Category: Hard fest

Nicki Minaj, Glen Campbell, Wilco among L.A.'s top summer concerts

Southern California’s summer pop music calendar includes Hard Summer, Make Music Pasadena and Rock the Bells festivals.

Images: Fiona Apple (Jack Plunkett / Associated Press) Nicki Minaj (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times); Maxwell (Sean Gardner / Getty Images)
Nicki Minaj. Skrillex. Glen Campbell’s goodbye tour. Wilco. Some big names in pop are coming to Southern California this summer, promising a decent warm-weather season and the extension of a concert year that already has promoters singing.

Last month, promotion giant Live Nation, which also operates Ticketmaster, reported a 6% increase in ticket sales for the first quarter of 2012 compared with the same period last year -- no doubt due to a spring that has seen Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, the Beach Boys and Roger Waters touring; the Beverly Hills-based company also just promoted three sold-out Coldplay shows at the Hollywood Bowl. With artists such as Justin Bieber and Madonna not making it out West until the fall, the year’s blockbuster tours would seem to conveniently miss L.A.’s summer months.

But music fans still have a lot to celebrate this summer.

The annual downtown dance event known as Hard Summer has expanded from one day to two, and the yet-to-be-announced rock-centric festival known as FYF, also downtown and produced by the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival promoter Goldenvoice, has also stretched from one to two days over Labor Day. A festival spokeswoman says to expect the lineup to be revealed by the end of this month. What’s more, the Dave Matthews Band, one of the concert industry’s biggest stars, will swing through Southern California in September.

Gary Bongiovani, editor of concert-tracking publication Pollstar, also notes that tours are maximizing value: “We’re seeing good solid three-act shows these days. One way to stand out of the fog is to combine and offer fans real value. We see Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez, Wisin Y Yandel. That’s a great tri-bill. In previous years, we may not have seen that combination of talent.”

Here’s a look at just a few of the big-name acts and can’t-miss shows coming to the L.A. this summer.

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Hard Summer books Skrillex, Miike Snow, Boys Noize, James Murphy

L.A.'s own Skrillex and Sweden's electro-poppers Miike Snow are among the many acts that will anchor the 2012 edition of the dance-focused Hard Summer, returning for the third year to the Los Angeles State Historic Park downtown. Reflecting the growth of electronic music and the strength of the festival market, Hard Summer will grow to two consecutive days this year, with opening night slated for Aug. 3.

Other artists set to appear at Hard Summer include Bloc Party, Boys Noize, Bloody Beetroots, Nero, James Murphy, Squarepusher and Bootsy Collins & the Funk Unity Band (full lineup below). Two-day passes are available and start at $119, not including surcharges. Last year's single-day Hard Summer was a sellout with 30,000 tickets sold.

Festival founder Gary Richards said ticket sales in 2012 are between five and 10 times greater than they were at this point last year. Capacity grew last year from about 25,000 to 30,000, and Richards did not yet have final word from the city on whether or not he could expect a similar growth this summer.

Richards said expanding to two days was a no-brainer. "It’s pretty logical to go from one day to two days," he said. "You have to build so much infrastructure –- the staging, the fencing and the power. If you put it all in there for one day, you may as well use it for another day."

It hasn't always been this easy for Richards and Hard Summer. The company is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, but just two years ago the event was caught up in the maelstrom that descended on electronic events in Los Angeles after things went haywire at 2010's Electric Daisy Carnival. Richards had hoped to stage two separate summer events at the park in 2010, but was forced to downsize to one. 

"It’s been a hot-button issue in the city for a long time," Richards acknowledged. "But I think with our operation, everyone likes working with us and we’ve come through on our end to make it as safe as can be."

The mainstream acceptance of electronic music seems to be accelerating at a rather rapid pace, thanks, in part, to Skrillex, who earned a Grammy nomination for best new artist. The recently concluded Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festivalin Indio has placed dance on equal footing with rock since the event's inception, and Swedish House Mafia was one of the mainstage headliners this year. Sunday, Coachella vet Kaskade announced he would be performing a July 27 date at Staples Center.

