Posted November 12, 2009 in
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Bloody Beetroots' Bob Rifo Photo by Holy Mountain

Killing It
HARD Haunted Mansion Haunts L.A.

Day one scoop by Jeff Larson (Hot Noise)
Photos by Rony Alwin (Rony's Photobooth)
Additional Photos/Videos by Holy Mountain, Ryan Powers, and Anne Lee

Halloween this year was celebrated a little different for throngs of electronic music fans in LA. The normal costumes you'd expect to see, you know, zombie Michael Jackson, the dude with the baby from the Hangover, etc., were replaced by Deadmau5 masks and almost-naked ravers.

Downtown Los Angeles transformed into a cross between a neighborhood Halloween blow out and full-fledged rave for the annual HARD Haunted Mansion featuring Justice, 2ManyDJs, Deadmau5, Modeselektor, Crookers, Bloody Beetroots, Basement Jaxx and many more. Despite the impossible bar lines (VIP tickets were eventually refunded due to the inaccessibility) and completely overwhelming crowd of ef'd-out teenagers desperately massaging each other somewhere near the bathrooms; the caliber of the performers outweighed all negatives to make for one of the most exciting collaboration of DJs at a single two-day event I've ever seen.

I was only able to come out to cover the second day of HARD, but was able to connect with SLC resident, DJ, and electronic music expert Hot Noise (Check his blog) for the day one highlights.

Reigning from the slightly more 'mainstream' side of electronic music, Deadmau5 headlined the first night of HARD with a surprisingly un-HARD set - besides a few well known-bangers, the set focused more on long builds and noisy breakdowns. The light-bar laden stage and lightshow was actually fairly well done, and while it wasn't in the realm of Etienne De Crecy or Daft Punk, it was mostly respectable with the exception of the CG 'maus5' heads that were straight-up lame. While it may seem I'm being hard on our rodent DJ friend, I spoke to a few Deadmau5 fans who shared some level of disappointment in the set (unless you happened to ask them during "Ghosts N Stuff").

The highlight of Friday, Italy's Bloody Beetroots played the best set at the festival, hands down. Anyone familiar with the minor, dark, and hard-hitting styles of Bloody Beetroots tracks such as "Butter" and "Warp 1.9" would not have a hard time imagining this as the perfect soundtrack to a halloween adventure.

Italy's favorite hardhitting electronic duo fit right into the Halloween Spirit, donning their signature Venom masks:

For day two of Hard Haunted mansion, I grabbed a few exceptional friends and rushed to The Shrine in the forms of Edward Scissorhands, Little Kitty, Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Aoki, and Mark Mothersbaugh (of Devo fame).

Here's a rundown of day two's highlights:

Giving the Bloody Beetroots a run for their money, Berlin's Modeselektor (read my Oct 2007 review of their album Happy Birthday here) taught the kids that you don't always have to play bangers to work a crowd into a frenzy - oh, and an on-stage alien autopsy doesn't hurt either.

Modeselektor @ Hard Haunted w/The Fantastic Nobodies from Holy Mountain on Vimeo.

Video by Holy Mountain

The ever-mysterious Major Lazer (uber-DJs Diplo and Switch) brought some of their latin music flair to the stage, complete with prison uniforms, rafter climbing, and an air-horned hyped-up version of everyone's favorite Pon de Floor. There was even some "errr" dancing?

Major Lazer from Holy Mountain on Vimeo.

Video by Holy Mountain

Basement Jaxx showed some of the younger kids how its done, accompanied by Vula Milanga (you know, from Red Alert "and the music keeps on playin.. on and on..."). The live vocals really livened up the set, which was actually solid all on it's own.

Everyone's favorite electro act from 07 headlined day 2: France's own Justice. Having produced one of the best electronic albums of the decade, the group has taken a bit of a step back, and the DJ sets, while solid, didn't reveal any exhilarating new material.

The "secret" guest for day two, 2ManyDJs (of Soulwax fame), really gave everyone a run for their money. No one can mix songs the way these guys do - a complete lack of genre-boundaries combined with a sixth-sense for party vibes creates an utterly mind-blowing set (Slayer into Dolly Parton is the classic example). Even their Justice mini-set was a bit more exciting than...well, Justice's set.

The epic end to the festival left most everyone in a state of mindblown ecstacy, with an overwhelming sense of iPod inadequacy compared to the exceptional tracks being blasted all weekend. HARD is setting a trend for music festivals to come. The momentum of electronic music producers has captured the attention of such a wide range of teen cliques that these events are no longer reserved for "ravers" or club-kids, but rather everyone who is sick of under-attended shitty shows and wants the music to be an experience that is about the fans and people in attendance who are there to dance, get fucked up, get fucked, or whatever. The time for timidly watching a band dance around on stage while you stand or mosh around like a neanderthal has past. Grab your disco biscuits and dancing shoes and get ready to have fun again.

Bloody Beetroots' Bob Rifo  Photo by Holy Mountain Steve Aoki. Photo by Rony Alwin Is double-sided tape a costume? Photo by Rony Alwin Justice. Photo by Rony Alwin   Siouxsie Sioux, Mark Mothersbaugh, hairy arms. Photo by Rony Alwin Usually running into the person you are dressed up as for Halloween is awkward. Photo by Rony Alwin