Summer will be high in the sky as the luminaries of the hip hop, electro and indie rock worlds join forces under the HARD LA banner this July 17th. Here are some highlights from the upcoming festival:
Sleigh Bells has even the unexcitable excited because they sound like nothing else. Speed-pop metal with fuzzed out distortion over stomping riffs and soaring soprano vocals/fierce shouts. Sounds like the prettiest girl in school just went rabid. One day I was blasting them in my car and a bee flew in my window, got tangled in my hair, and stung the shit out of me (true story). That’s the kind of effect they have on nature: baffling and incendiary.
Theophilus London. How this too-cool Brooklynite is still under the radar is both a mystery and a crime. His mixtapes have been consistently interesting, featuring quick-witted rhymes coupled with a healthy dose of sly humor that never goes senseless over big beats that keep hips twisting and heads shaking at how GOOD he is. Extra props for his recreation of Elvis Costello’s This Year’s Model cover for his recent release, This Charming Mixtape.
Upon first hearing Die Antwoord, I thought they had to be a prank; a really hideous but amazingly talented joke. Embracing the cringeworthy and the trashy, this South African rap makes meth looks chic. The challenge they seem to have accepted for themselves is to make music as perturbing as their appearance, a sort of speed hangover dubstep. Challenge overcome.
M.I.A. makes her first festival appearance since supposedly going into retirement, giving birth and dropping her new album, Maya, on July 13th. It promises to be a sacred pilgrimage to the most faithful fans of her self described “other” style. Never bested, though often copied and tested, M.I.A.’s infamy is sure to “Galang” for years to come.
In continuing with the abbreviated handles, N.E.R.D. aka Pharrel Williams and Chad Hugo aka “No-one Ever Really Dies” is supporting the release of their fourth studio album, Nothing. Don’t call it a comeback, ‘cause Pharrell actually has been here for years, producing hit albums under the Neptunes and N.E.R.D. monikers. Their live set promises to be a transcendental funk of the mind.
Ninjasonik hail from Brooklyn and are looking for a party. Hip hop and stoner rock call a conference and blow green smoke on your lobes. You will find the crunk when Jah Jah, Telli and Teenwolf hit stage right, son.
The Gaslamp Killer, LA’s William Bensussen, is a quite moody one man chop shop, rearranging sounds in a vintage hip hop style, with an undefineable and ephermeral menace—the sounds of Squeaky stalking the hills with a rhytmic fortitude.
Flying Lotus is Steve Ellison—whose great aunt is Alice Coltrane (!)—an L.A. RECORD favorite and cover alum glitching beats way above the pack.
Rye Rye is the namesake for foundation shaking bootie jams from Baltimore’s own Ryeisha Berrain, signed to M.I.A’s N.E.E.T. label and her underage protege.
London’s Switch is a club dj and first class remix master. Let him show you how to shake your ass.
Joker is a dubstep prankster who sets a mood of futuristic alienation and transformative beat funk who sucks you into the game with tracks like Tron, bathed in synths and air dried with some pretty sick beats.
12th Planet brings the sounds of dubstep, Skream, Benga, and the DMZ movement to planet Earth, and defintely does not come in peace.
Borgore is an Israeli musician and proponent of “gorestep,” melding metal and hip hop to remix your unholy expectations.
KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic DJ grandmaster and taste maker Jason Bentley brings the music to masses by day and turns superhero at night.
LA’s own DJ and producer Destructo is the patron and organizer for the evening, sure to make a joyful noize behind the decks and into your subconscious.
Self described as “psychic crunk,” the people who brought you Wildness at the Silver Platter, Nguzunguzu assault your sensibilities with electronique global music.
For more information: http://www.hardfest.com/index.php
—Eyad and Amanda Karkoutly