Despite the recent goodwill toward the electronic community, Richards isn't ready to relax. "Whenever we’re doing an event, we have to bring our A-game and everyone has to be prepared for anything that can happen," he said. "We can’t let down our guard. We don’t leave any stones unturned to try to keep this safe."  

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Fatboy Slim rides techno's second U.S. wave


In 2002, Norman Cook looked out on a jubilant throng of 250,000 dancers on a Brighton beach and feared the worst. The second of his Big Beach Boutique dance parties on the sand in the English resort town, under his Fatboy Slim moniker, had been expected to draw about 60,000. They got close to five times that many, in a setting nowhere near built to accommodate that many people.

"I was really scared, we were poised on the edge of disaster at that one," Cook said. They averted abject mayhem, but there was one death and traffic snarled the town until the next morning. Cook left thrilled by the show, but shaken by the fallout of it.

So it comes as a bit of redemption that, nine years later, he successfully exported the concept for well-received American Big Beach shows in Miami and Governor’s Island in New York City (previewed by an installment in Brazil that drew 360,000). Fifteen years after his commercial big-beat breakthrough "Better Living Through Chemistry," the pioneer of the first wave of techno embraced by the American mainstream has stayed at the forefront of the second, underscored by his headlining set at HARD Haunted Mansion on Friday night.

He’s stayed exceedingly popular as a DJ (headlining Coachella's dance tent in 2008) even as it’s been seven years since he’s released a proper pop album in the spirit of his '90s records that made singles like "The Rockafeller Skank" and "Praise You" utterly inescapable. Intriguing diversions, such as his band-oriented Brighton Port Authority project and his 2010 rock-opera song cycle with David Byrne, "Here Lies Love," (about Imelda Marcos, the former Philippine first lady with a famous shoe indulgence) let him stretch his legs a bit in an unexpected setting.

"When one of your all-time musical heroes turns up and asks to work together, you say 'Yes,' " Cook said. "But a 22-song cycle about Imelda Marcos wasn’t something I expected."

But with more than 70 shows in 2011, it’s been the most frantic year behind the decks in his career, with major Ibiza and Detroit Electronic Music Conference shows as highlights. But while he made his reputation in the '90s for soul-steeped big beat (and idiosyncratic videos such as Spike Jonze’s’ "Weapon of Choice," in which Christopher Walken famously climbed the walls), he’s begun tweaking sets to the expectations and possibilities in this late-aughts genre resurgence in the American mainstream.

Just last year, he made the switch from his longtime weapon of choice, good old vinyl, to the digital-mixing program Serato to better incorporate his mixes with the visuals expected at festivals such as HARD. These days, it’s a live performance that has to induce the ecstasy.

"Before I could never sync the visuals to the music. Now we’ve written a whole story out on screen," Cook said. "There’s so much more of a visual impact, and I’m still physically mixing. Now the production technology is cheaper and techno makes for a better live show. Have you seen Amon Tobin’s sets? It’s like being inside a 3-D movie."

Far from any Old-Guard curmudgeonliness, Cook has embraced the populism and trappings of techno’s second honeymoon in the States. He even made a pass through a Vegas residency at Marquee, a week he described as "…Interesting. It’s billed as the Ibiza of the Midwest and I’m not so it’s quite as loved-up [as] that. But a Vegas pool party was a box I hadn’t checked, we spun inside the pool and I got to flex some new muscles."

But as he sees it, the big difference in this wave is in nationality -– a continental shift in sound that might make him even a bit of an underdog behind the decks.

"From my point of view, the first wave was very English-driven," he said. "Now it’s a Frenchman [David Guetta], now it’s a Dutchman [Tiesto] and a very Euro sound. But I’ve always loved the underground, and today you have to be savvy and maintain a relationship with fans. It’s just a different set of skills today."


Dance Music grooves to the fore

Gary Richards readies HARD Haunted Mansion

Citing increased security requirements, HARD LA 2010 cancelled

-- August Brown

Photo: Norman Cook, a.k.a. Fatboy Slim. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

Gary Richards readies electronic music party Hard Haunted Mansion

Fatboy Slim, Soulwax and more will perform at Shrine Expo Hall for this weekend’s event. The promoter talks about the thriving electronic music scene.

