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Since the launch of HARD in 2007, Gary Richards has built a brand based on an insatiable love for dance music. This year’s edition of HARD Summer celebrated 10 years of the brand, and the weekend was filled with surprises, good vibes, and of course, great music.

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Saturday

It’s my first HARD event and oh my god, it’s HOT. People of all ages and genders wore virtually nothing to the festival and I don’t blame them — I couldn’t give up my all-black aesthetic, though. I overheard multiple people describe their happiness about the entrance line being a breeze compared to previous years, too.

I felt the energy of the festival immediately upon entering through the gates. HARD is so focused on the music that checking out stage production isn’t really a priority; it’s best to just wander around until you hear a great beat. The first set I was drawn to came from Drezo at the HARD stage. It was only 3:00 p.m. but he got the entire crowd moving, including me.

I spent a great amount of time at the Green stage because of my undying love for bass music. My experience started with Josh Pan who threw down such an exciting set that knew few bounds. His ability to keep the crowd thrilled with tracks that spanned from brand new to years-old was simply awesome.

Going into the weekend, I knew I couldn’t miss MUST DIE! on Saturday. Experiencing his riotous set from the stage while watching headbangers going insane on the rail offered some excellent comic relief. Habstrakt came out to hang, but we really couldn’t handle the heat.

Later in the night, I got to experience my first time seeing Skepta — I’m not even exaggerating when I say it changed my life. He opened with “That’s Not Me” and the crowd went ballistic. The entire set was a great performance from the grime master himself, and I got to go home with free merch tossed in the crowd by his crew. Thanks, fam!

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Sunday

I felt blessed on Sunday because it was just a bit cooler than the previous day, but it made such a big difference. My first priority of the day was to check out Hotel Garuda at the HARDER stage. These boys know how to set the tone for a great party — they even threw “Crank Dat Soulja Boy” in their set. It went off. Shortly after, I met up with Walker and Royce behind the Pink stage to talk about their upcoming album release in October and hang out with the Dirtybird crew.

Sunday held particular significance because it was the day of Destructo’s final performance as the leader of HARD. The stage was packed with attendees dancing and feeling the energy from the set, but the best moment was the closing song. Destructo introduced Giorgio Moroder to the stage to play “Last Dance,” a monumental track to the history of dance music with a fitting title to boot.

I got a great dose of house music from Shiba San at the Corona Electric Beach stage. It was insanely packed and the sound was booming from what seemed to be a small stage — the vibes were just right. Soon enough, it was time for the main event: DOG BLOOD.

The highlight of the weekend was none other than Dog Blood performing after a years-long hiatus. Their genre-defying set oozed with fresh sounds and the crowd was vibing hard. The duo used minimal stage production — just an insane amount of fog and red lights to create a mood focused on the music. Skrillex and Boys Noize brought some friends on stage for a fun dance break, including Destructo, What So Not, Rukes, and more.

I ended my night with more dubstep, starting with Kill the Noise and closing with Bassnectar. The bass was shaking the ground during Bassnectar’s set and his visuals were so beautiful on the massive HARDER stage.

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Summary

Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino turned out to be a great location for this year’s festival. With temperatures reaching over 90 degrees, the grassy landscape was refreshing as the festival grounds. There were seven stages to choose from: HARD, HARDER, Purple, Green, Pink, and Corona Electric Beach. I split my time evenly among all seven stages, and I can’t decide which I liked the best. My craving for bass music was satisfied at both Green and HARDER with artists like MUST DIE!, Kill the Noise, and Bassnectar.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this festival since I had never attended a HARD event in the past, but the vibes were just right, the lineup was killer, and I had an awesome weekend. Check out the gallery below.

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