THE BLOG
08/06/2014 05:42 pm ET | Updated Oct 05, 2014

Butt Cheeks Headlined at HARD Summer 2014

This past weekend, HARD Summer returned to Los Angeles and brought along some of the best electronic music artists of the moment -- including the newly formed Jack U, powerhouse Tiesto and electro-soul duo Disclosure. A fixture among the electronic music festival scene, HARD Summer has been attracting high-profile DJs and their controversial fans since 2007. This year, however, there were some major changes to the HARD dynamic: it was moved to Whittier Narrows Recreation Area (from LA Historic Park), more stages and tents were added to the grounds, and raver paraphernalia, including pacifiers, "kandi" and LED gloves used to perform light shows were barred entrance to the festival. By all appearances, HARD Summer was poised to stray quite a bit from its rave roots -- perhaps attempting to shed its deadly past and become more of a music festival and less of a rave. But don't be fooled: HARD Summer is very much still a rave.

As one of the first raves to gain mainstream popularity, it seems that HARD Summer isn't likely to shed its reputation anytime soon -- and frankly, it didn't seem to try as hard as anticipated, as I saw almost every single item on the banned list make its way past the "heightened" security. Notwithstanding the paraphernalia, it was clear that a hard-to-reach venue and longer list of prohibited items could not deter the dedicated HARD Summer fans from attending.

Once we finally made our way through the hour-long drive and security lines, the first thing I noticed was the abundance of scantily-clad females roaming the festival grounds. From pasties, to bedazzled bras, to full-on lingerie sets complete with garter belts, and most of all to booty shorts, the amount of skin being shown was a bit jarring -- even for my eyes, which have experienced quite a few music festivals in their days.

Surprisingly, though there was no shortage of skin, there was quite a shortage of leering; one of the most defining things about HARD Summer was that it was entirely non-judgemental -- unlike the see-and-be-seen environment of festivals like Coachella. Despite having to constantly remind myself not to stare at the brazenly exposed butt cheeks, stomachs and breasts, it was refreshing to be at a festival at which the community was accepting of everything from the dress code to the dancing (even mine, which is not anything to brag about). This is undeniably one of the most positive characteristics of the rave community -- that it is in fact a community.

Other highlights of the festival included the food trucks (I ate a s'mores melt from The Grilled Cheese Truck that pretty much made my day), the abundant free water refill stations, the rain showers and, of course, the incredible sets that had us scrambling from stage to stage. Drawbacks included the lack of conveniently located restrooms (the new venue was sprawling), the abundant dust, and and painfully long travel time in and out of the festival.

Check out the slideshow below to get up close and personal with HARD Summer 2014. Warning: explicit language and images.

HARD Summer 2014