HARD Summer 2018 Day 2 Highlights: Travis Scott, Diplo, Dillon Francis, Snakehips & More
On Sunday, HARD Summer came to a festive, mosh-pit-friendly end on its second day in Fontana, California. Artists came together or played each other’s best songs in respect of their musical craft. Billboard hit the road again to the Auto Club Speedway to witness the brightest and hottest acts while catching the best crowd and behind-the-scenes action. (Relive all the Day 1 highlights here.)
Catch it all below, with all times in PT:
2:17 p.m.: After leaving the comfortable confines of “Shady Lane” -- the covered pseudo-avenue with hanging mist fans every few feet -- Ciszak at the Pink Tent and Krane at Hard Stage seem to be duking it out for who has the loudest early afternoon set. It’s the normal competition presented at any festival: Go hard or lose fans. Everyone’s walking at a slow pace because there’s no rush to eat, drink, dance, buy merchandise or dip in the VIP splash pool.
3:08 p.m.: Elohim starts off her set with what sounds like a grand orchestra to a pulsating bass that patiently follows. Female whispers echo from the stage and her rock undertones are elevated into a whirlwind moment. “Please enjoy this experience,” she says. There’s a consistent fascination behind her tracks, but how she switches things up quickly proves the experience she’s creating is ephemeral. Her angelic Kanye West "Waves" mash-up is the perfect hip-hop sample to fulfill her spiritual ambience. “Elohim” is the Hebrew word for “God” anyway. “Please turn the fuck up,” she counsels.
3:13 p.m.: The electro-pop singer queues Louis the Child’s “Love Is Alive” for a shout-out to Saturday night’s performers and her collaborators on the track. As much as electronic can be berated for its aggressive sonic nature, its camaraderie between artists remains strong. It’s the “Yellow Mustard” kind of relationship between musicians that makes festivals like HARD Summer a collaborative space, diminishing that initial competition.
4:27 p.m.: Fans run down a small hill to the Purple Tent where Saweetie is bringing her A-game. “Do I got any icy girls in the building?” she teases. The purple diamond background glistens behind her synchronized dancers surrounding her effortless finesse. She asks if the crowd knows her “Icy Girl” lyrics, and when the first verse and chorus are recited to her perfectly, she exclaims, “Oh, I like y’all!” The mutual feeling transcends her half-hour set as festival-goers bop, shimmy and twerk to her rap flow.
5 p.m.: A notification from the HARD Summer app pops up on festival-goers’ phones: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, Trippie Redd will not be able to perform at HARD. In his place, we welcome Sheck Wes at the Purple Stage!”
5:21 p.m.: “Go! Go! Go!” YBN Nahmir chants at the Purple Tent. It’s definitely been Sunday’s hot spot for hip-hop, the second celebrated genre of the weekend’s rowdiness. With special orders from YBN to make circles and mosh pits bigger -- “Open it up! Open it up! -- the rapper ensures the best turn-up experience. A girl behind me is screaming every word to the first verse of “Bounce Out With That,” which invites sweet vape smoke to float over the jumping bodies.
6 p.m.: I hang out with Snakehips in their trailer for an interview, beer cans floating in an ice water bath at their feet. It’s cozy and definitely a chill spot (vital to survive the dry heat) to catch up with the British DJ duo, who don’t always categorize their music as EDM. “Obviously we do like electronic music, but for us, I always just think I make hip-hop music in a way,” Oliver Lee tells me. “That’s just where we kind of come from like musically.... And even though sometimes people say like EDM or whatever, it’s always like we just think of it as making beats.”
James Carter chimes in to cite Aminé and Ella Mai as some of their favorite hip-hop and R&B artists. According to both Lee and Carter, good songs and the perfect vibe are key to nailing a festival performance. Their songs off their latest EP, Stay Home Tapes, achieve just that, especially since they’ve moved away from the more somber music, Carter points out. “I think we made a few sad songs before it as well. And we were like ‘C’mon, man, this is not us,’” he says. Sound is important to the guys, even though their oddly similar voices throw me off, which causes Carter to erupt into laughter for when I check the audio later.
7:43 p.m.: San Holo mimics his berserk audience as he sporadically dances on the Hard Stage. His cobalt T-shirt flutters around as the rainbow background gets fire bursts and star-shaped fireworks caked on its festive wonder.