This post has been updated. See below for details.

DJ and Hard founder Gary Richards threw the first Hard dance party at a downtown L.A. warehouse on his birthday on New Year’s Eve 2007. It was the natural extension of his productions in the early ’90s, when he was doing A&R for Rick Rubin at Def American and when his parties drew Robert Downey Jr., Madonna, Björk and other celebs. But that New Year’s Eve party was the first tremor of a massive tectonic shift in music culture that has since shown Richards to be something of a visionary on the electronic music scene.

He now produces the New Year’s party, Hard Summer, Hard NYC, all manner of other Hard one-offs like the upcoming cruise ship DJ event called Holy Ship, and what many people consider one of the best parties of the year, Hard Haunted Mansion. This year’s fourth annual Halloween bash happens Friday and Saturday at the 54,000-square-foot Shrine Expo Hall and features Fatboy Slim, Soulwax, Skrillex and dozens more including Richards himself, who performs under the moniker Destructo.

In the wake of Electric Daisy Carnival’s departure from L.A. and the controversy that continues to swirl around these events (including the Hollywood riot that ensued when DJ Kaskade played for the opening of the EDC movie in July), we talk to Richards about the state of the party.

To what do you attribute the resurgence of electronic music in the late 2000s?

I think that college and high school kids are looking for something new; they are tired of the same old generic rock and hip-hop, and they finally got hold of electronic music and realized it’s an amazing form of music and it also comes with this crazy party scene. The other part of it is the Internet; the Internet did a lot to kill the sales of music, but people can hear music from all around the world, which created this whole new scene.

When Electric Daisy Carnival left L.A., did that leave a vacuum? Would you like to see your events play host to over 100,000 people?

A 100,000-person event seems pretty hard to control, maybe we could get more in the park of 50,000.

How did you react when you heard an underage girl died from an Ecstasy overdose at the 2010 Electric Daisy Carnival? Do you feel a burden to defend the genre?

First off, I feel terrible. I have kids. Since I’ve started this thing — and especially after the summer of 2010 — we really focused on how we can do these events and make them safe. I just wish that people would view what we do as another event. There are other festivals where things happen: Over the summer, there was a storm in Pukkelpop where a tree fell and it hit a stage and it killed 20 people; that could happen at my event, so to categorize it with the music is not good. All of a sudden electronic music is the devil.

The bottom line is it’s where music is going and no one is going to be able to stop that, so I think the best way to tackle it is for everyone to work together to make the events as safe as they can be. If you see someone coming into your event who looks intoxicated, don’t let him in. If you see someone coming into your event and they wanna bring in drugs, make sure they don’t get in.

Electro music can be heard on pop music stations like Power 106. Did you ever think it would go mainstream?

I thought this was gonna happen 20 years ago. ... What took everyone so long?

In 2009, Hard Summer was shut down by the Inglewood police two hours in. Were you afraid that this was the end of Hard?

Yeah, I’ve had never anything like that happen to me on that kind of level. The first thing I thought was: Let’s give everyone’s money back and make good with our fans so we don’t rip them off. It was a seven-figure loss; it was brutal. But I knew that this thing was special so I kept going. It actually was two steps back to go 10 steps forward.

What makes Hard Haunted Mansion different from the other Hard events?

We had Deadmau5 play in 2008 … and he made that song “Ghosts N’ Stuff” for the event. We had DJ AM, and he had on Thomas Bangalter’s outfit from Daft Punk [as a costume]. He did Daft Punk, Daft Punk, Daft Punk, I was like, “Oh my God, I am going to be in trouble, everybody is going to think this is Daft Punk!” And 40 minutes in, he took his hat off and [the crowd] was like, “AM! AM!” He told me, “That was probably one of the funnest times I’ve ever had in my life.”

Updated: The original version of this post misidentified the police department responsible for shutting down Hard Summer in 2009. It was the Inglewood police who closed the event at the Forum.  


