Yesterday’s news created quite the stir up in the dance music industry. Gary Richards aka Destructo, HARD father, whatever nick name you have for him, has come to the end of the road with his affiliation and contract with Live Nation, who have owned the HARD brand since 2012. Early rumors and speculations ended with a confirmation from Gary Richards’ social media that his last HARD event will be the 10-year anniversary HARD Summer Festival taking place at the Glen Helen Amphitheater this weekend. He went on to say that he would also not be curating the infamous cruise party, Holy Ship, that has a deeply rooted community known as ShipFam.
Fans of the HARD brand, ShipFam, and a slew of DJs and musicians that have worked with Gary sounded the alarm when the news dropped. It was a mixture of support for his new forthcoming projects to nostalgia of past event attendances/performances, some of which ended in a complete protest against Live Nation itself. It poses the question buzzing in my mind: Can there be HARD events without Gary Richards leading the charge?
Whether Gary was ousted by Live Nation, or he left to pursue his current venture, his social media announcement seemed to have ended the business relationship on good terms and showed no malice. We can praise Gary on several facts: he gave countless DJs and musicians the opportunity to perform in Los Angeles, he helped bridge rap and hip-hop industry with dance music (festival bookings or collaborations), and curated a culture that fans and artists standby. On the flip side, you could argue the most recent past HARD events on the west coast have been logistical nightmares. His flagship summer festival, HARD Summer, has seen 5 venue changes within the last 5 years. While it always comes down to the music with Gary, festivals on that grand of a scale can be difficult to manage when you have a new venue every year. To make matters worse were the resulting deaths that would be reported and confirmed causing a hailstorm of news headlines plaguing the brand and culture even more. Holy Ship has been a huge success selling out instantly, while the west coast HARD events digs itself into a deeper hole year after year.
Los Angeles has a handful of festivals that are still hosted within the city (FYF, Air + Style) and the presence of electronic dance music in those festivals continue to increase. And yet large scale ‘EDM’ affiliated festivals such as HARD Summer and Insomniac’s Wonderland experiences are completely pushed out to San Bernardino. If we are to take anything from yesterday’s news, it’s that Gary Richard’s end with Live Nation signifies a turning point in dance music; for better or worse, that is still yet to be determined.