HARD Haunted Mansion (popularly known as HARD Fest) is a two-day electronic music festival held annually during Halloween in LA. This year it is being held in the Shrine Expo Hall in downtown L.A. on Oct. 28 and 29.
The event, though widely attended by all fans of electronic and DJ music, has an audience base primarily of college students from Southern California. Gary Richards, a.k.a. Destructo, the CEO of the HARD concert brand and event producer of Haunted Mansion, said that much of the audience is flying in from various parts of the world including Brazil, Poland, and Uganda. “If you’re a fan who knows Soulwax’s ‘Nite Versions’ and 2manydjs’s ‘As Heard On Radio Soulwax’, there’s nowhere else on the planet you could possibly be on October 28 or 29,” Richards said.
Haunted House itself is a part of the HARD music festivals (HARD Summer Music Festival, Turkey Soup, and HARD 13) held throughout the year and was first officially held in 2008 on Halloween night. However, Richards said that HARD Haunted Mansion has much older origins.
“Twenty years ago, my partner and I used to produce underground parties in crazy locations in L.A.,” Richards said. “It was this wild taboo thing where young hipsters (actors, musicians) would come and hear electronic music and live DJ-ing for the first time… Then we started getting bigger and moving the whole concept into new venues.”
For fans, this is the ideal event since the focus of HARD Fest is primarily on music. The audience can listen to their favorite artists playing two nights in a row, from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. The festival will have two stages playing different performers at the same time. HARD has even arranged a discount with Sheraton Hotels for audience members staying overnight in L.A. to attend both days of the festival.
The organizers know that dubstep is the most popular genre amongst the concertgoers, and invite the best in that genre, such as Skrillex and Rusko, to play at HARD Haunted Mansion. Rusko has been drawing packed houses at concerts since his first live performance in 2009 and will appear this year with legends 2manydjs and Fatboy Slim.
Richards, himself a fan of electronic music, is highly involved in the selection process for performers and aims to add variety with artists from across the globe. “[I go] through all the music that comes out to find the amazing new stuff—local guys like Oliver. Or Paul Chambers (London) & Housemeister (Berlin),” Richards said. Some of the international artists chosen to perform at HARD Haunted Mansion have never performed in the U.S. before.
Some attendants relish the opportunity to listen to so many lauded artists in one night.
Electronic music enthusiast Ivan De Alba PO’13 said, “While HARD Fest only has only [two]… stages throughout the entire music event, Escape has several stages going all at once. So if you don’t like a certain artist that is playing at a stage, you can just go to any of the other stages. Along with the live set performances, there will also be a haunted house and other attractions to entertain the audience as they walk from stage to stage.”
Another popular techno music festival, Escape from Wonderland, will also be held on the same weekend as HARD Haunted Mansion. Escape from Wonderland is scheduled for Oct. 29 at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino.
David Pichardo PO’13 plans to attend both festivals this year. “I am a huge fan of electronic music,” Pichardo said. “I’ve passionately listened to it over the last couple of years. My favorite subgenres would have to be trance, house, and depending on the artist, dubstep.” Although Pichardo said he has been familiar with HARD Fest for a number of years, this will be his first year attending.
Pichardo, too, is looking forward to the Halloween weekend and added, “With great music, people, and incredible light/special effect displays, an event like this is always fun.”