Hard Haunted Mansion | 10.31.08 | L.A.

By: Greg Caruso

Hard Haunted Mansion :: 10.31.08 :: Shrine Expo Center :: Los Angeles, CA

Hard Haunted Mansion :: 10.31 :: Los Angeles
Snaking down Jefferson Boulevard, just off the 10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles, you could see from a distance that the Shrine Expo Center was THE place to be on Halloween, with hoards of costumed rapscallions making their way into the event, eager to dance the night away to their favorite artists and DJs performing on stages erected both inside and out. Billed as the Hard Haunted Mansion, the evening featured reigning princes of electronica, Justice, their Ed Banger cohorts Busy P and Sebastian, as well as Soulwax, who made two appearances (the second under their 2 Many DJs moniker). Other notable DJs on the decks were Simian Mobile Disco, Boyz Noize, Crookers, Crystal Castles and Deadmau5. The fest also brought out DJ Am, who was back in action only one month after being injured in a plane crash - with a little trick up his sleeve no less.

To say getting inside was a fiasco is an understatement, but when you're dealing with such a large number of attendees (10,000+), it's to be expected. Once inside however, the vastness of the Shrine proved to be mostly accommodating, with the exception of the peak rush of people pouring in at about 11 p.m. With two outdoor stages flanking the main auditorium – which held two more stages - it was a constant back and forth movement to get from one area to the next. At first, security did the best they could to keep some order, but as pills dropped and states of consciousnesses altered the freaks began to create their own pathways. With the crowd being mostly there to dance, these types of upheavals are quite readily accepted, to a degree, and even encouraged.

The evening got its first kick start with 2 Many DJs' opening remix of Chemical Brothers' "Hey Girl Hey Boy," and from there it was on, the party had started and wouldn't stop until 4 a.m. Having 2 Many DJs on at such an early time in the evening (9 p.m.) could've been a buzzkill for some, but knowing that Soulwax would be performing later in the evening made that kind of thinking null and void. 2 Many DJs continued to slay the crowd for close to two hours - crushing everyone inside and out with their unique takes on songs like The Gossip's "Standing in the Way of Control" and a twisted version of Weezer's "Hash Pipe."

2 Many DJs :: 10.31 :: Los Angeles
Daedelus, an artist to definitely watch out for, came out wearing an old time burglar costume and brought with him a rapper to accompany him at the front of his set. Being placed on the bill before Simian Mobile Disco, he set the pace perfectly, manipulating tracks using a Monome hooked into his laptop, which itself is an interesting spectacle to watch. With a distorted jack-o'-lantern on the screen behind him, he moved his hands frenetically through beats and mashups, including Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" and Nirvana's "Smell's Like Teen Spirit".

Effervescent blue stage lighting poured over the crowd, and with an eerie intensity, the sound of Simian Mobile Disco's "Sleep Deprivation" built around the crowd. Throughout this set we walked the grounds, met other freaks and checked the vastness of the event. Sebastian was well on his way, melting faces at the Trick or Treat Stage, and kids were splayed all over the place, costumed and not, reveling in the power of not only substances but the sheer happiness over how much music there was to hear. Yellow coated security were constantly surveying the scene, some with shock, others with envy and some hellbent on trying to keep kids from sneaking into the grounds.

Walking into the Expo Stage just after 11 p.m., having NO idea who was on at this point, proved to be the biggest spectacle of the evening. Seeing a singular form above, wearing a signature mask and outfit no less, got my heart pumping fast. The crowd was packed and getting more so by the second. The pyramid shaped hands in the air were going up in exponential numbers as "Around the World" was pumped over the speakers in Daft Punk's signature style. Could it really be one of them? Were the rumors actually true? No, they weren't. Did anyone care at the time? No. We were all in the moment. Did anyone care afterwards, when the gag was revealed? Of course they did. We had been hornswoggled by the one DJ no one expected capable of such a successful ruse. DJ AM, disguised as a member of the legendary Daft Punk, spun for close to an hour under the guise and pulled it off flawlessly. Hovering above the crowd, no one could see the huge "DJ AM" that was plastered on his laptop. Upon the removal of his helmet and jacket, the screams emanating from the crowd ran from shock to love to indignation and confusion. He continued with his own set, of course, but the joke was on us. He had the balls to do it and we fell for it. You can't help but smile just thinking about it.

