HARD Summer Saturday: Disclosure, Dog Blood, TNGHT, and Flying Lotus galvanize tenants of quality dance music
LA electronic music fans descended upon downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, ready to experience the sights and sounds of HARD Summer. Providing music that could attract ears of all types, from deep house to techno to electro to dubstep and back, the twelve hour event provided a well-curated display of the current pulse of dance music. Click through to read more about the moments that will be cemented in our minds.
Following a bumping set by Bones on the Summer Stage, Daniel Avery’s HARD Stage set was the early spot to be. The black-clad English DJ/producer unloaded a set of otherworldly techno that treaded the line between dissonant and digressive, featuring edgy modulated synth tones and subversively catchy rolling bass lines.
An impenetrable throng of fans swarmed the Underground Stage for English duo Disclosure’s highly anticipated live set. The Lawrence brothers pleased the crowd proper, playing most of their popular hits off of Settle interspersed with improvisational instrumental breakdowns. After kicking off their performance with unsurprisingly energetic performances of “F For You” and “When a Fire Starts to Burn,” a visibly flushed Guy and Howard guided the massive crowd through a rollicking jam session before a seamless transition into “White Noise” sent the eager onlookers into hysterics. We’ve been to a lot of festival tents, but few went off in the way the Underground Tent did for these boys.
Dog Blood took the stage minutes before sunset, drawing a sizable crowd to the HARDER stage. The duo did not disappoint. Opening with a mix of their unreleased “Middle Finger 2” with The M Machine’s remix of “Middle Finger,” Dog Blood elicited a welcoming response from the crowd. The exciting collaborative project between Skrillex and Boys Noize continued to rip through techno, trap, and house for the next hour, dropping unreleased Dog Blood originals like “Abuse,” “Next Order 2,” and the tentatively titled “Kill Em’ (With the Beat).” The set covered a staggering amount of sonic ground, incorporating acid elements alongside reggae dub cuts and trap-inspired breakdowns. Often taking to the mic to excite and thank the crowd, Skrillex seemed to especially enjoy the artistic freedom allotted by the relatively stripped down set, a far cry from the massive Mothership production he has grown accustomed to playing within.
With the dawning of the night, HARD Summer Day 1 took on a heavier edge. Over on the Summer Stage, Kill the Noise was gearing up for an hour and a half set of relentless dubstep, trap, and virulent bass music. With an impressive pace of tracks and not a hitch in his mixing, KTN displayed plenty of his own originals like “Rockers,” “Mosh Pit,” and the haunting “Black Magic Pt. 2” while blasting heady selections like Sub Focus’s VIP of “Falling Down,” Brown & Gammon’s remix of “Dying,” and TC’s “Get Down Low.” The Meowski666 collaborator even dropped “Meow Machine.”
Simultaneously, Britain-based producer duo TNGHT was throwing down a raw and engaging set on the HARDER stage, combining left-field electronica elements with broken beat rhythms to ensnare many a passerby. Their set reached a peak of sonic energy during “Higher Ground,” a progressive trap number that sounds something akin to a dinosaur marching band.
Unsurprisingly, Knife Party drew the biggest crowd of the night, as the main stage filled with thousands of individuals harkening for Rob and Gareth’s calculated mayhem. While the duo began their set as expected with some thumping house tracks like GTA & Diplo’s “Boy Oh Boy” and Daddy’s Groove & Dino Lenny’s “Walking On Air,” they showed their appreciation for the softer side of dance music with Audien’s “Iris.” A bit disappointingly, the main stage sound system suffered from technical difficulties throughout Knife Party’s set, as the audio output dipped and resurged sporadically.
Meanwhile, Flying Lotus enthralled the HARDER stage faithful by elevating them on a cosmic musical journey through his tripped-out melodic tracks set against a backdrop of superlative visuals. The engaging artist ducked out from behind the decks to banter with the crowd and throw down some Captain Murphy rap verses as well, providing perhaps the biggest onstage personality that Day 1 could lay claim to. It was only fitting that the Los Angeles native channeled early influence Snoop Dogg on an energetic encore that elicited cheers from even the most spaced out members of the audience.
Back in the Underground Tent, Julio Bashmore set the scene for the rest of the night, with Alex Metric playing an especially aggressive set perfectly tuned for a warehouse rave setting. The Twitter-verse told us that he almost missed his set (due to travel issues), but by the time he arrived to the decks, it was clear his apparent close call only served as more of a motivation to bring the heat. The Oliver duo were tasked with closing out the only covered stage of the four at HARD and combining their funky, disco, electro and house leanings with bigger techno basslines to fit to the peaktime festival vibes.
Mike Sundius, Matt Medved, and Cara Daley contributed to this post.