HARD Summer Music Festival Review

7 July 2019

My summer was filled with constant excitement and action, but not one activity can compare to the experience I had at my very first HARD Summer. HARD Summer is an annual two-day music festival that takes place the first weekend of August and features over 100 electronic and alternative acts and emerging DJs. All ages are welcome, but the majority of those that attend are young adults to mid twenties. This year’s headliners included Jack U, Dillon Francis, Disclosure, Flosstradamus, and A$AP Mob. In addition to those acts, some of my personal favorites included What So Not, The Chainsmokers, and Clockwork. This year, the festival was held at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. Music blasts nonstop from five different stages from 12pm to 11pm. People come from all over, some even by plane, to experience what it is that makes this sold out event so memorable.

I attended my first music festival, Coachella, this past April.

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It completely changed my experiences of how I perceive music. I believe there is something special festivals provide for you; they allow you to feel the music, to live vicariously through the music. So, you could say I’ve been a festival junkie ever since. At first, I had my doubts of attending the HARD Summer music festival because none of my best friends were going, and the HARD lineup featured exclusively electronic house music, not the diverse variety of artists like Coachella. But on August 1 (the day before HARD Summer), my friend called me saying that he’d found me a ticket on Craigslist and that all I to do was say that I was in. Unfortunately, since I decided so last minute, I was only able to buy a ticket for the first day of the festival, but that one day alone was one of the most memorable days of my life.

HARD Summer provided me with a different experience than that of Coachella; it provided me with a better experience. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every harmonious moment of Coachella, but HARD showed me a different kind of love. It taught me that it doesn’t matter what artist you’re listening to, how close you are to the stage, or even how hot and tired you are. I learned to love the moment I was in with the people I shared it with, even strangers. In fact it was the kindness and friendship of the strangers I met at the festival that showed me the true meaning of PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect) – a sort of chivalry used at these festivals, which ensures an enjoyable and memorable experience for all.I had a feeling of contentment throughout the entire day. This feeling reached its peak during the last set of the day (Jack U). As soon as their music started to blare throughout the crowd, almost simultaneously, it began to rain. I remember listening to the “Revolution” remix of Flux Pavilion’s “I Can’t Stop”, reaching my arms into the sky, and letting the rain fall all over me, as if it were falling to the beat of the music.

As I entered the festival, I went in with no expectations. I, of course, was an avid fan of a majority of the acts, but because my attendance was so spontaneous I never had the time to build up the hype and excitement for the festival. I think the fact that I had no expectations is what made my experience so incredible. I can still specifically remember around 8pm when Axwell started his set at the main stage (Hard Stage). To be honest, Axwell was not one of the DJs I’d come to see that day; I just ended up being at Hard Stage when his set began. Coincidentally, my group and I ran into about four other groups of people we knew; one of these groups included my older brother and his friends. Together we created a combined group of about 20. For the first and only time that day, it seemed like every single person I knew at the festival was unified and sharing the experience together. Personally, it was an extra special moment for me because I had the opportunity to share it with my brother. I closed my eyes and smiled as he laid his arm around me and we both soaked in the music together. Even though I never intended on seeing Axwell that day, he ended up being my favorite set of the entire day, not because of the music, but because of the experience.

HARD Summer to me was like a dirt wonderland, emphasis on the dirt. If I had to criticize one aspect of my overall experience, the only one that comes to mind is its inconvenient location.This is was the first (and hopefully only) time that the festival was held at Whittier Narrows. In years past, it’s always been held at LA Historic Park. This year’s location seemed a bit out of the way, and it was a project to get to and from the festival. Also, the land was nothing but dirt. This meant that for the majority of the day we were choking on dust kicked up by the feet of people dancing or jumping in the crowd. Nonetheless, this didn’t stop myself, or anyone else for that matter, from having the time of our lives. In the end, we embraced the dirt and kicked it into the air with satisfaction.

HARD Summer was an experience I will never forget. I recommend this festival to all, for it is one not to be missed. However, I will say that if you are not a fan of this style of music, then I do not recommend attending. HARD Summer teaches you a new appreciation for music and friends. I’m glad I made the rash decision of becoming a part of this historic event, and I cannot wait until next year’s festival.

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