Feature Photo: Ivan Meneses for Insomniac Events
It was hot. It was heavenly. It was HARD Summer and it was great to be back. High temps and big crowds is nothing new for the summertime festival which settled into its new home at the NOS Events Center in Southern California complete with a massive footprint that included shaded areas, cooling misters and well-run water stations. The music was on point from start to finish and what a finish it was.
Of course there was a general feeling of elation from being surrounded by so many festival devotees after such a long break, but it was also evident the artists on the lineup were also feeling the love from the throngs of fans battling through sun and sweat to show their support. There were countless thank you’s and expressions of appreciation being voiced from the decks, a sign that they missed us just as much as we missed them. Craze wowed those who made their way over to the Purple Stage with an absolutely wild drum and bass set along with eye-popping visuals even in broad daylight. Yultron’s high energy set had the main stage popping off like it was already nightfall, flags flying and totems twisting. The Green Stage on Saturday had too many stand out sets to count with CHARLESTHEFIRST, Blunts & Blondes and of course G Jones B2B EPROM blowing the crowd away. Kaytranada also delivered yet another stunning set to a massive crowd of faithful fans.
Sunday brought some of the best from a wide range of genres. The much anticipated Nitti Gritti B2B Wuki on the HARDER Stage greeted many attendees as they made their way into the festival and the Bad Boys Club debut on the Green Stage drew a huge crowd curious to see what GG Magree and Cray had up their sleeves. What was delivered was a fun, hit-laden set and the two seemed to be having the time of their life playing for fans. As nighttime approached, 2 Chainz took over the HARD Stage and the crowd ate up every classic he served up. The stage really packed in when Gerald’s dad, Dillon Francis, stepped up. Running through his impressive catalog complete with impressive pyro, the set really drove the point home that festivals are BACK. In the back of many attendees mind that day though was the grand finale, the old skool dubstep set from Skream. The opening of the set featured legends in the game talking about Skream’s influence on them and then the man himself appeared on stage. The visuals were on point and onlookers stood stunned at the spectacle. A sight many fans thought they’d never see and classics they only dreamed of hearing live, Skream’s set truly ended HARD Summer on an iconic note.
Being one of the first large scale music festivals to take place on the west coast and battling record breaking temperatures was a giant task to take on but Insomniac seemed to handle it well and the new home for HARD Summer was a familiar, comfortable one for the company and its loyal fans. While some of the stages could have used a few more shaded areas overall the setup was great, providing a ton to explore as you made your way from set to set. The exit each night was a puzzling bottleneck of patient ravers, a scenario I don’t recall seeing at past NOS Events Center festivals, but eventually everyone filtered out of the venue heading to their mode of transportation. The HARD brand continues to deliver a unique experience with all the bass one can handle and a few sides of addictive house and hip hop. Until next year!