DJ AM :: 10.31 :: Los Angeles
I feel, more so than ever, that electronic music and "jam-based" fare are fusing together at a much faster rate than most realize. Soulwax proved to be the basis of this point on Halloween, as witnessed by them being THE most talked about act of the evening. Having a firm, steady hold on current popular music as well the classics, Soulwax raised questions about where music is headed. There seemed to be a steady stream of influences that poured through all the DJ's speakers at this event. From old school Michael Jackson to Biggie Smalls, disco to punk, rock to rap, all mixed with whatever the DJ's signature mixing style was. When Soulwax took the stage, pretty much all bets were off. The combination between mixing, instrumentation and overall skill at making a crowd jump was awe-inspiring. Dressed in white and black with: "A Part of the Weekend Never Dies" in black, wavering letters on a white background projected behind them, they killed the crowd. The words behind them come from their song "E Talking," which opened their set, and is also the title of their recently released documentary. Blasting through the majority of their seminal album Nite Versions, the group took us to new levels with the deft ingenuity of their craft. Just before the close of their set, they decided to annihilate the already sweat drenched crowd with an instrumental version of Daft Punk's "Robot Rock," segueing into Justice's "Phantom Pt. 2." If the word "Soulwax" is not in your musical vocabulary it simply must be remedied immediately. The power of the music they create leaves you feeling satisfied yet dying for more.

Throughout the epic insanity of Hard Halloween, one thing was for certain, the tracks that got a LOT of people off were either by Justice, who despite being there live were also heavily sampled, and MGMT. It's really no surprise and it's always fun to see acts that are on the same bill sampling each other as a sort of tribute. The crowd continuously ate up remixes of Justice's "Phantom Pt. 2" and "Let There Be Light" and MGMT's "Kids," "Electric Feel" and "Time to Pretend" - all stemming mostly from the Ed Banger crew. Speaking of the times, Hard Halloween being an all ages event also showed the downward direction the electronic scene is sadly going in. Despite your hardcore fanatics who know what time it is, you had the underage kids wearing practically nothing splattered all over the place, huddled in little "e circles" or stumbling around trying to figure out which way is up. Hopefully, the kids will realize that it's really all about the music and not just taking as much you can and seeing how far it can take you. Moderation is key, and you have to find your flow with the music.

Soulwax :: 10.31 :: Los Angeles
This evening's seemingly "main event" was the French duo Justice. The much heralded pair came to the stage wearing masks over their eyes, and started their set with an a capella mixing of "The Party," which turned into dizzying danceable beats that had everyone enraptured. Following a mix of "My Head" by Boyz Noize via Para One, the boys threw a bit of Soulwax's "NY Excuse" into their own "Phantoms," which got their crowd of worshippers jumping as high as they could. Around mid-set, after "DVNO" and a version of "Stress," the sound went out. The cause and reason was unknown, but the massive buzzkill was felt everywhere, with people looking around and wondering if they could do something, anything, to bring it back. Once it was back after an excruciatingly long minute, it was like they hadn't lost a beat. Dropping Armand Van Helden's "Funk Phenomenon" just simply needed to be seen in order to be believed, and to have it mix into Justice's own "We Are Your Friends" combined with Daft Punk's "Together" as the cherry on top was a sadistic joke in the most pleasurable sense.

Sadly, we had to miss Boyz Noize for Justice, and in turn missed most of Deadmau5 and Crookers as well. Bits and pieces were seen, and all seemed to be going off the chain. It goes to show that sometimes you just need to pick your battles. So, the story goes at an all night event such as this. Busy P went on at around 3 a.m., but at that point, everyone seemed to be in a daze. Zombies walked about and bodies were strewn everywhere, simply too drained to move. Most stages had a crowd going but nothing close to mere hours earlier. At 3:15 a.m., Barry Weaver helped close out the evening, which had an official 4 a.m. end time. Spinning at the Trick or Treat Stage close to the exits, we decided to give dancing one last go so we could say we made it all the way. Not knowing who he was at the time (we called him "DJ Normal Guy"), we were quite impressed with his skills. He kept the beats going just strong enough to keep us there but not as hard as the rest of the evening's pace. His final mix ended to the sounds of the Halloween theme, and we lapped it up like dogs.

