Disclaimer: This is my first attempt at a musical review of a show or festival, so I WANT you to comment and let me know if there’s anything I can improve or just do differently. Please keep that in mind as you are reading along. Thank you.
The anticipation was killing me. I hadn’t been to a large show since Together as One on New Years. SEVEN months is a long time for someone who lives to see musical performances to go without one of this magnitude. Needless to say, it was hard to sleep the night before, staying at a friend’s house in Glendale. I actually drank some tequila… by myself, just so I could fall asleep easier. It didn’t help.
I woke up in the morning promptly at 9am, and didn’t know what to do with myself. So, I played video games with my friend’s siblings, chatted as long as I could bear about white water rafting with her parent’s, and then browsed the internet for news. Yeah, news. I had to get my mind off the show, because I wanted it to start NOW. I’ll spare you the details of the rest of the day, besides that my friends were dressed as a rave frog, a rave leopard, and a rave tiger, while I had a tie-dye tank and shorts on. We were ready to go at 5pm, and left the house at around 5:15pm to embark on the L.A. Metro that would bring us directly to the venue at L.A. State Historic Park.
When we arrived, I’m pretty sure there were more police and security then there were actual attendees of the event. But that lasted about 10 minutes. Soon, the sidewalks were packed with fellow ravers and the streets looked like a parking lot with cars attempting to find empty sidewalk spots and drop off more of the mob. We of course had to wait for my ticket to be brought to the venue by my friend Chelsea, because I had purchased it only the day before. Finally, at about 6:15pm, ticket in hand (chapstick in sock, since they don’t allow it), and kandi on my wrists, we got into the mass of people who comprised the line to get in.
After approximately a quarter-mile of shuffling feet and dust rising in the air from the grounds, we finally entered the park. While in line, I had discovered where Dillon Francis was playing, so I forced my group to head in that direction with only a stop at the bathrooms and the water tent briefly. We managed to catch Dillon’s last 2 songs… and for an up and coming artist, he was tearing it up. The crowd in front of the HARDER stage was still small at this point, but people were already raging; with the sun still up! Dillon received a rousing round of applause after melting our faces (at 7:15pm mind you) with his song Beautician 2.0. I have to say, after seeing just those 2 songs, I’m very excited to see his full set when he opens for Dev in SLO.
Next up was a Moombahton duo known as Nadastrom. They brought a different feel to the show with their slower paced, but extremely bass heavy set. I literally felt my leg hairs shaking from the pressure being distributed by the subwoofers. For those who have heard Moombahton, it’s more of a funky feel than most electronica, but it sends out good vibes, and gets the crowd grooving. We didn’t stay long, maybe 3 or 4 songs, before we decided to head out and explore the park grounds. After all, there were three more stages to see!
As we ambled on, we heard the eerie and dark sounds coming from the HARD stage, that could only be Gaslamp Killer. It brought a different feel to the event; more of a mellow vibe, but it was a nice addition. Next we came to the DFA Tent, where upon entering, we were immediately entranced by the up tempo yet heavy beats coming from the stage. Upon seeing the DJ, I was quite taken aback, because the man looked about 50 years old. He goes by The Shit Robot Show, but he was anything but. Before the party really even got started, this guy had us getting down to the simplistic yet catchy beats and creative synths he was rocking. We didn’t stay long here either, as my friend Heather was dead set on meeting up with her friends she had met at Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas.
So, we stood, and people watched, and just enjoyed the pleasant cacophony of heavy bass coming from HARDER, hip hop flows coming from HARD, and the electronic vibes coming from DFA (we actually never made it to the Summer Stage). Soon enough, at nightfall, we finally found our ‘rave family,’ and embarked on our mission to the HARD stage, to see the one and only Ratatat.
If you’ve never heard Ratatat, their sound is unlike any other. They involve a mixture of guitar riffs, synths, and other live instruments, and their genre is hard to nail down. Some tracks sound like hip-hop, while others could classify as EDM, and still others could honestly be considered rock. It’s a unique experience to say the last, and man, do they put on a show. Their presentation is honestly a little strange, because they involve light shows, playing live instruments, and video clips; from movies, commercials, etc. It’s a very enthralling experience, and one I am very glad to say I’ve had (also because I’ve been a fan of Ratatat for years).
At this point, we had made the commitment to stay locked in at the HARD stage, because the lineup was too exquisite to miss. Next up after Ratatat was a duo I had never seen, that rocked the house down. Chromeo, as you may have seen in my Artist of the Week post, is also a live performance group, that plays guitars, synths, have live vocals, and one man on the talk box. I relate them most closely to 80′s funky disco music, but they are oh so much more. The feeling you get when listening to Chromeo is pure bliss, and it’s almost impossible to stop your hips from swaying, and grabbing the closest person of the opposite sex (or same sex for some), and just BOOGYING. It was so much fun, and they even involved a little humor and had crowd interaction, which I really enjoyed.
All of a sudden, there was a huge change of pace… but not in a negative way at all. For me, it was my favorite performance of the night (although it is VERY hard to say that, because they were all so good), but it was none other than DUCK SAUCE. Most of you, hopefully, have heard the song Barbara Streisand, and if you haven’t, I have attached the video from the show at the bottom of the page. Duck Sauce was such a great performance for three main reasons: they are duo of the most talented actual disc scratchers I have ever seen; they are purely masters of their art. They are so comfortable up on stage and know exactly what the other is going to do at all times. They knew their music so well, when beats were going to drop, everything. That leads me to the music. Duck Sauce has a unique style that no one else can replicate. They have choruses that just get the crowd up and jumping around, and usually singing. The duo samples a lot of vocals for their choruses (and even a wolf howl for The Big Bad Wolf), and it’s just too much fun. Then their beats absolutely blow your mind; they’re creative, and complicated, and always keep you guessing. When you factor in the disc scratching, it’s a killer combination. The third reason they were so much fun was because they were having an absolute blast on stage. You can just tell they love what they are doing and they love the crowd. It doesn’t get any better than that.
And then for the closing act (that I saw); Boys Noize. I had heard some of his stuff before, and had actually really enjoyed it. But, listening to him on your iPod is NOTHING like seeing him live. I literally felt possessed by this artist’s music. I had been dancing for about 6 and half hours straight now, and was EXHAUSTED. It didn’t matter, the thundering beats, explosive bass, and hypnotizing synths and especially the lights just forced me to keep going. I felt like I was a zombie, forced to stay there and listen to his music for eternity. But it was a pleasant zombie-esque experience. Towards the end of the set, though, he started dropping some of the heaviest music I had ever heard. I thought the sky was going to rip open from the pressure he was displacing among the crowd. Not a single person was standing; they were all rocking their bodies to the music. Quite honestly, I’ve never seen a show like that, and don’t know if I will again. The best part: his encore song was none other than a remix of the famous track Zombie Nation. It was true in every sense.
What a show. I’ve been to Together As One, I’ve been to Monster Massive, I’ve been to Electric Daisy Carnival. None of those brought me closer to the music, and to the people around me, as HARD Summer 2011 did. If you haven’t seen any of these artists, make sure you do, because they will not let you down. Do you know where you’re going to be at the beginning of August next year? I do. Hope to see you there.
Duck Sauce: Barbara Streisand