal every year is to improve in every aspect: production, talent and audience. “HARD started as idea in my head. I had no idea how to produce an event … we’ve come a long way,” he said. Eight years later, HARD Day of the Dead is set to take place this weekend on Nov. 1 and 2 at the Pomona Fairplex.
Boasting five stages with a stacked lineup that includes the likes of Diplo, Borgore, Tchami, Knife Party, RL Grime, Calvin Harris, Zedd, ZHU and a once-in-a-lifetime back-to-back set between progressive house legends Eric Prydz and Deadmau5, the lineup offers something to suit everyone’s electronic music tastes. Albeit small, fans of hip-hop will also be pleased to see its presence on the festival billing, with rappers Ty Dolla $ign and Cam’ron performing on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Though the marquee performers will make their appearances as the day turns into night, Richards still advises fans to “come early on Saturday and Sunday,” specifically endorsing some of the lesser-known performers such as house producer Wax Motif and trap artist Djemba Djemba. Trap music within EDM has exploded on the scene over the course of the past few months. These include remixes of hit songs like Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and YG’s “Who Do Love.” Trap music, a subgenre within the EDM sphere, incorporates heavy bass and raspy tones, compared to amalgam of crunk hip-hop beats and electronic music. Attendees will get their fill of everything EDM, including trap music.
The EDM scene itself has completely evolved since its beginning. In 2010-2011 numbers of fans started going from 10,000 to 30,000 as radio stations were the portal to get these artists out there. “HARD stays true (to) what HARD is: underground,” Richards began. “Big acts (broke into the mainstream) like Avicii on radio,” and, with the emergence of pop, EDM has made a home in the charts: the top 40 charts, to be exact. The event itself “never set out to be the biggest — always set out to play the coolest … even when EDM isn’t here, HARD will be there,” playing cool electronic music, Richards continued. “Hopefully we keep giving quality and keep it big.”
As festivals continue to shift toward the trend of creating a holistic experience that engrosses attendees in a new world, HARD Day of the Dead tries its hand at this by adding things ranging from carnival attractions to something no festival in the world has ever seen before: a zipline that takes festival goers in a near-half-circle from the entrance to the trademark HARD stage, where many of the marquee performers will throw down their sets.
Last year’s event took place in the LA State Historic park, which was said to be a difficult venue for the total amount of attendees. So with the event at the Fairplex in Pomona — the same venue as the LA County Fair — it gives guests and even artists a chance to explore what is possible. With two beer gardens for the of-age ravers, a ferris wheel, typhoon ride, VIP Red Room, makeup and photo booths along with merch stores to have souvenirs from your HARD night, there is something for everyone. Five stages, including the main HARD stage, surround 80 acres: “It feels bigger and better than anything we have done,” Richards said.
On Saturday, guests and even some artists on the bill will be part of a new experience. With HARD vets to newbies to the scene, it’s special to get every kind of fan or follower together for one event. Unique with music, vibe and location, HARD DoD can’t be duplicated. As Richards puts it, “(Day of the Dead) is going to be a completely different experience from anything else. We want to just create good vibes by showing people cool electronic music, and that’s what HARD has always been about since I created it in 2007.”