Is it right to call Hard Summer a dance music festival anymore?
This year's installment of the fest -- rooted in EDM and dubstep but never totally beholden to it -- further underlines the genre-mixing habits of today's electronic music scenes.
This year's bill features the moody R&B ne'er-do-well the Weeknd and Skrillex and Diplo's deliriously adventurous Jack Ü project as headliners. The undercard is just as diverse, with a bevy of important contemporary rappers and hip-hop producers (Schoolboy Q, Young Thug, DJ Mustard, ILoveMakonnen), foundational '90s club-music acts (Chemical Brothers), indie-friendly fare (Caribou, Jamie XX, Ratatat) and a deep slice of better-than-average contemporary house music (Porter Robinson, Gorgon City, Jimmy Edgar).
It's Hard Summer's best lineup to date and a relevant refresh for a festival that had relied on heavy dubstep and big-room EDM for a bit too long in recent years. Hard -- now nestled beneath Live Nation's promotion mantle -- has also become self-aware in its attempts to elevate itself from the now-crystallized EDM fest grind. (Watch the silly, self-deprecating and slightly profane 2015 trailer video starring a disenchanted, mildly hysterical Dillon Francis here.)
The festival will once again stray from its longtime Chinatown home (the L.A. State Historic Park is still undergoing renovations) to the Fairplex in Pomona, the site of the most recent Hard Day of the Dead festival. Last year's summer edition drew 40,000 fans for each of its two nights.
The fest takes place Aug. 1-2, with tickets on-sale now. As American dance music fests move forward to find new sounds, Hard has suddenly sprinted to the front of the pack.