Story by: Jordan Calvano
Photos by: Amanda Cain (amandajcain.com)
On November 1st and 2nd, HARD came through once again with another memorable weekend that encapsulated wild music, good people, and a scenic venue. Day Of The Dead brought artists from around the world to Pomona, California, and gave fans a chance to experience a constant flow of diverse artists on five stages across The Fairplex. Hard decisions were made left and right, and there were times where we could be seen running back and forth between stages trying to catch our favorite artists. We caught a lot of good music throughout our two days there, so it was touch when we decided to narrow down our top ten performances. We stuck with artists that truly pursued creativity, ditching the idea of what a festival set should sound like and just going for it. Here were the crème de le crème of Day Of The Dead 2014.
Performing at the 7UP Green Stage on Saturday, Snakehips laid down some smooth afternoon vibes that perfectly set the mood for the rest of the night. The UK duo’s set gently tiptoed between hip-hop and garage grooves, weaving in songs from Goldlink and Vic Mensa with their own remixes of Bondax, Wild Belle, and Banks. Snakehips also topped everything off by delivering a little Mr. Carmack, then ending with “After I Met U.” They didn’t try to overwhelm the audience, but instead kept it more mellow and immersed the crowd.
9. Just A Gent
Although the crowd hadn’t fully funneled in just yet, Australian boy wonder Just A Gent was able to rally up the solid group of people who did show up. There was no shortage of electricity in his set, playing music from genres all over the board including his own remixes of The Ashton Shuffle, ZHU, Nick Jonas, The Chain Gang Of 1979, Peking Duk, and multiple songs of his upcoming Stories To Tell EP. He also dove into some Flume, Wave Racer, Lido, Kill Paris, and Haywyre, all while wearing a fancy ass suit and top hat.
The 7UP stage was definitely the place to be early Saturday afternoon. You had Sweater Beats, Stwo, Giraffage, and Snakehips. You couldn’t deny the good feels, and Stwo undoubtedly left the place steady rocking out. The French producer gave fellow HW&W producer Sweater Beats a big hug in passing, and then let loose the future vibes that included music from Flume, What So Not GANZ, and Mr. Carmack. Stwo also dove into his own remixes of Cashmere Cat and Sango, all before Giraffage popped up in an over easy-egg costume.
7. Djemba Djemba
There was no performer who so obviously enjoyed the hell out of performing at Day Of The Dead more than Djemba Djemba. The producer kept jumping on the microphone, riling the crowd up, and just letting loose in general. He was bringing the heavy and weird vibes for sure, confusing some while dropping his remix of “Void” and an unleashed collaboration with RL Grime, Bobby Shmurda, his remix of AWE, and a memorable rendition of Kanye’s “We Don’t Care.” He was willing to take risks, and they paid off.
6. Zeds Dead
We’ve seen the almighty Zeds Dead many times over the years, and almost decided to try something knew. At the last second, it was decided that we would catch at least some of their set. You can imagine how that turned out. The Canadian duo effortlessly weaved through a manifold of genres, dabbling in dubstep, trap, hip-hop, deep house, and even a little rock. Highlights included remixes of Jack U, Blue Foundation, and Marina And The Diamonds, along with songs from JAUZ, Danny Brown, Sigma, The Prodigy, and Jimi Hendrix.
Although the absence of Rustie due to sickness was clearly disappointment, we were more than content when Branchez played an extended set to fill time. The New York producer was literally on fire, holding nothing back while busting out Rick Ross, ILoveMakonnen, Goldlink, Baauer, and Young Thug. These tracks set the tone, but Branchez also dished out his own remixes of Rihanna, What So Not, Brownstone, and an unleashed song that “Only my Mom and like 3 of my friends have heard.”
4. Moody Good
Easily one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend was from Moody Good. The bass music producer and former 16bit member has been embarking on an already successful solo project, and his first North American tour date proved he could captivate an audience. His UK influenced, often dub leaning sound definitely got lost on certain members of the crowd at times, but it was exhilarating to see most people digging their teeth right into it. Highlights of the set were his remixes of Slum Village, and Yogi, originals like “Hotplate,” and songs from Skrillex, MUST DIE!, and Flosstradamus.
Nobody brought the evil vibes like the dark lord of the underworld Gessafelstein. No words, just cigarette smoke, and genre crushing techno. The French producer took on the warehouse setting of the Pink Stage, pumping up the volume and unleashing the unrelenting heavy from start to finish while hurling songs from Aleph into the audience. Crowd favorites were “Hellifornia,” “Hate Or Glory,” and “Pursuit,” but each song turned innocent bystanders into pillars of salt with each pulsating drop. To recap, it was the most evil and badass thing Pomona has ever experienced.
No producer’s set possessed more hype than the nameless and faceless ZHU. A trail of mystery has surrounded everything he’s ever done, and his chance to prove all the haters wrong took place on Saturday night. The scene was set, people were talking, and ZHU clearly did no disappoint. The blogs might have claimed there were different opinions on his set, but everyone we talked to was more than happy with his set. The only bit of disappointment we heard was people saying “I just wish I would have watched more.” He dropped “Faded” a few times, that crazy Outkast remix, and the “Thriller” cover heard around the world. Respect.
1. Deadmau5 b2b Eric Prydz
Another set that the Internet was clearly buzzing about was the b2b performance between Deadmau5 and Eric Prydz. Closing out the night on their curated Mau5ville stage, the two legends gave the crowd a 2-hour set that was surprisingly more energetic and less deep than we might have expected. Don’t get us wrong, Prydz was still digging deep into some extended break sections, but the overall mood had more upbeat moments than we expected. Crowd favorites included “Strobe,” “Pjanoo,” “Laser Beams,” “Ghosts N’ Stuff,” Cirez D, and much of the new Deamau5 album. Basically, it was like heaven and the whole experience felt surreal.
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