Justice :: 10.31 :: Los Angeles
Deadmau5 :: 10.31 :: Los Angeles
Simian Mobile Disco :: 10.31 :: Los Angeles

Soulwax - "Robot Rock" into "Phantom Part II" at HARD Halloween

JamBase | Southern California
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[Published on: 11/12/08]

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if rhymes were valiums... starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/12/2008 05:24PM
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if rhymes were valiums...

looks/sounds/reads like a dope time...

Roswellznutsack Wed 11/12/2008 07:56PM
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My friends, forget about those hippy fests like Bonaroo, or the over-hyped indie fest which is coachella, or any other fest for that matter! This was the shizzle!!! Best even ever...HELLO!!!

radarlin starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/12/2008 09:49PM
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Being a midwesterner for 22 years of my life and Jambase enthusiast for years I have seen a good chuck of the scene. Summer Camp, Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, All Good, ect i was along for that ride. Then moving to the West i got even more cultured in music. I couldn't agree with the author more about "the electronic music and "jam-based" fare are fusing." That is because of people like you and me who have been on both sides of the railroad tracks. People are staring to get it. You are either on or off the train for this ride. I highly suggest you buy your ticket and get the fuck on......HARD........DJ AM was maddd sick and his set AFTER the daft punk set was one of my favorite sets of the nite. So Me, Soulwax, and Justice as well get top prizes. The raver kids were a joke but the music was not. I am hooked and i want more soooo bad. Thank God i am seeing my Justice New Years in Chicago. Love it.

theguykeator Wed 11/12/2008 11:09PM
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I like me some funky tunes. reminds me of the Egg a little bit.

ScIFreak Thu 11/13/2008 06:38AM
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Parsonsgoggles starstarstarstarstar Thu 11/13/2008 07:29AM
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ScIFreak wrote:"A shitty electro festie doesn't compare to the variety you get at these festies.

^Yep, 10,000 peeps must be wrong, how could they have a good time when it wasn't a festival you deem as being worthy. What were they thinking...

okfunkjunkie starstarstarstar Thu 11/13/2008 08:46AM
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I can't believe there was no mention of how DJ AM almsot died in a plane crash a month or so ago.

deadhead1421 Thu 11/13/2008 09:01AM
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refer to last line of first paragraph- "The fest also brought out DJ Am, who was back in action only one month after being injured in a plane crash"

RichardHaley Thu 11/13/2008 09:02AM
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okfunkjunkie: did you not read the article? first paragraph: "The fest also brought out DJ Am, who was back in action only one month after being injured in a plane crash - with a little trick up his sleeve no less."

Wrechords starstarstarstar Thu 11/13/2008 11:59AM
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Man I wish festivals would beef up their electronica like this. This looks like it was insane! Wish the economy didn't suck or I would've been there!

krsmall starstarstarstarstar Thu 11/13/2008 12:38PM
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Great review and this looks amazing!! I cannot wait to see Justice on New years in chicago

paulygparty Thu 11/13/2008 02:21PM
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Yeah, classic for sure.

Anyone know if anyone was recording the sets? Any torrents out there?

Sixmilliondollarman Thu 11/13/2008 02:47PM
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jcolb16 Thu 11/13/2008 03:46PM
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deadmau5 is taking over. nobody knew his name a couple years ago, now he is ontop of the world. amazing live concert. a must not miss if he is anywhere near you.

snausages Thu 11/13/2008 07:21PM
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JUSTICE! AHHH i can't wait for nye!!!

scottishbeta starstarstarstarstar Sat 8/22/2009 12:48PM
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Great article and a GREAT show, but what is the deal with the upcoming Halloween show? An undisclosed location? Not to mention that they've lost all of the big name artists except Justice.