Featured Image via OhDagYo Photography

This past weekend, Electric Sloth was fortunate enough to be cleared to cover one of HARD’s most hyped events of the year: Day of the Dead.

This year, the two-day event featured an amazing lineup consisting of acts such as: Skrillex, Deadmau5, Gesaffelstein, Pete Tong, Flying Lotus, XXYYXX, TroyBoi, Sango, Snakehips, and many more.

Hosted again at the Pomona Fairplex, the venue was very spacious. On top of that, the event was capped for a more intimate vibe, and attendees were now 21+. This contributed to a far doper environment, with better vibes all around. The stages this year were also extremely well organized – all of them were indoors, with A/C blasting – it was definitely a lot more comfortable for all festival-goers around.

Day 1:

via OhDagYo Photography

The first day started off with us catching Sango, who thrilled the crowd with heavy bass synths and kicks. One of the biggest faces of futuristic beat label Soulection, Sango‘s set certainly impressed, even mixing in Drake‘s “Hotling Bling” with his set along with more ambient, chill tracks, as well as some shit that I definitely got down to. Always a pleasure to see live, and definitely a legendary DJ/producer.

Star Slinger: I had high expectations for this UK house DJ/producer – unfortunately, his psychedelia inspired hits did not fully resonate with the crowd, who were looking for a lot more turn-up. While I still have mad respect for his music, it really just wasn’t the right vibe.

Jauz: After his meteoric set at HARD Summer, there were a lot of expectations for this future house-esque DJ/producer, and he fulfilled them all by really bringing the heat. He sent rippling dubstep roaring through the stage, and shook the venue up with his presence. Only criticism: dude, stop talking. You’re not a politician, you’re a DJ, and you happen to be very good at one thing and not very good at the other.

Snakehips: Fire. This duo from London never ceases to wow me with their ability to move a crowd, standing vigilant with their brand of electronic hip hop, even in the face and advent and rise of bigroom trap & house. They certainly brought some groovy vibes to the dance floor, and the crowd was moving back and forth, swaying to sultry, seductive synths that really got the people in a dancy mood.

XXYYXX: The weirdness that is this Orlando producer is something I actually appreciate it. His psychedelic electronic beats (if you can really call it that) reminds me of old grainy YouTube videos of alien landings. Strange stuff, but good stuff, and people at this show really fucked with it, too.

Bonobo: I. Love. Bonobo. This British DJ always rocks the chillest sets that really inspire me to just close my eyes and really feel each intricate part of his music. If he was constantly playing in the background for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t really be opposed.

Flying Lotus: FlyLo!!!!!!!! One of the most talked about DJs/producers of our generation. This experimental, multi-genre musician is truly amazing. He defies every concept of dance music, and the hype that exists around his music is most definitely real. His ability to have a crowd follow along with every sound that comes from his tables is unparalleled. Everything he touches becomes infinitely impossible, and every set I’ve ever heard him perform has been a truly magical experience. A fantastic closing act for the craziness that was Day 1, and I honestly cannot wait to see what else this guy has in store for us.

via OhDagYo Photography

After the first day, I completely wore myself out, and left coverage to another contributing writer – Taylor Lemmons.

Day 2:

Hard Presents "Day of The Dead" - Day One 10.31.15

via OhDagYo photography
We started off our second day with TroyBoi, whose stage presence exceeded expectations. Our resident trap king electrified the crowd with tried and true hits like “ili” and “Do You Love Me” and mixed them with samples from classics like “Higher Ground” (TNGHT) and “Holdin’ On” (Flume). Surprisingly, he utilized his mic and was coaxing the crowd to sing along—we of course complied. He ended his set with a guest performance from Kinjaz, a dance crew best known from America’s Best Dance Crew. They performed a piece dressed in ninja garb, focusing on micro-movements and gravity defying precision. There was a special ninja dressed in all-white that was later revealed to be TroyBoi himself, elevating his persona outside of the DJ booth and proving his mettle as a legitimately talented dancer.
Vindata followed, a duo from Los Angeles who presented well produced tracks like “All I Really Need ft. Kenzie May” and Own Life ft. Anderson Paak” alongside stimulating, high-energy trap-reminiscent remixes of Galantis’s “You” and “A Milli” by Lil’ Wayne. They reminded me of an evolved, more accessible Flosstradamus. Vindata also brought up an inner conflict that I frequently experience at a lot of hard EDM shows now: is this just loud noise or is there something special and unique here? What Vindata lacks in individuality among their EDM peers they make up for with their visuals and lightshow. To see inverted colors melting into one another recursively while laser beams created what  was perceived as three-dimensional angles, projected to the back of the room truly made Vindata an enjoyable show.
Then came Joe Kay, a co-founder of Soulection that did his conglomerate well by presenting and mixing tracks from other Soulection artists. It made me view him as an editor more than an artist, but a damn good editor nonetheless. It was great to hear tracks from Louie Lastic and GoldLink as well as feel good dance-y remixes of old classics.
After Joe Kay came e s t a. (another Soulection affiliate) who undoubtedly was the best of the day. He seamlessly mixes original content together with remixes like BBHM and the Snakehips x Tory Lanez “Dimelo” that kept me dancing the entire time. Being both soulful and imaginative is his greatest advantage and will only improve his entire sound over time.
After e s t a. there was Marshmello who I had only known from his mysterious identity. His music is akin to what I would describe as an adderall high where you almost can’t help but bounce around. However, the drops that follow the intense and to be honest, commercially conventional build-ups, are infused with deep drum components that make the bouncy feeling all the more fun.
We left Marshmello early to go to A$AP Ferg who never fails to engage with the crowd with his distinct voice and lyrics. Ty Dolla Sign dropped by which took the show from what was an intimate rap gathering to a main event. Trap party all day.
Gesaffelstein: I have no words. He melted my face. I had to leave.
via OhDagYo Photography
Jai Wolf was GREAT, he is one to watch. My second favorite of the day. Uplifting like Odesza but much more grimy and not afraid to utilize rap and other genres outside of the happy go lucky strand of EDM that he is associated with…(Odesza’s label) Also Indian Summer live was one of the best things that has happened to me in a while. AND it was his birthday.
Skrillex brought Diplo in, making it a Jack U show not a Skrillex show, it seemed fun from the back but they need to make more music and not rely so heavily on outside voices (Justin Bieber, AlunaGeorge) to make things magical.

All in all, HARD Day of the Dead 2015 brought the thunder – which is pretty much expected at this point. Both days were an incredible time, and prompt attendees to go as hard as possible (which resulted in my untimely attrition before the second day), which is fairly appropriate considering the name of this organization.