Festival Report CardMusic Festivals

Festival Report Card: HARD Summer 2023

Gina Joy for HARD Summer

The return of HARD Summer to the Los Angeles Coliseum was a hot one.

Amidst a heat wave and multiple coinciding events happening in the LA area, people walking the streets were divided between those attending HARD Summer and those heading to see Taylor Swift. Talk about quite the contrast. Here’s what we have to say about our overall experience of the HARDA Summer 2023 weekend:

Jamal Eid for HARD Summer

Vibes: B-

With HARD Summer being an intersection of dance music and hip-hop culture, it does bring in different attendees: the “PLUR” and those that don’t know.

That being said, the energy was high, considering the heat and the packed crowds. Attendees’ outfits and totems were on point with lots of Barbie-inspired fits, so walking through the crowd echoed, “Hi Barbies!”

This, as well as the traditional kandi trading, added a wholesome positivity to the mix.

But things did get pretty tense and overcrowded between a few sets and leaving the venue on the first day.

However, at the end of day two, crowd control leaving the festival had noticeably improved. It was reassuring to see some action taken by Insomniac to mitigate crowd congestion where possible. Still, the chaos leaving Ludacris on day two was something we know many attendees had a rough experience with.

There was also impatience regarding waiting in the water lines, as water stations were limited, with only two GA stations available.

Production: B

The production was stellar. All the boxes were checked; they had Pyro, cryo, and lasers and even threw beach balls at Skrillex’s set. The beach balls seemed to spark some controversy, but the fireworks finale was exciting.

The number of activations was fun and interactive. The Pringles Playground, BeatBox Slushie bikes, and the free HARD popsicles were all a hit. This was especially enjoyable for attendees while walking between the stages. 

Since all the stages were set further apart or located in the stadium, the sound quality was solid, with little to no sound bleed. 

Scott Hutchinson for HARD Summer

Music: A 

The music is why we’re all here; it did not disappoint. We saw standout performances from Diesel, Gorgon City, ISOxo, and obviously Skrillex B2B Fourtet. While mixed reviews surrounded acts like John Summit and Kaskade, the lineup of talent was well-curated.

With various artists collaborating these days, it was no surprise many were brought on stage during one another’s sets, such as Knock2 bringing out ISOxo, and Kai Wachi having Lø Spirit sing “Hollow” during his set.

Day one attendee appreciated the Drum & Bass at the green stage with Luude, Alix Perez, and Netsky. Day two had heavy hitters for bass music takeover at the green stage, with Space Laces, Kai Wachi, Peekaboo, and more. Hamdi’s set at 4 PM had an insane fan turnout for being one of the earlier sets in the day, and his energy on stage was fun and full of energy, as usual. 

The nostalgia hit with non-EDM artists like Ludacris, whose set had attendees feeling back in their middle school days. Also, when Kid Cudi played his EDM version of “Pursuit Of Happiness,” everyone felt like they were living in Project X.

Venue: B

The return to the Coliseum would have pros and cons, as with any venue. Overall we thought it was beautiful, the grounds were unique, and each stage was slightly different. While some advocated for the return to NOS Events Center for various reasons, others preferred the LA venue.

Certain stages were easier to navigate than others, but areas such as the HARDER stage were easily congested, and the VIP areas experienced overcrowding.

Speaking of crowd congestion, leaving the venue on day one was rough, but day two had obvious improvements, with more exits available.

Regarding getting to and from the venue, it was great that people were encouraged to use the metro. The metro stop was conveniently located right outside the venue, and metro hours were extended so attendees could easily travel within a certain mile radius.

But there were accounts of people having issues with rideshares, such as attendees having to walk far to get a ride, and we witnessed many people stranded along the streets just waiting for an Uber or Lyft.

Gina Joy for HARD Summer

Overall: B

The return of HARD Summer to the Coliseum was a mixed bag of experiences. Exceptional music performances, impressive production, and an iconic venue delivered standout moments. However, crowd congestion, limited water stations, and transportation hiccups shadowed the overall experience.

As with any festival, improvements will always be needed. We appreciated that Insomniac recognized the feedback about VIP areas, water stations, and crowd flows in Pasquale’s recent post following the event. We look forward to seeing what venue will be selected for next year’s HARD Summer.

Related Articles

Accessible Festivals
Music FestivalsNews

Accessible Festivals’ Fall Grant Program Offers Free Tickets For People With Disabilities

Accessible Festivals is helping people with disabilities get to their favorite fall...

Ultra Taiwan
Music FestivalsNews

Ultra Sets Sights On Return To Taiwan This Fall

Ultra Worldwide has just dropped off the official dates for its return...

EDM Events/ ConcertsMusic FestivalsNews

HARD Summer Announces Official 2024 Pre And Afterparties

HARD Summer has unveiled the full run of shows for HARD Weekender,...

Project GLOW
Music FestivalsNews

Insomniac Confirms New Later Dates For Project GLOW 2025

Insomniac has just confirmed the official dates for the 2025 edition of...