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Arts and Entertainment

Bigger, Stronger, HARDer: HARD Events Pushes into the Mainstream

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By Zach Bourque / Special to LAist

Powerhouse promoters HARD Events have never been ones to shy away from a party. But with a recent acquisition by Live Nation and an added emphasis on the mainstream, this party just got a whole lot bigger.

What was once a one-off, three-days-a-year production has now grown exponentially to include multiple day festivals, a full-on cruise, Hollywood endorsements and a worldwide presence that was really, excuse the pun, hard to imagine just three years ago.

Part of this push into the mainstream has been an emphasis on musical variety with their latest event, the HARD Summer Music Festival, which takes place August 3 and August 4 at Los Angeles State Historic Park in Downtown L.A.

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"We're always looking to book more rock acts," says owner/promoter Gary Richards, who signed indie rock heroes Bloc Party and Miike Snow to this summer's Friday lineup. "Each stage we have has its own sound, it's own style," he adds.

And he's not kidding. Funk legend Bootsy Collins, hip hop acts like Action Bronson and further indie rock sounds from Little Dragon will all provide interesting counterpoints to longtime techno veterans like A-Trak and Boys Noize.

2012 further expanded HARD's reach into a global brand with a Hollywood endorsement partnership with Sony Pictures release "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," in which HARD co-sponsored an international series of concerts in locations ranging from Chicago to Stockholm.

"His agent called me up, and Trent [Reznor, who composed the music for the film,] pitched me the idea at his house," says Richards regarding how the deal came to fruition. "I've always been a massive fan, so it was exciting for us to be involved."

Asking if we'd see more of this in the future, Richards was short and to the point: "We're not in the business of selling other people's products."

Further extending the brand's global reach, there will be a HARD stage at the Stereosonic Festival in Australia, a touring event that takes place this fall in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane.

In many ways HARD epitomizes the fairy tale success story of electronic music as a whole as the genre continues to expand into the mainstream. With poster boys like Skrillex and Deadmau5 providing tunes for HARD events for years, the continued push of electronic music into the bedrooms and iPods of Middle America will evolve as quickly as the promoters associated can provide. While it's doubtful we'll be seeing a HARD Gary Indiana Festival anytime soon, it's not nearly as absurd of an idea now as it was three years ago.

With the financial backing of a company like Live Nation, a huge international push and an added focus on making their events more of a legitimate festival, this is a brand that will continue to grow faster than the Skrillex hair epidemic of 2012.

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