It was hot, set times were off, and lines for food were miles long, yet despite the typical setbacks of any major music festival, HARD Summer 2015 managed to yet again reign supreme as THE festival in the Los Angeles electronic music scene.

This year, there were a few changes to the template that helped build HARD’s flagship festival into what it is today. Nearly doubling in attendance to 65,000 festival-goers a day, size was certainly a difference in the event’s look. Returning to the Pomona Fairplex from the Whittier Narrows, the location also was different, allowing for the festival to reach such a formidable number of attendees. The location that also hosts the annual Los Angeles County Fair, the Fairplex is no stranger to huge crowds and high demands. Finally, another major difference between the 2015 festival and past years was the inclusion of a rather significant number of high profile, non-electronic acts. Ranging from The Weeknd to Schoolboy Q, the festival seemed to embrace the similarities between many genres of electronic music and hip-hop.

Despite the typical issues that come with any major festival there really wasn’t anything to complain about. Free water stations kept the crowd hydrated between sets, the large number of medics and security helped to maintain order and safety, and the acts brought their best, knowing that huge audiences and potential new fans awaited them. From ODESZA dropping their long overdue ID, to the Weeknd throwing down covers and freestyles, to Jack U bringing out every collaborator off their self-titled album, it is hard to imagine that anyone in attendance walked away disappointed in the lineup’s performance.

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Unfortunately, there was one undeniable issue that has permeated across all major electronic music festivals: drug-related deaths. Tragically, two young women passed away during the festival due to overdoses. It was quite unsettling to find out that while 65,000 people were making their summers memorable, two young women found the festival to be their last memories. Now, as a result, Los Angeles County like many local municipalities has started a witch-hunt against electronic music festivals. Labeling them as drug-ridden, promoting the intake of illegal substances, and citing electronic music festivals as a major reason for drug abuse in the county, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is attempting to ban these types of events from the county. An easy target due to the largely younger audience that attends these shows, policies against electronic music festivals is only growing harsher, so we encourage our readers to remind their representatives of the benefits that our beloved festivals bring as well.

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Though there was negativity that came out of the festival, it does not overshadow the amazing experience that the HARD family brought to us. Strong advocates over lineup curation over stage curation, the group understands that dedicated members of the community attend events because of the incredible balance between new talent and established acts, not because of over-the-top firework shows. Walking between sets from Mr. Carmack to Jamie XX, there was no need for huge, outrageous stages that shoot fire fifty feet into the air during a song. Walking between the tents, or to and from the HARD and HARDer stages, the constant stream of amazing performances keeps a true fan content. The atmosphere that was created was something not many festivals can replicate. Simplistic, to the point, and humble, the festival was a place for people who love getting down witht the best acts around, not for those who go to annoy their friends with social media posts of artists they don’t even recognize. With that in mind, it is impossible to say that HARD Summer 2015 was anything short of one of the best festivals of the year, and that we are more than looking forward to HARD’s next major event, HARD Day of the Dead.