Set against the backdrop of DTLA and nestled next to the outskirts of Chinatown, this year’s edition of HARD Day of the Dead brought out revelers who still had enough energy after Thursday’s Halloween parties and Escape: Psycho Circus in San Bernardino.
Though there was general exhaustion in the air in the afternoon, bass artist Softest Hard injected some energy into the crowd with her mix of psytrance, dubstep and early 2000s throwbacks. The masked midtempo wizard 1788-L followed up, unleashing his glitch-filled madness upon everyone in attendance.
With the sun setting and eager fans filling in the Los Angeles State Historic Park, the festival started to take off in full force. Melé brought the funk at the Domo stage overlooking the Downtown LA skyline, tastefully mixing his style of tech and groovy, tribal house to shuffling enthusiasts and all entering the festival.
Korean-American producer TOKiMONSTA‘s legion of fans came out in droves to catch her hip-hop and trap-leaning set, which was accompanied by powerful trippy visuals now that the sun finally had set. She also sprinkled in some house, which was being masterfully provided by the Dirtybird mainstay Justin Martin simultaneously at the other side of the festival. Bringing up the energy with his driving tech house tunes, he even surprised fans by tossing in some drum and bass to mix it up for the house savvy crowd.
Much of the festival’s hype became realized once ZHU came out as his darker house and techno alias Blacklizt. The mysterious producer brought his cherished deep and promiscuous after-hours vibe, matching the mood of the holiday festivities well. His signature black and white aesthetic covered the screens and even brought a group of mannequins on stage during stage transitions.
However, when it was time for power duo Skrillex and Boys Noize as to come on Dog Blood, nothing came close in comparison. The synergy between the two creates a beautifully sinister aesthetic that works perfectly for peak hour performances, much to the pleasure of the packed crowd. Over and over, we were hit with adrenaline-fueled tracks ranging from hard house to grimey hip-hop edits that kept the energy up from start to finish.
HARD DOTD started a bit tired, as a lot of us were from two weekends of Halloween debauchery. But once the music got in full swing, we picked up right where we left off and danced to another year of beloved, costumed rave memories.