Experiencing History at the Revival of HARD DOTD

Photo via Rukes for Insomniac


I remember years ago that I had wanted to experience HARD Day of the Dead after hearing the countless, positive responses everyone had about the event. I’ve attended HARD Summer multiple times over the years but never experienced HARD events’ flagship Halloween festival. So as years went by and DOTD wasn’t returning, my hopes of being able to experience DOTD were slowly diminishing until the surprise announcement at the end August, earlier this year.

After this past weekend and being able to attend at the venue where this festival originally began, I can officially say that I witnessed history with the revival of HARD Day of the Dead. With that I highly recommend this festival to any and all 21+ attendees, and here’s why:

LA Historic State Park is Here To Stay

This could be a biased opinion since this venue was where I attended my first ever music festival (and another biased opinion since my first festival was HARD Summer 2013), but I’m definitely here for having HARD events at the Los Angeles Historic State Park. Having the beautiful Los Angeles skyline alongside our incredible SoCal sunsets as the backdrop for these festivals is the cherry on top of an amazing event. It’s also easily accessible since it’s next to major public transportation stations and located in the heart of Los Angeles. Though there are some things that are out of our control such as the time duration of the event and sound quality (since the venue is near surrounding neighborhoods), I think Insomniac did the best they could for Day of the Dead’s revival.

Photo via Rukes for Insomniac

Legendary Acts and Performances

It was actually my first time ever seeing HARD veterans Die Antwoord, Shiba San, and J.Phlip and all the performances did not disappoint. I was dancing the entire time at the DURO stage for both Shiba San’s and J.Phlip’s sets, making new friends in the crowd and discovering two new artists that I like. My boyfriend had recommended me to watch Die Antwoord and I didn’t expect to witness such an amazing performance. The energy was unmatched and I’ve never felt so hyped during a set from an artist I hardly listened to. Let’s not forget Justice‘s incredible last live performance of the decade (they will still be doing DJ performances!). I was lucky enough to see Justice (Live) before at Coachella and Ultra 2017, but their set this past weekend definitely tops those performances—it was great witnessing history from the legends themselves.

Photo via Rukes for Insomniac

The “Next Level” Crowd Vibes

The crowds at DOTD were amazing. Everyone was here to have a good time, were all respectful of each others’ spaces, and had no bad energy around. I didn’t have to worry about moving too much or repeatedly bumping into someone at both the DURO and HARD stages. There was enough space for me to vibe out during Rodriguez Jr.‘s live set and to jump around and go crazy during Knife Party. I was able to give enough space for this attendee who was seeing her idols Die Antwoord for the first time and matching her energy as she was going wild during their set. Most importantly, and my favorite part of DOTD, was being able to scream the lyrics to Justice’s “Safe and Sound,” “DVNO,” “We Are Your Friends,” and “D.A.N.C.E” (of course), with a bunch of random strangers that I’ve never seen before in my life.

Photo via Ivan Meneses for Insomniac

Respect for Dia De Los Muertos 

Insomniac also paid respects to the culture, traditions and decorations relating to Dia de los Muertos. Inside the venue were murals, installations, papel picados hung throughout the festival, large scale figures at both stages, photo ops, as well as a live mariachi band. One of the more popular installations was the large-scale painted skull that was perfect as a photo backdrop, but one of my personal favorites was the mural created by Cloe Hakakian (#cloeART), which showcased her sugarskull renditions of Frida Kahlo, Cleopatra and other female figures. The live mariachi band made walking from both stages even more fun and the crowd couldn’t have agreed more. I saw attendees dancing to the songs the mariachi band was playing, taking pictures with them, and even striking conversations—making them feel like a part of the festival family.

Photo via Ivan Meneses for Insomniac

As my first ever HARD Day of the Dead event, I had an amazing experience from the music, the people and overall vibe of the event. It definitely was worth attending after a long work shift in San Diego as well as the drive to LA from SD. I will say that I wish I was able to attend DOTD in its previous years just to have experienced it, but this definitely was a great first time and I can’t wait to be back next year!

Photo via Ivan Meneses for Insomniac

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