HARD Summer season returned to the NOS Occasions Heart in San Bernardino this previous weekend for its 14th(!) version and its first ever foray as a 3-day competition. Boasting a stacked lineup that includes among the greatest names in dance music and hip-hop, this 12 months’s HARD was one for the ages. The levels have been epic, the structure was pleasant and handy, the vibes and vitality of the group have been off the charts. Regardless of the sweltering warmth and humidity over the weekend, Insomniac made positive that each one it’s headliners have been hydrated and shaded as they partied into the night time.
First off, let’s speak about among the logistical modifications that Insomniac made to the structure of the competition. The very first thing I observed from an aesthetic standpoint was the transformed levels. Clearly, NOS hosts a number of Insomniac festivals over the course of the 12 months, and more often than not, the levels are enclosed in a mega-structure. For final 12 months’s HARD, the staff made the attention-grabbing selection of eradicating nearly the entire roofs of the mega-structures, however in any other case leaving the levels intact.
This 12 months, the mega-structure roofs have been utterly accomplished away with, permitting the HARD and HARDer levels to light up the night time sky. The HARD stage featured the acquainted trapezoid design that has featured on earlier HARD levels and in addition evokes the Mayan temple from HARD Day of the Lifeless. The HARDer stage underwent and much more drastic evolution. Transformed into one thing of a smaller Coachella stage, the HARDer stage featured huge video panels adorning your complete stage. The crowds there have been handled to insane colours and visuals in addition to up shut appears to be like of their favourite performers on stage.
One other large change that alleviated site visitors was the tunnel that went from the HARD to the HARDer stage. Final 12 months, there was a large wall between the 2 levels and one needed to stroll all the best way round and again to journey between the 2 locations. This 12 months, the tunnel supplied a faster different, in addition to a detour to the Pink Tent, and allowed for extra breathability going between levels. In reality, when you went into the tunnel, you have been handled to shade and misters that have been far more prevalent this 12 months. The climate could have sucked, however Insomniac did their half to assist alleviate the warmth.
HARD has at all times featured an eclectic lineup that’s barely left of middle. Whereas after all there have been artists on the lineup who match that description and are HARD mainstays like Porter Robinson, Madeon, Alison Wonderland and Jai Wolf; Home music was giant and in cost this 12 months with artists starting from Chris Lake, Classic Tradition, Wax Motif, James Hype, Anabel Englund and Matroda all gracing the HARD stage. This 12 months’s hip-hop lineup additionally supplied up one thing for everybody. Zoomers obtained Lil Uzi Vert and Denzel Curry. Millennials obtained Three 6 Mafia (Juicy J and Challenge Pat are nonetheless going onerous!). Everybody in between obtained Megan Thee Stallion and 21 Savage. Whether or not you wished to get hype or get in your feels, this 12 months’s HARD Summer season obtained you.
It was a late arriving crowd on Friday’ it’s at all times brutal driving into San Bernardino from Los Angeles at the moment of day. I loved the shade and mist of the VIP space as Anabel Englund had no matter small quantity of headliners have been there vibing out to her set. James Hype was a particular spotlight together with his insane mixing expertise and great mashups of g-house and 2000s rap and hip-hop classics. Griz was one other big spotlight as he has not carried out at HARD Summer season since 2015 again when the occasion was on the Pomona Fairplex. He had his full stay band, psychedelic visuals, and naturally, that attractive sax. I left all of it out on the dancefloor for Griz’s efficiency. Right here’s hoping we don’t have to attend one other seven years to see him again at HARD.
Saturday undoubtedly noticed extra headliners descend upon the NOS Occasions Heart. I began the day without work on the HARD stage the place Matroda was throwing down the home vibes. I ultimately made my manner over to HARDer stage for a few of LP Giobbi’s set and he or she continues to impress along with her distinctive model of groovy home in addition to distinctive visuals. As soon as the solar went down, Three 6 Mafia took the stage, and the group began getting hype because the legendary Memphis duo threw down hit after hit from “Bin Laden,” “Facet 2 Facet” and “Poppin My Collar.” 2000’s Mark was very completely satisfied throughout this set as have been a variety of millennials to make certain.
After transient stops at Dimension and Alison Wonderland, I made it again over to HARDer for the spotlight of the night time. Madeon performing Good Religion Eternally stay. Other than a few DJ units, I had not seen Madeon carry out solo stay since Coachella in 2015. He did carry out with Porter Robinson at Coachella 2017, however once more, it’d been awhile since I’d seen Madeon solo, and it was properly definitely worth the wait. Unleashing among the most mind-blowing visuals I’ve ever seen, the French singer/songwriter/producer wowed the group with stay renditions of his Good Religion tracks in addition to up to date variations of his outdated progressive classics like “Imperium” and “You’re On.”
It was one other full day on Sunday, as I obtained in early to take a look at somewhat little bit of Area Wizard on the Inexperienced Stage earlier than heading over to the HARDer stage for Rossy. The up and coming producer and DJ threw down an appropriately HARD set of old school lure that actually obtained your blood flowing if the warmth was getting you down.
Highlights of the day needed to be Sidepiece and Tchami. With the solar down and the ultimate night time afoot, the duo of Nitti Gritti and Occasion Favor didn’t disappoint as they expertly blended home grooves with 90s and 2000s classics that had the dance flooring vibing. Facet notice, when you discovered that open space to the proper of the HARDer stage you lucked out, you had area to bounce all night time lengthy. And, so we did as Tchami took the stage. The famend French producer/DJ dropped a banger of a set that includes all kinds of home genres.
Porter Robinson closed out the night time on the HARD stage, and followers needed to be delighted by his mix of latest tracks like “Take a look at the Sky” and “One thing Comforting” in addition to new re-imaginings of his traditional Worlds tracks like “Straightforward” and “Unhappy Machine.” HARD perhaps an digital music fest, however the musicality of EDM itself is at all times on show at HARD Summer season.
Whereas there was little question that HARD Summer season was an absolute vibe, and there are undoubtedly performances that may stick with me for a very long time. The one query I’ve for HARD going ahead is, is three days actually essential? This time of the 12 months is brutal, and it actually felt like the group was fairly mild at sure instances. Insomniac additionally often broadcasts subsequent 12 months’s version of the competition instantly. We didn’t get that announcement for HARD Summer season 2023. One must assume it would return to NOS, nonetheless, perhaps it will likely be scaled again a day. Both manner, this 12 months’s HARD Summer season was an absolute blast, and I hope that it will probably return in such an epic type subsequent 12 months.