HARD Events just threw the biggest festival in SoCal this summer, delivering improvements, a stunning lineup, and more at the Auto Club Speedway!
Last weekend thousands of attendees trekked down to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana for the latest edition of HARD Summer Music Festival. The large “Summer Is Here” banner that’s visible upon entry captures the essence of the massive festival. It was clear that people came to party hard and listen to the best in the realms of hip-hop and electronic music. And that was the real feel of the fest: people gathering for a carefree weekend to enjoy themselves and the music.
Fans had the opportunity to headbang to bass music, groove to some house beats, bounce to some trap, or vibe with some hip-hop. While some braved the summer heat, others cooled off in shady lane, but nothing at HARD Summer felt overloaded or too played out this year. I loved the levels of diversity one could experience in this environment.
Related: Relive the moments from this year’s installment of HARD Summer with the live sets that have surfaced!
While the stages may have been toned down production-wise, HARD Summer put the diverse range of music offered front and center for attendees.
The Auto Club Speedway is a large venue, therefore HARD employed a wide layout and the stages were spaced out wide enough to feel less cramped. On the west end of the speedway stood the HARD Stage, a colossal sized main stage that which used symmetric vertical LED screens as its main design. Next to the HARD Stage stood the Pink Tent, that created a quasi-late ’90s rave atmosphere through its use of lasers, disco balls, and light installments that lined the sides of the tent.
Over on the east end of the speedway was the HARDer Stage, another enormous open-air stage that featured LED screens in the center and one each side of the stage, constructing a geometric pattern. Next to the HARDer Stage stood the Green Tent which was comprised of rectangular LED screens that traveled along the side of the stage before making a semi-circle around the center of the main deck. Finally, throughout the center of the Festival was the Purple Tent which was also LED screen heavy and the Corona Electric Beach Stage which had a mini paradise feel with sand and palm trees.
In the center of the festival stood four gargantuan letters, spelling ‘HARD’. The colorful letters dominated the skyline of the venue and made for the perfect photo opportunity for groups of friends. Also spanning the festival were flashy shade installations with multicolored tesseracts of tarps, adding more practical decor to the atmosphere.
Outside of the stages themselves, HARD Summer’s infrastructure proved that Insomniac heard the criticisms from last year.
The most notable improvement was the increased areas for shade this year. An elongated narrow tent titled ‘Shady Lane’ stretched almost the length of the festival! Shady Lane always had a constant stream of misters which helped fans cool down in the heat. At night, the continual flow of mist created a neat fog effect that matched the color of the lights of the ceiling of the tent.
Large shaded tarps stood on top of beams which flanked each side of the HARD and HARDer stages, giving fans yet another way to stay cool. The water station situation at a festival during this part of the year is crucial. Insomniac was ready to go and had three long and large stations sectioned off with rails to keep the lines moving and organized.
One of the biggest criticisms of HARD Summer last year was the dirt that carried up into the air as hordes of people walk the festival grounds. Dust can get in people’s eyes and noses, thus making one’s festival experience unpleasant. This year, they responded by adding green tarps to massive patches of land to curb dust flow, which served as a major improvement in keeping the dust down.
Heat and dust became distant and minuscule problems with Insomniac’s improvements this year, which is ultimately why my experience and that of many other’s was a positive one for the 2019 installment of HARD Summer.
The sun was the second hottest element of HARD Summer, the first being the lineup on Saturday that threw nothing but heaters!
Over at the Green Tent, Habstrakt played some top tier bass house, fusing originals with popular dubstep tracks, and even threw some new unreleased work. Over on the west end at the HARD stage, 4B and Flosstradamus took command of the crowd with dynamic b2b hard trap set and their mic presence was on point.
At nightfall, I caught What So Not’s brand new live show, which utilizes live drums, and guitar. Herizen came out as well to perform their collab “We Could Be Friends”. NGHTMRE and Excision created dubstep heaven with their set, forging each drop to be heavier than the last. Slander even came on stage for a mini Gud Vibrations appearance!
I closed out the night at the Pink Tent for Malaa b2b DJ Snake. Sadly the tent itself was simply not big enough as fans came out in droves making the crowd size so big that it was packed shoulder to shoulder far past the tent itself! Malaa and DJ Snake played a blend of gritty house before expanding out to other tunes as well, it was truly a rare and special set.
Sunday’s lineup featured household names who stole the spotlight with surprise appearance and monster track lists.
Ookay‘s set drew the fans to the main stage with his distinct future trap and future base synthesis. He’s a talented singer, drummer, and pianist, and the trio of dancers who performed alongside added an extra layer of amusement to the set. Gammer served as hardstyle’s faithful ambassador to HARD Summer, throwing down hardcore tracks that kept the crowd bouncing through the August heat.
My favorite set of the whole weekend was undoubtedly Tchami b2b Zhu at the HARD stage. Their set was dark and soulful and even tapped into some progressive house elements. Kayzo went back to his artist roots to mix more hardcore inspired drops into his set. Yultron, Ookay, and Dotcom joined Kayzo on stage for a surprise return of The Binches, which is huge considering how busy each of their schedules are!
RL Grime headlined the HARDer stage and performed from a raised platform that was rolled in just for his set. RL drops hit differently, they are epic and extraordinary. He’s mastered pacing his sets in a way that each individual drop sounds so fresh and legendary.
HARD Summer has lifted itself to become a true must-attend event in Southern California.
Looking back on the weekend all I have are positive memories from my experience at HSMF this year. The music was great, the infrastructure was improved, and the vibes were carefree. Of course, the weather is always going to be hot, the festival is set in inland Southern California after all, but as an attendee that was hardly on my mind really. I’m sure many other attendees that went felt the same way.
Year in and year out HARD Events delivers on talent and production to create a fantastic summer festival, and for many, it’s their final big event before starting the school year and the fall season. It’s a bit of a different vibe compared to other festivals with the inclusion of hip-hop and a daytime lineup, but I loved the change of pace and diversity.
This year’s edition of HARD Summer proves that Insomniac wants to make the best out of their events. It is clear that they’ll take the time and listen to feedback for modifications necessary to improve the overall fan experience, and for that I thank them. I can’t wait to see how this festival continues to grow in the future!