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--George McIntire

Photo: Producer Gary Richards, a.k.a. DJ Destructo, at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood on October 13, 2011. Credit: Genaro Molina

HARD Summer: On track with extended Metro hours and solid bill


After HARD L.A.'s last-minute cancellation and rescheduling last year, and amid concerns over the near-riot in Hollywood at an impromptu Kaskade set outside a screening of the Electric Daisy Carnival's documentary, the city government's reception for Saturday's Hard Summer electronic music festival could have been a little frosty. But this year's installment of the dance, dubstep and hip-hop event got a hard-won Christmas-in-August gift from Metro this year -- extended hours on the Gold and Red lines to accommodate the late-night dance crowd.

The two train lines, which connect at downtown's Union Station near the festival's footprint at Chinatown, will run until 2 a.m. the night of the festival, a welcome reprieve from auto travel for hard-partying or eco-minded dance fans.

But it's just one reason why this year's festival is worth a look in the aftermath of the recent difficulties of L.A.'s electronic music scene. Here are a few highlights to plan your (possibly very long) night around.

Skrillex brings bro-step to the masses:  The recovering emo screamer Sonny Moore ably reinvented himself as Skrillex at the forefront of a very aggressive strain of beat music that pulls from the harsh, Ritalin-addled sounds and structures of noise music and the palms-up anthems of classic rave. Its appeal to a creatined frat crowd spawned a genre nickname (his collaboration with Korn, well, might not be to all tastes), but don't let that necessarily deter you -- Moore's a ninja with his sample controller and has a recent genre convert's eagerness to please his legion of insanely devoted fans. 

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Hard Summer 2011 announced for downtown L.A.: Odd Future, Duck Sauce, DFA tent, more -- and a much later curfew

293 Now that you've perfected your dance moves at Coachella and, presumably, have awakened from the post-weekend crash, time to start thinking about summer in Southern California and all that it portends: Hollywood Bowl season, Lightning in a Bottle, Santa Monica Pier concerts, outdoor musical joy at the Greek, nights on the Standard rooftop, and dance parties galore.

Add one more to that list: Hard Events has just announced the line-up for Hard Summer, its annual dance fete.

The headliners for this year's event, which will again take place at the Los Angeles State Historic Park in downtown Los Angeles, include Duck Sauce (the dynamic duo of Armand van Helden and A-Trak responsible for the wonderfully silly "Barbra Streisand"), German fuzz-tech producers Boys Noize, dueling-guitar instrumentalists Ratatat and, most important for many Angelenos, hip-hop collective Odd Future, who are riding high through a memorable spring but seeking to recover from a relatively disappointing Coachella turn this past weekend.

The L.A. dance-music community this season is seeking to recover too -- from last year's bummer summer in which the massive Electric Daisy Carnival drew massive attention for its ill-fated rave at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, in which a teenage girl died after attending the festival and YouTube clips depicted scenes of general chaos on the field. In the aftermath, The Times reported that a Coliseum administrator who helped plan security and emergency medical services for EDC 2010 also worked as a paid consultant to the company.

Hard Summer got caught up in the blowback from the incidents even though it is unaffiliated with Electric Daisy Carnival and, as a result, faced increased scrutiny for its two planned events at the State Historic Park in the months following. Ultimately, Hard Events owner Gary Richards canceled one due to a combination of poor ticket sales and projected extra security costs.

But the single-day event Hard Summer went off without a hitch, and attendees, though not nearly as many as at Electric Daisy, proved that a well-planned, secure electronic music concert can succeed on public property in the same way that a country, rock, banda or jazz festival can.

Also scheduled on the August 6 bill are Digitalism, Busy Pictionary (Busy P of Ed Banger and artist/producer So-Me), Gaslamp Killer, Acid Jacks and Karlsson & Winnberg of Miike Snow and others.  As well, an entire tent will be turned over to James Murphy, formerly (sniff) of LCD Soundsystem and his DJ partner, Pat Mahoney. Dubbed the DFA Tent, the dance moves you uncovered at Coachella will no doubt find new life within their grooves.

The event, which ended at midnight last year, has been granted two extra hours at the end of the evening; the party is now set to run until 2 a.m.


Hard Summer concert in downtown L.A. on Saturday: The safest place on Earth?

