HARD Summer. By, Bob Lefsetz (lefsetz.com)

Posted on August 5, 2012 by

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http://www.hardfest.com/hardsummer/

It was like I was invisible.

You always wonder in L.A., am I safe? This is the land of Rodney King, this is where there are fewer police per square mile and enough ethnicities to shoot a whole slate of MTV reality shows.

Yes, MTV made a conscious decision to show the black, the brown and the yellow, not only the white.

And they were all there last night.

I’d be worried if I had girls. Used to be the worst thing they’d do is roll up their skirts, put them way above the knee. But last night I saw barely-grown women dressed in all kinds of concoctions. Well, let me make it a bit clearer, UNDERDRESSED in all kinds of concoctions. Do they leave the house like this? Probably not. They probably say they’re spending the night at Susie or Sal’s…wait a minute, Jennifer or Madison’s, and then they put on their mesh stockings and spangled bras, don their furry hats and take the subway to HARD and make old men like me have our eyes bug out.

Yup, I could have been Bugs Bunny. You know, when his peepers extend a few feet? There were girls who Playboy would love to photograph, with their tits pouring out. And even though there was no water in sight, that didn’t mean string bikini bottoms were taboo.

And each one of these girls, a rainbow of colors, had a smile on her face, was dancing, was having an incredible time. You see going to the electronic music festival is a tribal rite, missing it would be akin to saying no to Woodstock. But a Woodstock with food trucks and plenty of porta-potties.

But it’s even better. Because each and every one of these kids knows each other. You see it’s the social generation. You may think it’s only online that everybody’s connected, but it carries over into the real world too. You could live thirty miles from your best friend. You go to the show and you’re better connected than Mark Zuckerberg. And old people just don’t get it.

Old people believe a show is an overpriced exercise where some old fart band or young lip-syncher performs onstage and everybody stands there statically, enchanted by these rip-off artists earning their private jets. Traditional concerts are so much about us versus them, the performers getting rich on the backs of their audience, that they’re seamy, about to collapse under their own weight. Pop acts can’t sell out stadiums. But electronic ones do. Because everybody’s in it together.

Kind of like Skrillex.

You know it stuns me when someone remembers my name. Furthermore, remembers the last time they’ve seen me. But that’s what Sonny did. In between phone calls. You see he was making sure his friends got in. And he’s the act! Didn’t he have someone to do this for him?

It’s an entirely different generation. It’s not the old men who have their e-mail printed out, but kids doing it for themselves.

And there were a couple of stages and a couple of tents. Multiple acts to experience and move your body to. It was a celebration of life. And I’m worried if someone’s gonna rip off my money or my valuables from the shorts I wore with way too big pockets. But when I was finally acknowledged, it was by a twentysomething with his shirt off who came up to give me a high five. There was no scariness here, this was a love-in!

My only regret is I’m not their age. That I cannot participate. When I used to leave the house everybody was on guard, pecking order was visible, whereas today’s generation is inclusive, they’re all in it together. The economy might suck, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a good time at the show.

1. Arenas

I’d say it’s a no-go for EDM. Because EDM is social, and an arena is not. But the honcho I spoke to backstage told me the reason Avicii failed in arenas was because he wasn’t big enough. He hadn’t paid his dues. In EDM, like the rock of yore, a couple of hit singles does not guarantee a vast sell-out. This is not Rihanna. Instead, you’ve got to get fans and grow them. And the way you do this is via word of mouth. All the press in the world isn’t gonna matter, has anybody seen them, were they good?

2. Brand Names

You’ve got to lose to make it. HARD was not always the moneymaker it is today. But now it’s an established name and people trust the curation, the infrastructure. EDM is not for rip-off artists, it’s for people who’ve paid their dues. In other words, if you think you can just book talent and everybody will come, you’re wrong.

3. The talent may not be primary, like at a traditional pop/rock show, but without headliners, you’re sunk. People will endure newbies coming up, but only if you guarantee someone they know and love will be spinning at the end of the night.

4. Production matters. Kids want to see the fancy lights, they expect them. This is part of the experience.

5. Turns out Electric Daisy is tarred with death, but not the rest of EDM. Two kids died ten days ago in Massachusetts, and there’s been no national outcry for the death of EDM. Hell, if you read the story, one kid was days away from rehab…he’d agreed to go. Maybe your life is your own personal responsibility. And as long as the promoter does everything in his power to eliminate drugs and underage drinking assuming he’s responsible is like assuming the pavement causes car accidents.

6. EDM is alternative. To all the made by assembly line, shoved down your throat crap plied by the old men of the media business. It’s no longer about having a relationship with the newspaper and the radio station, but having a relationship with the kids. In other words, a younger generation is rebuilding the music sphere. Thank god.

7. Think “event”, not “concert”. That’s the business promoters are in today. The talent deal is important, but that’s not the end of your responsibility. You’re creating an environment, for people to spend hours in and have a good time. The days of mistreating the customer just so he can get a glimpse of a momentary star are done.

8. There were roving sellers of drinks. You never had to go far for a porta-potty. There was gourmet food as well as pizza and garlic fries. You get a choice. And isn’t it interesting that you can get better food at a temporary outdoor show than you can at the arena, than you can at the amphitheatre. It’s time to show the customer some respect.

9. When done right, EDM makes your body move. You can’t help but shake your leg, do a little twist, go back and forth. And as the lights swirl and the music pumps you get that feeling deep inside that you’re alive. People are not sheep. Automatons programmed to eat and sleep and color between the lines. Life is about inspiration, taking risks as well as testing limits. It’s about the possibilities, not just the drudgery. And when I went to HARD Summer last night, I felt all this.

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