Hard, the California-based dance festival, has grown from a few thousand attendees at its first event in Los Angeles in 2007 to nearly 18,000 at its most recent party, in Inglewood, California. That event--which took place August 8--was closed down by authorities wary of unruliness and overcrowding. It was sold-out: dozens of people crashed a gate, rushed through the venue, and then climbed down a balcony to get the main-stage level. Several police agencies responded, and officers in riot gear eventually cleared out the venue.
But the Inglewood debacle was also evidence that the dance festival--which has featured acts like Justice, MSTRKRFT, A-Trak, Spank Rock, and Steve Aoki--has tapped a youth-quake of new audiences interested in electronic dance music that paints outside the lines of traditional, DJ-driven club genres. While most superstar DJs play linear, non-stop, beat-matched grooves that are typically confined to up-tempo genres such as trance, techno and house, a typical Hard act will perform live, mix hip-hop with electronic beats, or DJ different genres at different tempos.
As part of its expansion, promoter Gary Richards is bringing Hard to New York's Terminal 5 on Saturday. The inaugural lineup includes Crookers, Major Lazer, Rusko, Jack Beats, and DJ Destructo (Richards himself). While New York is no stranger to the Hard phenomenon--Girls & Boys, a party with a similar musical focus, happens Fridays at Webster Hall--Richards hopes to put it all under one tent for the first time. A veteran of countless dance-floor trends, the 38-year-old DJ is a forefather of early-'90s, West Coast raves--he once threw an event at Knott's Berry Farm amusement park-- and he went on to work for Rick Rubin's ill-fated 1990s techno venture. Richards eventually established his own nu electro record label, Nitrus Records, which has released music by New York's Kill The Noise and U.K. act Whitey. We recently caught up with the promoter to ask him a few questions.More »