The powerful electronic tour-de-banger that is HARD came across the entire U.S. from their L.A. base to the New York City area with a show that was supposed to be unbelievable. Taking place on Governor’s Island, the mini-festival would have acts that — on paper — would bring a crowd to applause and enjoyment. From the fantastic Sleigh Bells, to dubstep OGs Skream & Benga, all the way down to M.I.A. (whose latest shows have been heralded as shambolic), it was a pretty packed bill. But what HARD didn’t realize what kind of restless and despicable fodder would surround the event, which would be diminished and demonstratively angst-filled concert-goers, irreparable staff relations and of course, bad bookings.
It started shortly after 3PM, where about 100 people were standing at the intersection of Wall & South Streets to get their ferry to Governor’s Island; the ferries were advertised to comes every 30 minutes, instead we got a 90 minute wait for a ferry that took us to the wrong pier at Governor’s Island. Once on the island, misdirection came about as it took over a half hour to figure out the exact route of the concert site, as well as denying the proper and easiest walking route to get there. Finally, after getting scolded by on-site contacts in a veracious manner over a problem they caused, we were inside the HARD grounds. What awaited us there was a mix of blandness, belligerence and brand name bass bombing.
Ninjasonik was on the “Harder” side-stage after a solid set from Cali-based mutant-funky act NGUZUNGUZU, and they tried as best as they could to keep the crowd into it and on-point for what was next. Instead, it was a bored crowd of 15-17 year olds, screaming for dubstep and electro. Noticing a livelier crowd, our eyes set to the main stage, where HARD resident Destructo was playing bangers and mash. It was half-decent at best and the crowd was into it, but it had no chance on helping out with the next act. Baltimore club queen Rye Rye took the stage and …performed; trying to keep the energy of anger-filled, abrasive and astoundingly negative kids at a somewhat decent level before the next act, which would be UK legends Skream and Benga. Finishing her set, the dubstep duo came on-stage and played what the event embodied: HARD tunes. The problem was even though this was the peak of the night’s energy (aside from closer M.I.A.), it was a dark and disturbing energy. The crowd formed moshpits, similar to a shoddy hardcore show, but definitely more cringe inducing. Seeing kids elbow each other, punch each other in the ribs and break a 15-year old girl’s nose (with no apology), it was becoming noticeable that the night was going to continue to go in a shit direction. Shifting away from the main stage, the sidestage had Tel-Aviv filthstepper Borgore playing, and not impressing anyone with his bland, boring tune selection.
Seeing and hearing what was around us had made us reach a limit that pushed us out of the site. We were glad, as we saw a beer vendor throw an empty bottle at a kid and screaming expletives that are definitely not friendly to write here. Taking the long walk and ferry back, the line for the oncoming ferry to Governor’s Island was close to a thousand people. It was worth leaving and avoiding the carnage that would’ve ensued. If you want a report on M.I.A’s performance, read any blog. If you want to avoid an event that has a history of bad crowds, embarrassing oversights and horrendous planning, avoid HARD at Governor’s Island next time (if there is a next time).
For photos of HARD @ Governor’s Island, check out the URB Gallery HERE