Review & Photos | Hard Day Of The Dead Festival | California

Day Two of the festival saw cooler temperatures moderating the afternoon heat of the day before. Even though the second day of the festival had completely sold out all 70,000 tickets, early afternoon crowds were surprisingly light. The day offered up an historic cross section of EDM music including pioneer Giorgio Moroder, who has been called the founding father of EDM music. Music fans arriving early again were treated to a variety of dance beats with sparse crowds throughout most of the afternoon. But by the time the sun set, massive crowds began arriving for the what clearly was the headier lineup of the two-day festival. By the time Cut Copy, the only band to play with traditional instruments on Sunday, hit the main stage at 6 PM, it was already pitch dark, due to the seasonal time change the night before. The audience responded well to the Australian electronic rock band. Charismatic lead singer Dan Whitford led the band in an animated performance. The quartet was augmented by a spirited Tom Tom drummer.

It was clear from the home made signs that many in the crowd had come to hear the next act on the main stage, Calvin Harris. The Scottish DJ is one of the most successful EDM stars of all-time and he played a set of his most popular hit remixes to the delight of the crowd. Over on the other Harder main stage, Pretty Lights was living up to his name, mixing his own brand of decidedly American EDM, amidst a dazzling array of laser and LED lights that mesmerized the large crowd that had gathered around him. One of the most recognizable icons of EDM music, Deadmau5, closed the main stage with a dazzling light and sound performance rivaling the biggest production in live rock history. Think in terms of Pink Floyd's The Wall Tour or Muse's massive live set. Joel Thomas Zimmerman first appeared in front of the huge crowd, tuning his electronic gadgets, sans his mouse head. After a quiet few moments of great anticipation, the Canadian donned the first of several different Mouse head masks, and a synchronized LED light array exploded with colors. The huge crowd went into a wild state of dance euphoria that lasted until the end of the set.

The Deadmau5 performance is unlike any other in the EDM genre. His show is almost like a symphonic opera, with carefully crafted segments of music and calibrated visuals that ebb and flow into brilliant cascades of light and sound. The segments fit together seamlessly and the audience is left in anticipation of the next big crescendo. The result is a spectacle of sight and sound that any performance art enthusiast can easily embrace, even if they are not fans of the EDM musical genre. Zimmerman integrated a ghost segment into the mix to capture the spirit of the event perfectly. There was so much going on in the visual end of the performance, from Giant Robotic Mice to massive computer animations, that you had to be hundreds of yards from the stage to take it all in. The Pièce de résistance in the visual effects was a massive array of gas torches that would explode into the sky, periodically, throughout the main evening sets. The huge torches would explode, sucking in the atmosphere around them and casting off a large expulsion of warm air like a hot desert wind. They would also serve to light up the dazzled crowd in an awesome spectacle. By all accounts the Hard Day of the Dead was a huge success. No doubt the festival will be repeated, all be it in an ever evolving format that has come to characterize the Hard festival series.

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[Published on: 11/6/13]

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