HARD Summer '16 / by Julia Walck

You guys, I survived my first electronic music festival. 

HARD Summer was last weekend at the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California in Fontana. Where's that, you ask? Basically the middle of nowhere. 

I won tickets through work and thought, "yeah this is close enough to home, let's just drive each day"... that was my first mistake.


A drive that should have only be an hour and a half somehow took us 3 hours. The line to get in had four layers of line: Flashing your tickets/IDs to workers, having your ID physically scanned, security check, and scanning the barcode on your ticket.

For starters, um wristbands would've been helpful here. Also, how about investing in more shade structure for the 98 degree weathered lines instead of having a massive TV with a stupid video of Diplo playing on a loop?

Anyways, we finally got in, and made it for Anderson .Paak's final song. Then we waited until Ice Cube and Pretty Lights as there wasn't anyone we wanted to see in between.

Let's just say Saturday involved A LOT of drinking. 

There was this really sad moment when we were walking around, probably an hour-ish into the day where I took a step and my foot stuck on the hot asphalt. I felt a pull. Stopping, I looked down to see the tiny heel of my glittery disco shoes melted on the ground. 

Not like "Wizard of Oz"-witch-melty, but I mean it was so hot that it melted the adhesive apart; the thing that held my shoes together. I picked it up, put it in my bag and kept on trekking. Dancing off balance throws you off a bit. 

Pretty Lights put on an awesome show, with you guessed it, a massive amount of pretty lights. We were probably 3 rows back from the front for most of the show, then the pit got to be a bit too much to handle so Denise and I back-tracked. Pretty cool to see his set from close up and afar. Look at that gif though... 

Since Pretty Lights closed out the festival on Saturday night, that meant we left when everyone else did.

HARD really made it hard on us getting out of there. For the entire speedway there was only one exit which was very poorly manned with staff. The entire process of walking to our car / sitting in our car in a line waiting to get out took an hour and a forty-five minutes. Luckily, we made it to In-N-Out before it closed.


On Sunday we left around 11:30am to avoid a repeat of Saturday. There was even enough time to grab a cold brew and some grub at The Combine Kitchen before heading to the festival. 

We parked in a nearby neighborhood and walked over this time, thinking we were being super smart. 

The line to get into the festival was even longer than Saturday's and so much more unorganized. After an hour of waiting in line to get into HARD, we filled up our waters at a water station and headed over to Bixel Boys.

I remember seeing them on my 21st birthday play with Digitalism and thought hey, why not check 'em out here? After listening to a loop of "eat sleep rave repeat" we knew it was time to move on to something else. 

Bob Moses was up next. He had one of the smallest crowds of anyone we saw (maybe because he had actual instruments there), but was one of the best performances of the weekend. I highly suggest you go listen to "Tearing Me Up" right now. 

Denise wanted to check out Fat Joe so we made our way over to the HARD stage. He would play a bit of a song and people would start to get into it... and suddenly cut to something else after thirty seconds or a minute. I guess only having a thirty minute set you try to pack as much into it as possible, but come on. 

I did our makeup on Saturday with some heart gems and rainbow glitter, but Sunday got WAY more intense. Lucky for us, confetti and glitter are easy to come by in my apartment. Surprisingly, this stayed all day in the hot, hot heat. My friend turned me on to this special FX adhesive which is perfect for festival glitz, called Ben Nye Spirit Gum. Just make sure to get the remover, too! 

We hung back at AlunaGeorge and afterwards got some veggie noodles and pizza. 

Then came the best part of the festival: Kaytranada. 

DJ Mustard was playing at the Purple Stage right before him, so we inched our way up while people were filing out to go see Major Lazer. Our tactic, go to the side and get as far front as you can, then work your way to the middle, worked and we were front and center. There was so much bass and we were so close to the speaker that the water bottles on the ground were being thrown around by the pulse. 

I've been obsessed with Kaytranada's most recent album, 99.9% ever since it came out in early May; dancing to it live was amazing! 

I was watching some videos of his performance back on YouTube and found Denise and myself dancing in this video at 0:28, 1:49 and 2:45. 

Leaving the festival meant once again joining in on the herd of people filing out. We walked for literally an entire hour before we got to our car. A total of 13 miles for the day. Wow.

Parking in a nearby neighborhood helped with the fact we didn't have to wait bumper to bumper leaving the lot. However, we were unaware of the massive amounts of road closures in our path. We had to backtrack about 3 miles so we could go onto another freeway entrance. 

Around 2am we got home; I showered because I felt disgusting, and then knocked out in bed. Work the day after a festival is always fun!

Overall, I'm glad I got to experience HARD. It was worth it for the bands I got to see, but I would never willingly pay for an EDM festival ticket. 

I think I'll stick to my indie tunes.