Located in the middle of California during the midst of the summer, high temperatures were to be expected. Insomniac did a great job fighting the heat with a football field sized misting tent, more water stations, and heat blankets over much of the asphalt. What Insomniac did not do was prepare festival goers for the level of heat the artists brought to the stage this weekend. With a wide variety of bass, house, and rap, there was no shortage of beats for all tastes in music.
With the stages split into two sections, east and west of the raceway, it made for a very long walk to get from the Hard stage to the Harder stage. Add the sun beating down on your neck, and this made the decision to trek all the way across much more discouraging than many had thought. Although we did try to move around as much as possible, this caused my squad and I to miss some sets that we had planned to attend and see some artists we did not schedule to attend.
At the moment of realizing we would then miss someone we planned to see, we were not happy. Once the music came and we gave the stage a chance, we were never disappointed. For the first time ever, there was not a stage that I was not enjoying at a festival. With that being said, it was hard to peg sets as “the best”, so rather, we will talk about the sets that surprised us. Here are the top sets of the weekend at Hard Summer 2019, and why.
5.) What So Not – Harder Stage – Saturday — 7:55-8:55
What So Not was the perfect artist for the sunset slot. His music was exactly what everyone needed to stare at the mountains and watch the purple sky fall to night. The crowd was great too, no pushing and shoving. We saw the temperature drop about 15 degrees during his time on stage which made it much more enjoyable. What he spun up was a great break from big time bass beats and prepared everyone from the heavy headbangers that filled the remaining slots for Saturday night. I think I had my most memorable moment at this set. The music what so not played made me think about eve
4.) DJ Diesel – Green Tent – Saturday — 6:25-7:05
Shaq was nothing short of entertaining. While Diesel is new to the EDM scene, he does not fall behind in a high-level performance if you want to compare him to other bass music sub-headliners. While he threw down all the headbanger classics of the last five years, he also provides entertainment in other ways. Just watching him have fun on the stage will put a smile on your face. He has a huge entourage up there on stage with him, and I could have sworn I heard Shaq scream, “Make some noise for Kobe Bryant!” If there was one person I would want to swap lives with, it would be Shaq. He is a cop, a doctor, a sports analyst, a headbanger DJ, and not to mention, a hall-of-fame.
3.) Alison Wonderland – Harder Stage – Saturday – 10:00-11:00
It’s always great to see female DJs close out at big name events. After seeing Alison Wonderland a handful of times in the past year, I can say without hesitation that this was the best set I have seen her play. Not only did she have great visuals, production, and music, but she had some great quotes of motivation and inspiration throughout her set. These statements may have been what made her set so memorable. She would preach something into the mic that made you think about life. To follow that up she would then play an upbeat tune that made you feel good. If I am not mistaken, I think we are onto how she has become so liked on the scene. Pair inspiration with feel-good music, and you will naturally create a high that resonates with people.
2.) Kayzo – Harder Stage – Sunday – 8:50-9:50
Even since the Twitter world called out Kayzo for, “not going as hard as he used to,” he has hit every stage with nothing but serious intensity and BPMs that would break the speedometer of a Honda Civic. Sunday was a better day to be in the crowd solely because there was a lower volume of attendees. This made it more enjoyable to dance around with people and have space to go crazy. In terms of his set, Kayzo did not disappoint. He plays the punk rock sing-a-longs and spins them into high energy frequencies that no other DJ can match up with. To finish off his set, Kayzo brought out Dotcom, Yultron, and Ookay for the first reunion of the Binches since EDC 2018. I had a thought that this would happen since Ookay and Yultron were on the lineup, but never got my hopes up. Safe to say myself and the rest of the crowd was extremely excited when the group came up on stage and brought even more energy to the set. Well done boys, well done.
1.) DJ Snake B2B Malaa – Pink Tent – Saturday – 9:45-11:00
There is no other word to sum up this set other than, wow. I was curious if the duo would take a harder stance and go with a more bass house feel or keep things simple with a deep house set. To be honest, I do not think either of my assumptions were correct. Here is what I felt during this set. The was a relatively large crowd there. Getting into the tent was actually very hard. Many people were anticipating this B2B. After the trek through people we were able to post up in the back corner of the tent with a nice view of everything. DJ Snake and Malaa started out deep and got into groovy mode as the set went on. Not only did they play some sounds I have never heard before. The production they put on in such a small tent was unique and is what set this set up to #1 on our list. Here is how I would sum it up. They had lasers shooting off a disco ball that made you feel as if you were in the year 2040 and there had been a new level of music fully developed that rang our ears different than any beats in the past. It was nothing short of amazing. I try not to toss this saying around loosely, but I wish I could relive that set.
Overall, HARD Summer was a bigger, better, and more impressive festival than I anticipated. The heat was a factor, but in no way did it deter us from having fun. I wore pants both days and was able to get by without being dehydrated. I will be back to California for this festival again in the near future. With the lineup and atmosphere they bring, there is no way to pass up another opportunity to dance on the raceway.