August 8, 2009 is a night that will live on in infamy for the dedicated music fans that once considered Hard events a home for fun and safe dance music. When I arrived at the Los Angeles Forum for Hard Summer just before the beginning of Crystal Castles‘ set, the chaos had already begun.
The Los Angeles Forum was obviously not equipped to handle a show like Hard Summer, with few places where people could make their way to the ground level. Hordes of people funneled down staircases that simply could not handle the at-capacity crowd. The lines to enter the event were especially long as well, and with over an hour wait time to enter the venue, it was not surprising to hear reports that fans were trying to jump over fences en masse to skip the queue.
By the time I entered the venue, Crystal Castles had already played, and according to those that saw them, it wasn’t the live spectacle that they are known for. Technical problems caused the crowd a significant amount of ear trauma, and fans were getting restless. By 10 p.m., the ground level was overcrowded and completely sealed off, inspiring some fans to leap over the railing from the above level to get closer to the stage. Their efforts would be in vain, however, as the rowdy crowd caused the Los Angeles County Fire Department to pull the plug on the event, in spite of attempts by the promoters to calm the frantic mob. Unfortunately, even after the decision had been made and there had been no music for over two hours, there was still no announcement that the show had been called off. After seeking out one of the L.A. County Fire Department officers, I learned that the event had been shut down, while thousands of people inside the Forum still chanted things like, “We want music,” along with a mix of boos and obscenities.
The Hard website advertised that Saturday night’s concert was sold out, and with the Forum’s 17,800 person capacity, the event needed either more staff or a much larger venue. The gravity of the situation finally sunk in when the disgruntled fans met face to face with LAPD officers, assisted by the Inglewood Police Department and other local police in full riot gear. Electro music fans are known for being anything but violent, but the false promise of a long night of stellar music was enough to move some concertgoers to throw glass bottles from the bleachers down onto the Forum’s floor. Many attendees tried to make the most of their experience by huddling around their cars in the parking lot, blasting music at full volume and dancing, but an asphalt dance party doesn’t make up for the loss felt by fans who had spent up to $80 for tickets to the event.
The greatest damage done was certainly that to the reputation of Hard promoters, who were laughed at in front of the venue while handing out flyers for the upcoming Hard Haunted Mansion that will take place this Halloween. That event, slated to be headlined by Deadmau5 and Justice, was originally scheduled to be held at the Forum as well. The Hard website has since changed the venue for Hard Haunted Mansion to “TBA” in light of recent events, and is now offering refunds for attendees of Hard Summer. Although it is a good gesture and a step towards reparation to offer a refund for ticket sales, Hard fans will not receive any refund in the form of time for that which was wasted in a crowded arena, void of music.