Hi there, kids. If you didn’t know, one of the largest Halloween festivals in America, HARD’s Day of the Dead, just wrapped up this past weekend and I’m here to give you a firsthand review of what went down in Pomona.
I am a 29 year old male. I did not show up to Hardfest in fuzzy boots ready to get my PLUR on. I did not spend my evening at the main stage twerking to Diplo with my betches. If that’s what you came for please skip ahead to the next article (but still, good on you for reading).
This year’s Halloween edition of Hardfest was stacked with superstar talent (see: deadmau5 b2b Eric Prydz), but certainly wasn’t afraid to showcase some up and coming artists that are rising outside of the bigroom electro set. I had a chance to see a range of styles throughout the night and will cover some of the highlights below.
ZHU is a newcomer to the electronic scene, and is bringing some much needed rhythm to the table with his deeper, sexier, but still commercially accessible sound. This was his first ever performance in the United States, and it didn’t disappoint.
Part of the lure of ZHU is that nobody really knows who he is. No flash… very little social media presence… he just kind of showed up out of nowhere. And his performance stayed true to that reputation. The set was smooth, groovy, and he even tossed in a brand spankin’ new Thriller remix as skeletons danced across the giant LED screens behind.
Overall the visual effects were kept fairly minimal, and I’m certain many overstimulated EDM fans complained about it. But I think those are missing the point of this type of music. He gave a great performance and it was a solid first step into the American festival scene. More to come from this guy, I’m sure of it.
I had the pleasure of seeing Gesaffelstein Live in Los Angeles earlier in the year and it was one of the best concerts I’ve been to in a while. His style of dark, industrial techno certainly isn’t for everyone, but the show and the ambiance around it make for a really unique experience. When I saw him added to the lineup (on Halloween, no less) I did a little touchdown dance in excitement.
The set fittingly took place at one of the indoor stages near the back of the fairplex. It was essentially a gigantic empty airline hangar, nearly pitch black, and jam packed with rowdy techno fans. The beats came aggressive, driving, and creepy as all hell as the mad scientist looking producer banged away on the decks and chain smoked likely a carton of cigarettes.
The crowd was shockingly large for what I thought was a relatively unknown DJ. And it appeared to be mostly fans, with only a sprinkling of EDM kids who mistakenly wandered in from the Hard stage and were promptly scarred for life. A+ to the Frenchman.
deadmau5 b2b Eric Prydz
As much as I love underground house, I will forever have a soft spot for deadmau5, one of the first live DJs I ever saw and an all-around musical genius. Say what you want about his off the stage antics, the guy can produce. And seeing him teamed up with another dance legend, Eric Prydz, is an opportunity you don’t pass up.
The musical styles of these two producers, while very different, match up incredibly well. Both have an ability to cross genres from progressive to electro, from techno to trance, and everything in between. Despite some apparent miscommunication between the two, the set seemed extremely well done and the two blended together seamlessly. You would think these guys tour together all the time.
Prydz primarily stuck to his unique variety of dramatic, long build progressive house. The mau5 kept it mostly old school with his classic brand of bass heavy Nintendo infused electro. Pepper in some new remixes, acapellas, and some silky smooth mau5/Pyrdz crossovers and you have yourself quite the impressive set. If you missed it you can listen to a low quality recording on SoundCloud, but I won’t post a link since it sounds like someone recorded it on their phone from the parking lot and you’ll only be disappointed. Tracklist here: https://edm.com/blog/eric-prydz-deadmau5-hard-day-of-the-dead-set
Dear God what went wrong here… I left the deadmau5 & Prydz set early to go see Jamie Jones in the same dungeon where Gesaffelstein had played earlier. Expecting to walk into a slamming party filled with funk infused bass-heavy beats, I died a little inside when I found myself in a nearly empty (and QUIET) room. What the fuck happened? A blown subwoofer? I was basically inside the speaker before I could hear the bass was expecting (sorry I never called you back babe, things are getting kinda serious with the sub at Coachella).
I’m still not certain if there was an issue with the sound system, or if my ears were permanently damaged from the last time I saw him at DC-10 in Ibiza… but my high expectations were quickly turned into disappointment. C’mon Hardfest… this is why we can’t have nice things.