All About HARD Summer Festival

January 09, 2023
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stage-at-hard-summer-festival
© @johncamino / Instagram

San Bernardino, CA, USA

Open air

XXL – 50k+

Electronic, Hip-Hop

$$$$

Live music, International, VIP

+3 Days

Hard Summer is an iconic EDM music festival, which brings the best acts across genres.

The festival took birth in 2007 and was the creation of Gary Richards, better known as DJ Destructo. It is an annual festival taking place in the end of July.

It takes place at National Orange Show (NOS) Event Center – an outdoor event space in the city of San Bernardino, a city in California, east of Los Angeles.

HARD has garnered a dedicated fan base in the years since its inauguration, and for good reason. Although it is predominantly known as an EDM festival, it also features prominent rap and alternative shows on the regular.

The renowned music festival is famous for being a dance fest, featuring world-class talent, and initially gained its popularity due to its founder, Destructo.

Here’s everything you need to know about HARD Summer.

HARD Summer Music Festival 2021 Official Recap | © HARDFEST / Youtube

HARD festival’s first show was in 2007

Founded by Gary Richards, better known as electronic music artist and producer Destructo, HARD’s first show was held on the cusp of the 2007-2008 new year at a downtown LA venue.

In 2008, HARD Summer held its first summer weekend dates, kickstarting the festival into the international sphere with names like A-Trak, MSTRKRFT and LA Riots.

Richards already had a reputation for throwing raves and working on other festivals and live shows such as Electric Daisy Carnival.

gary-richards-with-his-two-dogs
© @destructoamf / Instagram

HARD festival has moved across several locations since its opening year

Venue changes aren’t uncommon for HARD fest. The music celebration has been hosted at a number of locations across California since its inauguration. 

Largely brought on by its popularity, organizers had to frequently change venues to accommodate the growing number of attendees.

stage-effects-at-hard-summer-festival
© @HARDFest / Facebook

Initially, the first summer festival was held at Shrine Exposition Hall, before being moved to the Los Angeles State Historic Park. The park was the festival’s home until 2014, when it moved to Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, then to Fairplex. This was followed by yet another shift to the Fontana Auto Club Speedway, then the Glen Amphitheater.

Its most recent move was to the NOS Event Center for its 2021 dates. Whether this will be HARD’s final relocation is still unclear.

The festival was taken on the road as HARD Summer Tour

In August of 2010, HARD Summer Tour was launched. The festival took to the road to play 12 dates across the United States and Canada.

The tour’s line-up featured Canadian duo Crystal Castles as the headliners, joined by Destructo himself, as well as other big names like Rusko and Sinden.

This opened the doors to a similar tour the following year, including tour events in collaboration with Boyz Noize Live.

Although many consider it an EDM fest, HARD features a range of genre-bending acts

© @hardfest / Instagram

HARD was the perfect answer to a new movement stirring in LA’s music scene, where electronic dance music began joining with hip-hop, rock and R&B.

The global phenomenon of EDM was gaining momentum around the globe. HARD was determined to be genre-defying and inclusive, bringing big names from all over the music world to its stages.

Now, HARD’s line-up consists of alternative, electronic and hip-hop stars, bringing emerging talent to the spotlight as well as hosting some of the largest names of their respective genres.

Some of the biggest industry names have played shows at Hard Summer

Over its run-time, the festival has welcomed some of the biggest names in the EDM and urban hip hop industry.

The long list includes 2Chainz and DJ Snake, Skrillex, Diplo, Deadmau5 and Future.

Skrillex & Boy Noize ( Dog Blood ) Live @ Hard Summer 2017 | © A State Of Music / Youtube

Guests who purchased 2020 tickets received special VIP treatment

Guests who purchased tickets for the intended 2020 show were initially disappointed when the festival was canceled due to the pandemic.

As a treat to these ticket holders, they received complimentary VIP tickets for the rescheduled 2021 dates, which gave guests a luxury oasis experience.

The VIP hangout venue was a place to take a break from the crowd’s hype and enjoy photo ops, special food trucks and bars, chilled towels to help cool off, as well as air-conditioned restrooms.

The festival also sold VIP+ tickets, an upgrade for even more amenities.

© @hardfest / Instagram

Partygoers had the perk of special viewing areas at each stage, with a pool they could swim or wade in to cool off.

Hard Summer 2009 was shut down by police for security issues

Unfortunately for the festival, its history hasn’t been entirely scratch-free.

Their 2009 show, which would have been the festival’s third run, at Los Angeles saw a stampede of fans break into the venue’s VIP section, climbing onto and jumping off of balconies

Despite efforts from the festival’s organizers to attempt to control the chaos, instruction came from local police to halt the event. At 1 AM, riot police came to the scene and over 17,000 attendees had to go home.

While no one was seriously injured, the event caused founder Gary Richards a seven-figure loss due to the cancellation. All tickets were refunded and artists paid in full.

Crazy ravers jump off balcony and stampede at Summer HARDfest 8/8/09 | © ctmexperiment / Youtube

The festival’s largest show saw 170,000 attendees come through its doors

The usual number of visitors over HARD’s annual two-day weekend shows averages 150,000.

Their largest show to date was in 2019, where the festival saw 170,000 fans enter its doors, making it the most attended festival in Californian history.

More than just a music festival, HARD is also a global concert brand

holy-ship-festival-during-day
© @holyship / Instagram

Alongside their HARD Summer fest, HARD is a music cruise as well as concert brand. HARDfest hosts HolyShip! – an annual EDM festival held on a 4,000+ capacity cruise ship.

The brand grew as an icon of live events, with new festivals held throughout the USA.

Those include HARD Day of the Dead, which embraces the cultural roots of the holiday with Mexican-inspired decorations, local artists and more.

Destructo quit after HARD’s 10year anniversary and it upset everyone

In 2017, Destructo announced he was parting ways from HARD and HolyShip. At the time, many seemed to believe he was nudged out by Live Nation who acquired HARD and HolyShip back in 2012.

The HARD and HolyShip fanbase, known as the Shipfam, didn’t hold back from showing their support to Richards, even creating a Change.org petition to try to sway Live Nation from letting Richards go.

stage-at-hard-summer-festival
© @HARDFest / Facebook

Skrillex even took to Twitter to tell his fanbase about Richards’ role in getting him shows at HARD and Holyship. However, Richards later announced his parting was due to moving on to other exciting projects.

Since then, Live Nation and Insomniac have taken over the festival and brand.

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