On Thursday, July 31 the HARD team brought with it acts Samo Sound Boy, Destructo, Rudimental, Dillon Francis and NERO for its HARD Red Rocks series. We went. We also googled how glow sticks work.

Photo Credits: Brian Frederick and Instagram users @djaynes55 and @digaschmee

HARD Events is an institution in the electronic sphere and produces affairs worldwide such as the HARD Summer Music Festival, HARD Haunted Mansion, Hard Summer Tour and Holy Ship!. On Thursday, July 31 the HARD team brought with it acts Samo Sound Boy, Destructo, Rudimental, Dillon Francis and NERO for its HARD Red Rocks series.

While the show itself came with a force to be reckoned, the capacity level was about as dreary as the unseasonable weather. The unfortunate misstep didn’t at all dampen the mood of the passionate and thinly dressed EDM fans though, because the revelers still went hard and the emotional discourse of the attendees more than made up for low ticket sales.

Energy was high, fans were higher, and it marked another successful show to etch on to Red Rocks’ performance elite. Here are a few streamlined things that happened through the deafening evening:

March of the sober drivers

Entering the surreal landscape of Red Rocks Amphitheater always creates a certain kind of intimate euphoria. Coming off the highway and driving through the quaint town of Morrison is like a time-traveling experience back into simpler times when gun-duels superseded law and horsepower meant something else entirely. It’s then that the evening usually takes on new meaning away from reality and into the hallowed sanctuary of music nobility.

It’s easy to be high even before entering the venue because of it. That kind of bliss created by the surroundings is the grandest intoxication and should be the only turnt-upness that’s going on if there’s driving involved. Being drunk, stoned, high, whatever, will undoubtedly earn anyone that storied DUI. It’s no good.

For HARD, the parade of cabs and parent chauffeurs showcased one of two things. That people wanted more than just a clear-headed trip on this particular night, or that attendees were much too young to drive themselves with a carload full of friends. For the large majority it just simply appeared that sobriety wasn’t an option. Thinking ahead responsibly, however, was. It was good on everyone for taking the…high road. Get it? But seriously, it was well done with the alternative modes of transportation.

Singing in the mirror to multiply the crowd

Coming up the first batch of stairs at Red Rocks is a sonofabitch. It’s exhausting. Not only is every shirt completely drenched by this time, but also it’s often the point of realization that most of the crowd has been there longer. Finding a seat probably requires hundreds of more steps because capacity won. Damnit…

This wasn’t the case on this balmy summer night. The theatre was barren. Any cynical listener in the theatre would probably have sworn the music booming from the speakers was coming from none other than DJ Empty as Fuck himself. Because the place was empty as fuck.

It didn’t fill in much even after that…

The great bro invasion of the 2010s

Almost every basement-blog and media outlet in Colorado unsubtly slips in bigoted snark about bros and their particular taste in music. The hipster-bashing ship sailed a few months ago; so now it’s on to another hate-filled quest to eradicate groups of people who don’t think like all the others in the herd. Historically there have been words for this kind of thing in society, but what it sounds like is just this: Cowardice.

So what if you’re a bro? So what if your bros are bros? Should anyone care if someone identifies with something and acts accordingly? So a person rocks a tank top, speaks with a certain inflection, lifts three times a day and prefers the taste of protein powder to drive-thru. It’s life, and it’s theirs. Let the bros be bros and let the hypocrites drown in their own misguided bigotry. ¡POR VIDA!

Ravers are modern day hippies

Aside from the bros and their lovely bronettes there were also plenty of genre defining diehards that came to support HARD Red Rocks and its eclectic bill. ‘Raver’ is the appropriate nomenclature in this and it was supported when two hitchhikers (such a hippie thing to do) by the box office used it in conversation. They both referred to the event as a rave. So, there it is, the source is cited.

But even though the act of raving and many of its repetitive loops have been appropriated from the 90s, the simple fact remains is that ravers are the new-age hippies. With all the love, mind-expansion and compassion for fellow neighbors the only real difference is that hippies invented communes to avoid full-time jobs and ravers haven’t had to update their permanent address, ever. Flower power / PLUR – tomatoes / to-mah-toes.

On song sampling, or stealing, or whatever

Rudimental’s set was heavy in sampling other artist’s songs. It’s what it does. From Mystikal’s “Shake Your Ass,” to House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” to Pharrell’s “Happy,” it was like a Top 40 playlist threw up on stage.

On that though, it’s always the same tired rhetoric – people get frustrated when artists don’t use their own material, or wonder why some artists don’t write their own songs all the time. Coming down on EDM, or hip-hop, or whatever has teeth in the bite, but shouldn’t the same be said for when The Fray covers a Kanye West song and people blow their lid in excitement?

Yes, the Fray re-writing something to fit a genre is fundamentally different than copying / pasting into a playlist. But, does it matter in the end who does what while they’re on stage? Does everyone have to bicker? Can’t the world make music the one unifying thing we have, and drop the mind-numbing bickering?

Extra power-up points if you caught…

…Wayne, the dancing security guard’s wild dance off with DJ Locksmith of Rudimental. It’s the Red Rock icon’s bag, and there are plenty of YouTube videos to suggest that there is no better venue staff member anywhere else in the world.

Fucking glow sticks, how do they work?

Glad you asked, and no, it’s not an unforgiving god’s tears it has wept while the inescapable doom of existence creeps slowly towards our burdened and corrosive flesh pockets that are collected in silver vials by courageous bearden dwarves – as many have thought all along. In fact, it’s science!

A glow stick is made up of two chambers, one plastic and the other glass. Each holds in it a not-so-sophisticated chemical and a colored dye. The chemical inside the plastic portion is a mixture of the dye and diphenyl oxalate. The liquid in the glass tube (that you hear snap, when snapped) is hydrogen peroxide.

At chemical conception, most commonly enacted when a person is “peaking so hard right now,” the peroxide combines with the phenyl oxalate compound and the neat reaction between the different compounds causes a release of energy. Atoms in the materials are excited, causing electrons to rise to a higher energy level and then return to their normal levels. The sticks release energy as light when the electrons return to their normal levels. No duh, this is called chemiluminesence.


Dillon Francis and NERO brought the promised ruckus

It goes without saying that both Dillon Francis and NERO brought down the house in a chaotically effective way. The impressive DJ booth was set up to look like an exoplanetary iceberg projecting flashes of psychosis and seizure inducing colors. And cats, it also flashed images of Internet cats. Naturally.

Even though the event didn’t sell well, the crowd that was there was mushed up together so tightly that the frenzied unison still made the amphitheater feel full. There was plenty of room in the back, sure, but why choose the lonely desolation when it’s just as easy to squeeze up next to a sweaty tween stranger and dance away a night to remember? 

After all the successes of a show shouldn’t be measured by a few imaginary zeroes on a yearly statement, but rather the excitement felt in the performances at hand.

In that regard, HARD was a great success.