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ON THE FLOOR A-Trak


Gesaffelstein


HARD Summer lovin’! Y


ou want me to take off my what? You’re shitting me, for real?” And so the adventure begins, DJ Mag USA,


shoeless, in the jagged-ass rocky terrain of the HARD Summer Festival 2012 security checkpoint. There’s lots of eye rolling going on to our right as each party-goer has more or less the same reaction. Really, though, the complaints just stem from the extra two minute delay in getting to the stages, which are already dropping ridiculous beats in the background. “Let’s do this people!” someone shouts from the back of one of the lines. And “Do this”, we do!


Gary Richard’s events rarely disappoint and HARD Summer at the LA Historic Park is no exception. While the attire includes the standard fuzzy boots and candy swag, ain’t nothin’ warm and fuzzy about what transpires over the next two days. HARD beats, HARD bass and visual awesomeness with a special dose of funk, indie-electro and hip-hop — a successful blend making this festival one for the books.


Slightly tardy after having to lace up our kicks again, we’re super-stoked to catch a personal fave. As always, Yukimi Nagano — girl crush alert — and the rest of her band Little Dragon play a great set, although the slot is a touch early for a festival that is set to end around 2am (which is to be lauded — that’s pretty late in US festival world, but only permissible due to the festival’s 18 and over policy). Also playing the HARD stage a bit later are Miike Snow, another borderline indie-rock group on the line- up, who equally bang out an amazing set, only this time to a larger crowd considering that the sun is already set. Bloc Party follow with a highly


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anticipated performance and don’t disappoint the crowd, although they seem to feel a touch out of place with jabs on the mic regarding their non “banging techno” set. Nobody seems to mind, the audience loving it long time. Either that, or they’re there to get a front row spot for the stage closer, Boys Noize. Cue sick banging techno set.


Day one also sees what is maybe the most popular arena, the A-Trak curated Fool’s Gold Clubhouse tent. If you are looking for shenanigans, this is where you need to be. Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, a Brooklyn bred sick-with-it MC, does the majority of his set off the stage. Being a huge fan of hip-hop, the likes of eXquire, Action Bronson and Danny Brown on the tent line-up is sweetness to witness.


Both A-Trak and Craze bring turntablism to life in the tent as well, Craze being the reigning king of the scratch according to the Fool’s Gold chief and, well, the entire underground scratch world. While the crowd seem a touch confused during A-Trak’s set, all of us in the back have that giddy “oh shit” reaction as he drops one of the summer’s hottest tracks, Salva and RL Grime’s remix of Kanye’s ‘Mercy’. Everyone else is able to figure themselves out after that. The tent is busting at the seams toward the end, jumping in unison to another sick performance by A-Trak, who has a secomd set awaiting him on day two. You can’t ever get too much of a good thing.


Meanwhile, across town, Gesaffelstein is going on the HARDer Stage. This is some serious futuristic beat-dropping, with melodic breaks before steady bass


The bass might have been lower than a snake’s belly, but with everything from p-funk to indie-electro on the menu, HARD Summer Festival 2012 proved that it’s no one-trick pony...


erupts the crowd into a frenzy. Unfortunately Brodinksi, Gesaffelstein’s partner in their Bromance project (see DJ Mag USA 02), has had to cancel his appearance due to Visa issues.


Red Bull Music Academy has its own stage-de-badassness featuring Breakbot, Chromeo and the incomparable Bootsy Collins closing out the show. HARD funk? Yes, and it totally works. With a majority of the rave fanatics listening to Boys Noize on the main stage, those listening to Bootsy at 1:30 in the morning are all about the get-down. It’s amazing to be able to jump between both sets, the beauty of the festival formula.


With a slight ringing in our ears (we forgot our earplugs, which festival organizers have handy for anyone interested), we make sure to arrive early to catch two performances before sundown on day two. The first is The Starship Connection’s future funk set, a synthesizers+bass+vocals performance which is fucking awesome. The crowd is minimal, as is the case with most early slots, which is truly a shame. Craze, who is a master at his craft, also played to a small crowd the day before. It’s a head- scratcher, but regardless, both deliver some never-before heard stylings to please any music connoisseur.


We also catch A-Trak, just to compare to last night’s performance. Again, he delivers some sick tracks and closes with a fan fave, his Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ ‘Heads Will Roll’ remix. Directly after that on the HARD Stage is Squarepusher. There’s lots of hype about his performance so we grab a beer and stay to check what he’s serving up. The accompanying LED show


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behind him is impressive, although the sounds might be a little experimental for this crowd. People start dispersing rather quickly, but we stay long enough to catch him grab his bass and bring some live instrumentation to the situation, pretty impressive with the LED-clad helmet he wears. Props.


On the HARDer stage, hometown heroes Gaslamp Killer and 12th Planet merk it back-to-back to all kinds of hometown love. GLK works a ton of new Flying Lotus music into his set, intertwined with some West Coast favorites that have the crowd hollering “ohhhhh haaaayyyyy” in unison, while 12th Planet has some dubstep going on, but surprisingly not that much. Trap seems to be the name of the game, complimenting GLK’s set nicely. We have to dip out though, as both Justin Martin and Alvin Risk are performing on the other end of the park. The first time we caught Alvin Risk live


Photos: ERIK VOAKE


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