HARD Summer Music Festival Review

By Brandy Miceli on August 7, 2016

As a fourth-year attendee of HARD Summer, one of the most popular music festivals in the nation, the anticipation of the 2016 event was inescapable. The killer lineup, new venue, and conversations of anticipation with friends set the tone for the event.

After traveling six hours in the car, bumping my favorite headliners’ tunes with some of my best friends, and finally arriving at our cheap hotel just in time for the festival, we couldn’t be more ready. The special moments throughout the event have now reframed as memories to reflect on.

The nostalgia sets in as HARD-Summer goers reminisce on the fun times they had in Southern California this past weekend. HARD Events threw their first festival in 2007 in Downtown Los Angeles, and has since put HARD Summer on the map and radar for people who love electronic dance music (EDM), despite its many changes in location. HARD Summer 2016 took place on July 30-31 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

This review includes the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of this event in comparison to its previous years.

Porter Robinson Live at HARD Summer on Sunday, July 31 2016. (Image via Brandy Miceli)



HARD Summer has always been known for hosting artists that go hard, or play certain genres of EDM that fans consider exciting. This year certainly did not compromise that message. Every set was on point — or thoroughly enjoyable. It truly felt like all the artists stepped up their game for this show.

Even the softer, feel-good artists like Madeon and Porter Robinson were playing sounds that went harder than anything I’ve heard from them before. While the music was certainly amazing, it would have been nothing without the community this event provided.


This year, a sense of community was more present than in the past. Everyone was smiling, dancing and laughing, which made the environment very supportive of having an awesome time. There’s nothing worse than people with bad vibes and bad intentions.

This year I went with my two cousins, my boyfriend, and my roommate, and the connection I experienced with each of them was touching. Either people are becoming happier with their lives, or this event was the perfect spot for connection. I walked away from this event closer to my friends and family than ever before.

The music producers also instilled within us this sense of community. Some artists proclaimed their excitement for being at this event, which really got the audiences pumped. Dillon Francis, a popular producer who has influenced HARD’s social media campaign and provided publicity to the event through ridiculous humor over Snapchat and Instagram, said during his set, “How does it feel to be at one of the best music festivals in the world?” The crowd went wild.



At some point in the day, everyone was bound to have an unfavorable experience with security. Some were inconsiderate and rude. They herded us around like a bunch of sheep, threatening that if we didn’t stop complaining about the ridiculous heat and outrageous wait times while begging for them to let us in to get water and shade, they would “call their supervisors.” One can only imagine what that means.

Considering we paid anywhere from $180-225 per ticket far in advance to attend the event, their claimed abuse of power was extremely offensive and completely unacceptable. Some security guards were good spirited, as well were the Sheriffs on duty. That itself should be a lesson of good management next year. Festivals welcome festivity.

Every entrance to a new side of a gate was a disaster because of the way they funneled us through these tiny little openings. It sounds great to have the crowd under control and all, but keep in mind this is an event that 146,997 people paid to be at to see artists that they’ve been longing to see. Spending hours in lines and being pushed around a crowd only to miss certain artists should not be a part of any attendee’s agenda. The security aspect of this festival needs to change.


Although this wasn’t the most pressing issue at the event, the free water stations provided water that tasted like straight chlorine. When you’re in the heat of high 90s and dancing, it’s so important to stay hydrated. Yet it actually felt dehydrating to drink this water, which led to people spending $4 per bottle of water, or not drinking enough water at all and risking overheating. It’s also certain that other factors led to dehydration.


Drugs and Extreme Heat. 

The absolute worst part about this festival was the loss of life that occurred here. Three young California residents died, and while the causes of death have not been identified, it makes everyone realize how dangerous party drugs can be, especially combined with extreme heat. The last thing anyone wants is to lose someone they’re close to, which is why it’s undeniably important to be responsible when partying, drink plenty of water, watch over those around you, and speak up if something doesn’t seem right.

Nonetheless …

On behalf of all HARD Summer attendees, we feel sad that we lost members of our community — one that feels like home. Despite these tragedies and other negativities, memories of HARD Summer 2016 will live on forever. This event is always one for the books and will continue to be one of the most favorable events amongst the electronic dance community.

The countdown until HARD Summer 2017 starts … NOW!

Brandy is a freelance journalist, the print managing editor for Xpress Magazine, an editor at The Borgen Project, an intern at Project Censored, a feminist, a yogi, a cheesemonger, and a free thinker.

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