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Hard Summer music festival plans July return. Will more California concerts follow?

A dense crowd of fans at an outdoor summer concert.
Fans at Hard Summer in 2016, when social distancing was a concept most of us couldn’t imagine.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Music festivals might be back in Southern California as soon as July.

Organizers from Live Nation announced Tuesday that Hard Summer, a staple fest for EDM and hip-hop, would return July 31 and Aug. 1 at the National Orange Show Event Center in San Bernardino. The fest would be one of the first large-scale music events to resume operation in the L.A. area.

The lineup includes Future, recent Grammy winner Kaytranada and breakout rappers Lil Durk and Iann Dior, among many others, over five outdoor stages. Tickets are slated to go on sale April 2 at 10 a.m., but there are still a lot of variables, to say the least, between now and the end of July.

Representatives for the festival declined to talk in depth about any COVID-19 safety protocols, but the fest’s status will depend on where San Bernardino County is on the state’s color-coded reopening plan. Concerts would be allowed under the state’s orange, or second-least-restrictive, tier at an outdoor-only 33% capacity. The NOS Event Center has a total capacity of 65,000.

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Currently, San Bernardino County is in the red tier, but on Tuesday Los Angeles and Orange County counties entered the orange tier (though L.A. is holding off until April 5 to ease restrictions). In the yellow tier — the least restrictive — outdoor concerts could resume at 67% capacity, while indoor shows would still be forbidden.

“HARD will be working closely with local officials to implement necessary safety precautions and will follow state and local health guidelines in place at the time of the event,” organizers said in a statement announcing the festival.

In January, SoCal’s marquee music event, the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, canceled its planned April return. New dates have not been announced, though it’s expected to be on hold until 2022.

Music venues have been closed since March 2020, but help is on the way: Clubs that qualify for federal grant money can begin applying on April 8.

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