It is a strange thing getting older. In honesty, it really kind of sucks. The good days of not having to work, or having to really care about anything are gone. I have to work 5 days a week, pay bills, and be concerned about things going on in the world. I have to be responsible. In actuality, responsibility is good. There is something else that is good though- something that a lot of my friends forgot about, something that keeps people from wanting to put a bullet in their head to escape their humdrum boring lives. That something is the ability to absolutely go fucking bonkers.
Let me specify what I mean by that. I do not mean running rampant on a bunch of nerds, or renting a van to mow down innocents. Going Bonkers in my eyes, is pure bliss. It is waking up in the morning and having a beer for breakfast. It’s smoking so much pot that you almost believe in God. To me, it is mother fucking HARDFest.
HARD is the one time a year I can go completely crazy. It brings me back to my younger days. I forget about how old I might be getting, and the job that really kind of sucks. HARD is a weekend of beers, and pot, and some of the best music in the EDM scene. And really it means a Hell of a lot. Every year for the last 5 years, the one and only Bryan Kern(Cry Guy) and myself load up and head out. As soon as the car is loaded and moving down the road, nothing else matters. I switch in to what Cry Guy calls “Rage Mode” and I know for the next 48 hours- I am young again.
When people hear that I go to HARD, they ask me what it is. “Is it a Rave?” Honestly. I don’t fucking know what HARD is. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter. HARD is fun, it’s innocence, it’s Hedonism. HARD is a total fucking mess.
As I enter the people are always the first thing I notice, the girls in their bikini tops and far too short of shorts, the guys “peacocking” trying to look their best (the Turinabol helps). Then there is Cry Guy and I. Hawaiian Shirts and Safari hats setting out on the adventure of the weekend. We think we look cool as Hell, we probably look like 2 fucking Jabronis. We casually stroll the event for the first hour or so trying to figure out what exactly in the fuck is going on. Eventually we find our groove and settle in to the party. This last year it involved me getting so epically stoned, I think I described it as me flying on an Eagle through the highest levels of Heaven. (Thanks to that broad asking me if I was okay and totally killing my buzz. Special thanks to Say My Name for bringing it back.)
As I get older, every new HARD brings a slew of new questions. One of them is the same year after year. That question: Who are these performers? I miss the DJ’s of my younger days, but am always impressed by what I end up seeing. There is plenty of new (in my eyes) talent year after year, but also some classic throwbacks. This past year it was Felix Da Housecat, the year before, my all-time favorite, Colette B2B DJ Heather. Don’t let me down on some classic stuff this coming August HARD.
In short, I really just want to say Thank You HARDFest. The complete beautiful mess you are, is a wonderful experience. The 2 days of nonsense you provide is like a beacon in the night, to the strange, weird, and unstable people looking for a release of the everyday bullshit.
See You Next Year. — JJ Custer
As the last school year ends, my long, slow, summer of eight weeks of nothingness begins. I always have the goal of getting in shape, and going to see the Cubs in Chicago. Instead, I make it about a week of eating good food and exercising, then the heat kicks in and I find solace in floating in a pool and drinking ice cold beers. It is glorious.
As I float and pop tops on my frothy beverages, I realize that I am working out. I am working on my HARD Summer stamina. Let me clarify this, HARD Summer is work. It takes work to drink beers basically non stop for 48 hours. A man can not simply do that without a lot of work. This probably makes me sound like a drunk, and I simply couldn't care less. For 8 weeks leading up to HARD I am drunk and it is Glorious!
Sure there is more to HARD than just being drunk, but for me it is a showcase of my drunkenness. I am able to dance, shimmy, and shake without falling over or barfing all over the place. I can fancy foot around, doing my patented 2 step (something else that gets lots of practice as I drunkenly dance to my fridge for another cold brew) for hours without succumbing to the haze in my brain from my beers (and other substances).
At the event the first stop is always the beer booth. The beer always tastes better here and it better for as much as it costs, but it is worth the experience. The music is good, but it is better with beer.
As my can runs empty the music plays louder and I look at Cry Guy and exclaim, "LET'S GET ANOTHER! YOU FUCKIN FRUIT!" And off we traipse, two handsome fellas in snappy outfits, to the beer line where we will inevitably pop another top and start again. This will continue for the better part of two days. Between days, beers will be had for breakfast. Well, I will have beers, Cry Guy will need his Cold Brew Bullshit. Fuckin’ guy can't even drink hot coffee like a real man. But anyway, this turkey got me off track with his cold brew. Anyway, like I was saying, beer is everywhere during HARD Summer and I will be indulging.
So HARD Summer as I sit here and type this. I am going to crack open this beer and take a nice long sip. I will then smack my lips together and with an "AHHHHHH!" I say, "To HARD Summer, this one, is for you. Cheers you glorious bastards, to two days of music, fun, and shenanigans! I'll be seeing you soon.
— JJ Custer
I come to you my internet friends, a humble man. I am humbled for several reasons. Humbled by life and all its moving pieces. Daily interactions of smiles and head nods, dirty looks and road rage, all the chaos and order that emphasize life and what comes with it. In this journey of humility I have come to realize that certain experiences are necessary. Necessary for the betterment of humanity, the progression of love, and for the easing of our souls. One of these experiences is of course HARD SUMMER.
I was first introduced to HARD in the year 2013 with the help of my friend and brother Josh “JJ” Custer. Josh is a burley man who enjoys beer, sports, and dancing his fucking balls off. If that description doesn’t get you moist, there may be no hope for you, but that’s for another discussion. Anyway, as I was saying, I was invited by my guy to what he described as one of the best parties he’s ever been to. My experience with raves and that whole dance scene up until that point was a few warehouse parties and one night where I snuck into Coachella. Now, I know HARD isn’t the biggest or baddest rave on the planet, especially form a hype perspective, but it is definitely an experience that needs to be had. The music, the friendships, the pasties and drug riddled comas are all customary and welcomed as you enter these two day of “beautiful madness”
The first year I attended HARD SUMMER was at Whittier Narrows in Whittier, California. I remember the day vividly. It was a little after 2:00 pm and we had just ordered an Uber to come grab us from our hotel. With us was about 8 pre-rolled medical grade joints (still illegal at the time) 7 White Hello Kitty’s and 8 Blue Nike’s. On the ride there, the Uber driver ever so kindly offered us a light and took us on our merry way. As time began to slow and the haze began to take over I remember thinking to myself, “Im ready” for what I had no fucking clue but I was ready nevertheless.
The feeling of readiness from that day has been coursing through my veins every year since then. Year after year August comes and goes and in that I find solace. I am at peace knowing that for a brief period I get to step away from my mundane existence as a retail manager, a normie, and step into a world of debauchery, music, and atmosphere like none other. At HARD I have made life long friends. I share hugs, high fives, and laughs with faces that I’ll never remember all while soaking in the sun and sounds that only Southern California can beautifully blend. What’s even more beautiful about this festival is how standard and basic it is. No $10,000.00 VIP tents, no crazy backstage access or hidden after parties to worry about. No, just a good old fashioned rave where people can be free to rage balls for a weekend only to return to their other ordinary lives come Monday morning.
There is something magical about HARD SUMMER. I don’t know what it is, If I had to guess it would probably be the copious amount of drugs and alcohol one consumes but I could be wrong. However, what I do know is that every year HARD SUMMER is there without fail. It’s is a nurturing and turbulent ride that brings me a balance like none other.
Thank you HARD SUMMER and JJ for showing me a side of life I didn’t know existed. We have 30 days left until we meet again and when we do, it will be glorious. Let’s get weird!