Hard Summer 2011: Dubstep, Hipsters, DJs and Street Style

You know that post-concert buzz you get after seeing something really amazing? I’m still on that high after Saturday’s performances at Hard Summer here in L.A.

Ravers and hipsters united in Los Angeles Historic State Park for eight hours of throbbing dubstep basslines, groovy nu-disco beats and some of the best electronic music that’s out there right now. Destructo, aka Gary Richards, is the brainchild behind Hard, and he certainly put his electronic expertise to use when booking the festival — totally, totally nailed it with this lineup.

Check out Bebe Zeva’s Hardfest Street Style Gallery

With such an amazing roster of performers, it’s hard to decide which ones were the best. Whether you love electronic music, or are unfamiliar and need a place to start, here are my top five favorite acts from last night:

5. Jack Beats

Photo by derekx

Plus One and Beni G, aka Jack Beats, pleased crowds with their straight-up electro set. The DJ duo are established in the EDM scene in Europe, making their rounds regularly on BBC Radio 1. Having remixed everyone from Big Boi to La Roux, Jack Beats are just gaining momentum in the US, and are definitely one to look out for as electronic music makes its way deeper into American pop culture.

4. Busy Pictionary

Ed Banger labelmates Busy P and So Me teamed up for a special set called “Busy Pictionary” – Busy P DJed while So Me drew live improvised graphics in Adobe Illustrator to serve as a backdrop. So Me crafted illustrations of Busy P’s tracks as well as little messages to the audience, too! It was so cool to know that the performance was totally one-of-a-kind and special just for us. Busy P did put the L.A. crowd on blast a little, shouting into the mic “All you L.A. people only like dubstep! Show me you can get down with disco!” And “get down” the crowd did to his distinctly French nu-disco and electro beats, as inspired by veterans like Justice and David Guetta.

3. Duck Sauce

Photo by derekx

Right when the rise of nu-disco started to excalate, Duck Sauce dropped their track “Barbra Streisand” and the genre completely took off. I think the best gauge of a good electronic music set is how much the crowd is dancing — and dance they did. The duo, a collaboration between the established A-Trak and Armand Van Helden, put their audio treats over the edge with a giant blow-up duck in the middle of the stage. Not only was the crowd groovin’, but the DJs were, too! Check out Derek’s pic above.

2. Nero

Nero are genuine dubstep veterans. Hailing from London, the duo has seen the genre’s humble beginnings as the strange, wobbly step-child of euro-house to its success as an international phenomena. For the past seven years, they’ve been making citically-acclaimed and award-winning dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass-influenced music, and now they’re about to drop their first full-length LP on August 15th. Talk about a long time in the making! They wowed a tremendously overpacked audience with Dan on the decks and Joe MCing to the screaming crowd. Watch out for my interview with Dan, where he tells all about the upcoming album, how the US is re-defining dubstep and how it was to collaborate with fellow producer and Hard Summer performer Skrillex.

1. Ratatat

Photo by derekx

Okay, so ima be real y’all: I’ve been to my share of raves and club nights, but Ratatat was the reason I couldn’t miss Hard. And they did not disappoint. Their blend of indie and electronic sets them apart from the rest of the house- and electro-focused acts at Hard, and they showcased their instrumental talent with their live performance on drums, guitar and various flute-ish pieces. Not to mention the crazy graphics backing them up, with many-a cameos from their album-covering bird friends. Walking onto the field in front of Ratatat’s stage, for me, was a quintessential moment in this summer festival season. Twilight cast shadows over the crowd, a nice summer breeze swept through the park and Ratatat was at the healm, rocking out on stage, doing their thing.

Missed Hard Summer this year? Check out derekx‘s gallery of Hard Fest performances and see his fave rave street style!

Who’s the most life-changing electronic artist you’ve seen live?