Giant rave will not return to L.A. Memorial Coliseum this year, official says

-- Randall Roberts


72 Hours: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, Janelle Monae, Hard Haunted Mansion among the weekend's best concerts

The weekend's top shows.



Corinne Bailey Rae @ the Avalon. A Grammy darling after the bouncy coffeehouse soul single "Put Your Records On" introduced her to the world in 2006, Rae returned this year with a far deeper, complex and less comfortable album in "The Sea." Jazz and soul are a jumping off point, but Rae's exploring emotional torment here. Songs such as "Diving for Hearts" resist easy classification, packed with late night pianos, unexpected phrasing and jarring surges of guitars. The Avalon, 1735 N. Vine, Los Angeles. Tickets are $27.50, not including surcharges. 

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Security not a factor in Hard L.A. cancellation, promoter says

In deciding to merge the July event with an August concert instead, Hard Events’ Gary Richards cites extra rules and costs created in the wake of a death after the Electric Daisy Carnival.


In the wake of controversy after the death of a 15-year-old girl at a rave held at the Los Angeles Coliseum on June 25, the annual Hard L.A. concert, scheduled to take place Saturday at downtown’s Los Angeles State Historic Park, was abruptly canceled Monday.

The concert was to feature beat-based acts including M.I.A., Die Antwoord, Flying Lotus, Sleigh Bells and others and was drawing extra scrutiny because of its location at the park, just east of Chinatown.

The cancellation arrived a week after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appointed a task force to “enhance rave safety” after Sasha Rodriguez died of a suspected drug overdose after attending the Electric Daisy Carnival. Establishment of the task force came after the Coliseum Commission announced a temporary ban on new contracts with rave operators as they review such events. 

Gary Richards, the promoter of Hard L.A., denied the cancellation was caused by the Coliseum incident but acknowledged that in the wake of Rodriguez’s death, city officials forced the producers to add “a lot of extra stipulations and requirements” that “resulted in unforeseen costs to the event.” He said his company, Hard Events, plans to go ahead with an Aug. 7 concert at the park and that some acts scheduled to appear Saturday would be shifted to the later event.

“I don't want anyone to think that this cancellation had anything to do with the events that occurred at Electric Daisy Carnival, because it didn't,” Richards said.

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Citing increased security requirements, HARD L.A. canceled [UPDATED]*


In the wake of a teenager's death at the Electric Daisy Carnival last month, the electronic-centric HARD L.A. concert at downtown's Los Angeles State Historic Park has been canceled due to security concerns.

James Valdez, a state park ranger and the lead coordinator for events in the Los Angeles sector who was overseeing Hard L.A., confirmed that the July 17 date is no longer happening. Valdez said the Aug. 7 Hard event, also set for the park, was still planned as of this morning. “From what I hear, yes,” Valdez said when asked if the Aug. 7 was scheduled to go off.

Valdez said he received an e-mail from Gary Richards, the festival's promoter, that stated the July 17 date was “postponed,” but he had no further information.

Documents from sources connected to a number of the acts scheduled to perform at the July 17 concert indicate that the promoters behind HARD L.A. have canceled the show in light of the new scrutiny and logistics demanded of large-scale electronic music concerts in Los Angeles.

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County officials establish rave task force in wake of Electric Daisy Carnival


The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to establish a task force to examine and "enhance rave safety" after last month's Electric Daisy Carnival led to more than 100 hospitalizations. A 15-year-old girl died last week of a suspected drug overdose after attending the two-day dance event at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum and adjoining Exposition Park, which drew between 80,000 and 100,000 people per day. 

The motion to establish the task force follows a call last week by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky to establish a rave moratorium. Coliseum officials announced last week a temporary ban on new contracts with rave operators as they consider whether to allow another such event.

"While the Coliseum Commission has taken steps to temporarily stop these events from being held on its property, the county must work with other key community stakeholders to look at the larger public health risks posts by raves and other similar events," the motion reads.

The motion defines a rave as "musical events" that "tend to be held over ... long periods of time -- sometimes days -- in large venues on both public and private property." Among the issues the task force seeks to investigate are the location, hours and size in "which these events can legally be held," as well as education efforts to "raise awareness about the potential dangers of rave parties."  

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