8:08 p.m.: The rattling bass from “Fade” by West invites late attendees to the A-Trak B2B Baauer set at the Harder Stage. “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” is another one from the Chicago rapper’s The Life of Pablo album. Together, they built one of the highest climaxes on a track that weekend, reaching higher and higher with each note as if the end is infinity. The beats usually felt in your heart are rather vibrating in your ears for a deafening, blazing experience with calculated fire bursts. Festival-goers feel exactly what they see and hear.
8:24 p.m.: Snakehips are on, and it clicks what they were telling me two hours earlier: Their music is extremely hip-hop-centric. A mix of Missy Elliott’s “Work It” streams through the speakers as the big screen follows suit by projecting the music video. They’re into that old-school hip-hop, but their performance still adheres to current songs like “Wild Thoughts” by DJ Khaled featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller and “No Limits” by G-Eazy featuring A$AP Rocky and Cardi B, as it’s interwoven into Mura Masa’s “Love$ick.” The moment Drake’s viral “In My Feelings” hits, a twerk frenzy ensues.
9:08 p.m.: A lime-green cartoon of a woman dancing complements the Diplo B2B Dillon Francis nighttime set. Clad in NASCAR jumpsuits with a #78 racecar onstage, the two DJs flirt with speedway venue. When Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz’s “Get Low” begins, the guy behind me exclaims, “Wow, it’s like a fucking sixth-grade dance up in here.” “HARD Summer, we have 15 minutes left. I want you to go absolutely crazy,” Diplo says in the microphone. He and Francis are pulling out all the stops: white strobe lights, fire bursts, sprinkling fireworks. A video game of an animated gorilla appears on screen with the ‘80s classic “Take On Me” by a-ha playing. Like Saturday proved, EDM thrives off blasts from the pasts.
9:17 p.m.: Speaking of blasts from the past, Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” warps into Drake’s “God’s Plan” during the dual set. The duo's joint name -- Diplon -- is remade as tiny 7-Eleven, Pepsi, Red Bull, Burger King, Microsoft and NASCAR logos, sticking to the speedway theme. The collaborative sphere is celebrated with fireworks galore.
10:07 p.m.: The calm before the storm that is a Travis Scott show is welcomed with his Astroworld theme park’s song, an eerily cheery jingle that doesn’t seem to precede raging, but absolutely does. When the “Where in the world but Astroworld can you have so much fun!” ending hits, “Stargazing” -- the first track from Scott’s highly anticipated Astroworld album – plays. “If you’re not here to rage, you might as well hit the backdoor,” he says matter-of-factly. His “Carousel” performance, the next track on the album, invites a merry-go-round of mosh pits to crop up throughout the audience.
10:40 p.m.: Scott sings over SZA’s first verse from “Love Galore” before jumping straight into his own. “It’s honestly like one of my favorite songs. I love SZA,” he comments. He repeats the procedure with “Sky Walker” by Miguel because his guest verses are as worthy of veneration as his latest solo release. His Auto-Tune mastery lends itself to a vast collection of R&B and rap songs so much so that his résumé includes pages of other people’s work he’s been put on. He’s no bystander; he’s a co-creator. Scott even shared the stage with one of his Cactus Jack signees Sheck Wes for a portion of the night, even though he already had his own set earlier Sunday afternoon.
During his performance, @trvisXX stopped his DJ @ogchaseb momentarily to bring a fan in a wheelchair on stage with him. The moment brought “goosebumps” to the rest of the audience as they hoisted him up so he could get the best seat in the house. pic.twitter.com/b8xZymuyKq— heran mamo-- (@heranmamo) August 6, 2018
Travis Scott saw a fan in a wheelchair in the crowd so he brought him up on stage to perform with him ---- pic.twitter.com/1W80HJ2Ggy— Rodeo -- (@RodeoTheAlbum) August 6, 2018
10:51 p.m.: “Oh what we’re not gonna do, security, is that,” he calls out as someone in the crowd is being aggressively manhandled by officers while interrupting the audio for “Pick Up the Phone.” The birthday fan brought onstage is also mystified by the Houston rapper’s control. From “Get off his shirt” to “Get up there,” Scott has no patience for things that don’t go his way. But he also wants the best for his followers. “No Travis Scott fan will suffer from bodily harm by security,” he announced. Additionally, he instructed that all of the lights go up for a fan in a wheelchair being elevated by the audience onto the stage with him. “You good, OG?” The applause ringing from the festival-goers seemed to answer the question for him.