Electronic music festivals have come under attack recently. As we previously reported regarding the now infamous Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles, a young girl’s death has prompted municipal authorities in the area to scrutinize the practice of these gatherings and their safety. Far from new—whether it be “raves,” club shows or open-air festivals—the scene has always drawn controversy due to its association with illicit drug use. At various times even in the U.S., lawmakers (including our current Vice President) have proposed legislation aimed at curbing the ability of so-called “raves” to operate unfettered. Trying to pin down the dividing lines between electronic dance and what constitutes rave-centric music can be as hard as defining what punk music really is; ask any fan and the answer will be radically different.
Although the image of thousands dancing in below-radar warehouses to throbbing techno beats may be a seldom occurrence nowadays, electronic music as a whole has veered oddly close to the mainstream again, arguably even closer than the late 90’s period brought to life by much of the British big beat scene. And while The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim may never have quite cemented the widespread and enduring acclaim of the masses, the aggressive dance of the now is poised to attempt the same feat. Leading the charge in Los Angeles (along with Insomniac Events) has been the concert series Hard. After already canceling a slated M.I.A. headlining performance in Los Angeles under a cloud of dubious circumstances, their effort went to their Hard Summer event, headlined by the Belgian electro band Soulwax. Could the event, its fans and the promoter rise to the challenge and display why electronic dance belongs in the mainstream? Sadly, the answer is no.
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