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HARD Day Of The Dead: Review

Marc Sessa |
November 4, 2014 | 2:48 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

ZEDD ends his set at HARD Day Of The Dead (Via Marc Sessa)
ZEDD ends his set at HARD Day Of The Dead (Via Marc Sessa)
This past weekend, HARD Day Of The Dead celebrated its first year at the Pomona Fairplex with an estimated 80,000 in attendance. The weekend was filled with good vibes, comfortable weather, and of course enough bass to almost cause the ground to split in half. The two day festival hosted five stages at the new, dust free venue and featured favorite artists ZEDD, Calvin Harris, Knife Party, Diplo, Bassnectar, deadmau5, Eric Prydz, and Gesaffelstein among the remainder of the stacked lineup.


The wait was finally over and the energy from the crowd could be felt even from outside the venue. Cheers were heard around amidst the trance inducing bass rhythms of the HARD Stage as attendees entered and instantly it was like you were home. People go to music festivals to escape the real world for even just a day and to dance amongst others that share the same music tastes. HARD did not disappoint and made sure to have something for everyone.

When Seven Lions took the stage, the crowd could not wait to hear what the artist had in store. Because of the rain the night before, and somewhat earlier that day, there were sections at the stage that made it muddy causing the crowd to huddle on the grass or limited concrete areas. However, this did not stop the crowd from figuring out how to get down to the set that was being delivered. It was still great but unfortunately most of the set was very similar to his EDC Las Vegas set he played a few months back leaving the repeat attendees with disappointment. However, it was exciting to see special guest, Kerli, show up to sing 'Worlds Apart' live.

READ MORE: Life Is Beautiful Festival: Review

Pretty Lights took the stage later in the evening transforming the grounds into a laser filled playground accentuated by the melodic piano riffs, jazz like drum patters, and bass filled synths that the DJ and accompanying musicians delivered. Even throwing in some Radiohead to change things up the crowd grooved in unison to this much needed cool down set. 

Up next was Gessafelstein, which unfortunately suffered from two problems. HARD mislabeled either where he would be playing or intended one stage to actually be another. Set to perform at the Purple Stage he was instead at the Pink Stage causing many attendees to just be left in confusion. Second, the stage was housed inside and for such a popular artist it quickly hit capacity. Luckily, a few people got the idea to go around to the back before this was apparent and some people squeezed in just as he took the stage. Being housed inside in the dark with his dark techno beats brought everyone back to a 90s warehouse feel that if you were lucky enough to experience you should be grateful because that set, or anything like it, will probably never be able to be replicated.

Finally, it was time to split the remaining hours between deadmau5 vs. Eric Prydz and Knife Party. Obviously two completely differing artists each brought something different. Mau5ville provided the crowd with a hypnotic set that made it hard to break away to hear the first glimpse of the Knife Party album but once you got to the main stage, the intensity took you in and didn’t want to let go. The crowd was going nuts for the entire set ending the first night in an array of fireworks and pyrotechnic explosions.


By the second day, crowds gathered again for an amazing day of music. Now knowing the stage layout, it was easier for returners to navigate the grounds.

If you didn't catch this early set, you missed out. Botnek had an energizing set to start the day off right and we couldn’t stop moving since they took the stage. It’s always great to see an artist make the entire crowd go absolutely crazy and jumping in unison and they had no problem with their infamous “#SELFIE” remix among a new sped up version that took the crowd by surprise. I had a chance to sit down with the two and their sheer hilarity made for a memorable experience.

Botnek sits down with Marc Sessa to talk music, beer, and what's next. (Via Marc Sessa)
Botnek sits down with Marc Sessa to talk music, beer, and what's next. (Via Marc Sessa)

Celebrating his birthday, Eric Muise, along with the other half of Botnek, Gordon Huntley, the two explained that their sound as being “high energy with weird sounds.” The two IPA lovers have just started touring with Kill The Noise and are loving the chance to explore the United States. They continued and stated that they would like to play older songs because it would throw people off but they would also accept it and get down to it.

This duo is certainly up-and-coming and has been receiving support from some of the top names such as Tommie Sunshine, Madeon, Hardwell, and Steve Aoki. But if you don’t believe me on their talent, they just released a remix of deadmau5’s "Maths" and it is straight fire.  

They love playing small college towns because they say those kids party harder than ever but also enjoy the diversity represented in large cities such as Los Angeles so keep an eye out for the next time they’re in your town.

Tchami took the stage in the afternoon to give everyone some much needed deep house to keep the crowd moving and prepare for what was to come in the evening. When Big Gigantic took over the stage instantly turned into a crowd jiving and moving to electronic progressions intermixed with live saxophone lines and drum kit beats. They made it extremely difficult to walk over to the HARDer Stage but it was not so bad once you realized how many people had just done the same thing to catch Galantis.

READ MORE: 10 Times The Remix Was Better Than The Original 

The crowd was happy with smiles all around as the two filled everyone with melodic songs filled with easily singable lyrics. That’s not to say that the set did not reach some levels of intensity (I mean, they were playing at the HARDer Stage). Both members of Galantis were having the time of their lives clapping, jumping, and singing to the crowd which only livened up the performance and really made one feel like they were happy and lucky to be up their. This added an extra element that is not too common to a set and it shows when the crowd is talking about it after they end. Their diverse set blew newcomers and regulars of the duo out of the water.

RL Grime took the stage after Destructo and gave the crowd a much needed trap break for everyone to get down to. This was in stark contrast to the much-anticipated ZEDD that took the stage and had the crowd shuffling, jumping, and screaming for his entire set throwing out new tracks along with favorites such as "Clarity" and "Find You." 

ZEDD has been guilty of playing very similar sets that have been known to upset some in the past but he changed that assumption very quickly for many. He even brought Dillon Francis out for a special appearance during the set which caused the crowd to roar in support. Fireworks and a waterfall of sparks accompanied the ending of the set leaving everyone pretty exhausted by the time Calvin Harris and Bassnectar took the stage. Offering very differing sounds the two made sure that everyone could end the weekend with the experience they wanted whether it was jumping along to Calvin’s catchy tunes or throwing it down with bass in their face with Bassnectar.

Overall, this festival was way better than I had ever expected it to be. The lineup was very diverse and there was never a dull moment supported by the fact that this venue is perfect for a festival of this nature. Yes, there were some organizational flaws but that will always happen at a new venue and most of the flaws were fixed easily and quickly.

If you were not there this weekend you missed out but that does not have to happen next year. Get your tickets and make sure to GO HARD.

Reach Staff Reporter Marc Sessa here. 



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