As the sun beat down hard upon The Speedway In Fontana, tens of thousands of attendees poured into the gates. The temperature was expected to max out at over 100 degrees across the weekend, but that wasn’t going to stop anyone from getting down. HARD Summer was boasting one of the biggest lineups all year for a two-day festival, and we sent it to California to check out how it would all unfold.
The programming made it an easy decision to attend. Some of our all time favorites like Kid Cudi, RL Grime, and Justin Martin were obvious selling points for us, as well as rare b2b performances like ZHU b2b Tchami, A-Trak b2b YehMe2, Anti Up (Chris Lake b2b Chris Lorenzo), Excision b2b NGHTMRE and many more.
Upon getting the lay of the land of the HARD Summer site, I was grateful that they pulled out all the stops to ensure their attendees stayed cool. They had dozens of misting fans spread out across the venue, and even an entire covered strip called Shady Lane that had even more misters to mitigate the lengthy walk between stages. By the time the sun went down at around 8:00 PM, the heat dissipated and it turned into a very comfortable evening.
Being the house head that I am, I began the first day in the Pink Tent, where I caught one of our favorite South Africans, Kyle Watson, throw an absolute belter of a set with extreme precision and high energy. He was followed by house and techno demigod Loco Dice, who sped up the tempo and had the crowd raging to some proper tech groovers.
It was a tough call to choose between Anti Up and Kid Cudi, but after spending nearly four straight hours at the Pink Tent, I made my way over the main stage to see what type of spectacle Kid Cudi was about to put on. Right off the bat he came out with immense energy and a massive smile on his face. I’ve seen Mr. Rager perform a couple of times in the past, but never with such vitality and spirit. He performed the hell out of his new tracks and old, and it was an experience I definitely will not forget. The production of the larger stages at HARD was absolutely mesmerizing.
For day two I had plans to venture off to check out some of the other stages, but I had to make a brief return to to the Pink Tent to catch one of HARD’s no-doubter favorites, Justin Martin, who had the place dripping in sweat with his bass heavy house tracks. My most anticipated b2b set of the weekend was ZHU b2b Tchami, and with the pair taking the main stage right after J-Mart, I rushed over to grab a good spot.
The two have somewhat similar styles, but I was very pleasantly surprised to hear them play a mostly dark techno set as the sun went down behind them. ZHU has been rinsing his techno edits of his original tracks for his Blacklizt project, and it appeared that Tchami hopped on that train with some dark and driving edits of his own.
Next up was Soulja Boy over at the Purple Tent, but the crowd over there was so massive that it was hard to even get a glimpse of what was going on on stage. People really showed out for his set. I stuck around for a bit afterwards to get a dose of ridiculously hard rap bangers from one of the hottest producers in the game, Kenny Beats.
Topping off the night and closing out the festival was LA’s hometown hero RL Grime, who took the HARDer Stage at 10:00pm. With one hour to work with, RL rinsed edits of his newer tracks with his signature flair, mixing up to four tracks together at once. RL may be known as the king of trap, but the way he was able to transition between genres was flawless.
I walked away from HARD with a renewed appreciation for large scale festivals. I mostly frequent smaller boutique festivals, but I forgot how much I enjoyed the all-out exhibitions of a main stage event: pyrotechnics, fireworks, confetti, CO2 cannons, all with sound that is loud enough to shake the hairs on your head.
A big thank you and shout out to HARD for having us. If you’re interested in checking out their next event, HARD Day Of The Dead, follow this link here for more information.