7 sets that surprised at HARD Summer 2014
7 sets that surprised at HARD Summer 2014
Los Angeles is still recovering from the raucous two-day blowout that was HARD Summer. Gary Richards has already established the fact that he can book one mean party, delivering one of the most eclectic lineups of the year, but nobody knew just how deep the diversity ran until this past weekend. Marquee headliners like Tiësto, Skrillex, Diplo, Axwell and Disclosure drew massive crowds, however there is something to be said about some of the names further down the festival’s enormous roster. The colossal new venue at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area gave fans enough elbow room to boogie down, while each of HARD’s five stages featured its own flavorful collection of talent. With a well-rounded mix of veteran and new artists, and underground and mainstream acts, there was easily a sound for everyone at this year’s LA production. In no particular order, we present to you seven of the most underrated and pleasantly surprising sets from HARD Summer 2014.
Michael Sundius contributed to this article
Collar-clad Frenchman Tchami commanded HARD’s Pink Tent during a Saturday sunset time slot, delivering a genre-bending mix of his self-dubbed “future house” sound. Having emerged on the scene last year, the Parisian Fool’s Gold recruit has been steadily gaining momentum all year long, eventually culminating in June, at Red Rocks Amphitheatre as he opened for Skrillex in the final Mothership Tour show. The show Tchami put on underneath the Pink Tent, however, was a tremendously pleasing surprise, vastly outdoing his Red Rocks performance. The tracks at some points were so deep you could hardly distinguish the techno from the hip-hop, though each song was marked by Tchami’s futuristic soundscapes. From AC Slater‘s groovy remix of David Heartbreak‘s “Rebel” to Tchami’s own “Shot Caller” to House of Pain’s infectious hip-hop classic “Jump Around,” Tchami fearlessly cruised between tempos and genres to procure one of the best sets of the weekend.
2. Hannah Wants
If you aren’t familiar with many of the ladies representing dance music in today’s scene, Hannah Wants is a name you need to know. Bringing her own distinct, tastefully hard-hitting, deep brand of UK house music to Los Angeles, Hannah Wants delivered a throbbing one-two punch set. Rocking through the middle of the afternoon in the farthest corner of Whittier Narrows, Ms. Wants threw an absolute party as constituents hunkered down low, jumped up high, and turned the Green Tent into a pulsing sauna of sweat-drenched fans. Although Hannah’s set was regrettably under-attended, everyone who was her stage knows that her bout from the decks was definitely an impressive showcase to say the least.
3. Wax Motif
It’s no secret that Australia is turning out some of the brightest artists in the dance music world right now. One act overlooked among the Aussie representatives at this year’s HARD Summer was Wax Motif. Wax warmed up the Green Tent just prior to Hannah Wants’ time slot, with a head-spinning set stocked full of thumping remixes and his own exotic meshing of dark house sounds and hip-hop. Deep, gurgling techno beats were laced with heavy, jaw-dropping edits of crowd pleasers like his “My N***a,” collaboration remix with Destructo, and of course his famed “Go Deep.” Wax’s stage presence also warrants noteworthy praise, as he kept the crowd engaged the whole time, and seemed to be having just as much fun as the rest of the people under the steaming Green Tent. Serving as a fresh departure from the expected Australian sound that is becoming increasingly more popular this year, Wax Motif lit up the Green Tent and left it all at the decks.
4. Sub Focus
Among the colossal list of heavyweight performers on the lineup, Sub Focus was easily one of the more unsung acts at this year’s HARD event. The UK-bred veteran held down the towering HARDer Stage with excellent presence and striking energy behind his CDJs. An electrified mass of kandi-clad fans kicked up monumental dust clouds as everyone reciprocated that energy back at Sub Focus, feverishly shuffling and bouncing as the speakers burst out gushing waves of wobble. From grimy electro-house edits to thick drum n’ bass cuts, Sub Focus played the jams everyone wanted to hear. Highlights included a head-splitting remix of Nero‘s “Wont You Be There” as well as his famed “Hold On” remix and Birdy Nam Nam‘s “Goin’ In.” Sub Focus pulled out all the stops on Sunday to deliver a rowdy and surprisingly gripping performance.
There’s a seemingly unstoppable wave of UK bass emanating from across the Atlantic, and at the head of the crest stands London-based duo Dusky. Back in 2012, the two delivered a standout Essential Mix, following up the next year with a Beatport #1 and plenty of critical acclaim. Now, in 2014, Dusky are an even hotter commodity. Currently ebbing off the success of their Love Taking Over EP, the duo took hold of the Pink Stage on Saturday and laid down one of the best sets of the weekend. With plenty of delectable tech house and techno in the mix, Dusky put on an exposé of warehouse DJing, laying down one ID after the next. Interspersed throughout the underground goodness, the two incorporated their hot originals like “Inta” and “Expectations.”
It’s safe to say that Gary Richards has the best job in the world. Aside from throwing some of the coolest festivals in North America, Richards performs at his various HARD events under the pseudonym Destructo. Having curated some of our favorite lineups over the past few years, it’s always been clear that Richards excels in his taste in music, yet Sunday proved it once and for all. Taking over the Green Tent, Destructo brought the burgeoning sounds of G-house to HARD. Sampling hip hop classics and merging them with dastardly basslines, Destructo’s set had an edgy tech house and techno flair. Ultimately, Richards has proven again that he is far more than one of our favorite festival producers, but one of our favorite DJs as well.
7. DJ Mustard
HARD Summer’s well rounded lineups always include notable hip-hop heavy-hitters. This year was no exception as LA’s own DJ Mustard contributed to the weekend’s festivities. While Disclosure graced the main stage with one of Sunday night’s final acts, Mustard was hosting his own rambunctious affair across the park. Swarms of fans flocked to Mustard’s Green Tent set as the hip-hop juggernaut spun some of his most notorious records. Mustard humbly admitted on the mic that the dance music festival scene was new to him, but didn’t miss as beat as he jumped into a set jammed with rap’s biggest hits. From Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead” to Tyga’s inescapable “Rack City,” the crowd loved everything Mustard threw their way. Most commendably though, DJ Mustard did not compromise his style whatsoever. At a festival packed with artists showcasing methodically arranged sets, Mustard opted rather to unload radio jam after radio jam in a rapid-fire style of party-inducing mayhem. From bringing out fellow hip-hop enthusiast A-Trak on stage to closing out a boisterous performance with Jay Z’s “Tom Ford,” DJ Mustard was surprisingly one of the most memorable sets of the weekend.