The palatial main room of Downtown Los Angeles’ Exchange was dark, lit only by multicolored spotlights, lasers and a massive LED display behind the stage. Gary Richards looks at his packed crowd behind the DJ Decks, he’s smiling, because he knows what will happen when the song kicks back in.
This past Saturday Richards, or as he known by his performing moniker Destructo, spun a monstrous DJ set for the Angeleno crowd. A hometown party for Richards, the head of HARD is known for his impressive events, which span over eight impressives years, they rival Insomniac productions in attendance but it is the LA-Based HARD that has claimed the Electronic Music scene of Los Angeles with Richards’ reverence for the genre and any of it’s offshoots (integrating performers like Bloc Party or The Weeknd) and disdain for the saccharine “PLUR” culture that surrounds it. HARD skips the bullshit and gives you the best performers of both the mainstream and underground, if you have seen this year’s HARD Summer music festival line up, you know this to be true.
What is not widely known is that Richards is a phenomenal DJ and Producer, as long as I’ve been involved in Los Angeles’ Electronic scene, Destructo has been there tearing up any dance floor in front of him. Each of his DJ sets are as exciting and contemporary as the last. As I saw again this past weekend, the night saw great warm up sets from Bones and a great stand out of Britain’s Dance scene, Vanilla Ace.
Moreover, the set of the night honors go to Richards, or the crippled Destructo (his right leg had a cast boot on it due to tendon surgery) still gave one hell of a show, pushing back his slick black hair between transitions and hyping the crowd nonstop via microphone.
The set was a display of some best new Deep/Future House tunes, including a lot of his work, including a personal favorite “LA Funky”. Every thump of the beat immersed me into a dream of digital textures that had faculty and depth, clearly showing that his taste has passion behind it. It was all mixed without reproach by the veteran Richards, who has been playing since the 90’s and has the skill to show it. For two hours, he never pulled a punch, every track went from throbbing to explosive and kept the hermetic crowd excited from start to finish. I first saw Richards play in 2009, his DJ Set was among my favorites of the HARD Haunted Mansion of that year (now rebranded as HARD Day of the Dead) and here again I am thoroughly impressed. He absorbs the hot tunes in vogue and integrates them all into a flawless mix, which makes his sets always fresh and captivating.
A businessman or a tastemaker known for curating the best artists of the ever evolving Electronic Music spectrums to create a event company that is genuine as much as it is ambitious, however you look at him, Richards is the king of LA’s EDM scene. He has transcended the rave and has cultivated a brand that tantamount to world domination, but he is also a fucking wizard on the DJ table, which could not be said about any other event company CEO. His music and ear are as much a part to HARD’s success than anything else, he can drop nascent bangers that have yet to see wide release or classic room shakers that can get any veteran of the HARD dynasty excited.
If you are attending any of the GoHARD events leading up to HARD Summer, this is not a set to miss, just because he’s the boss doesn’t mean he can’t bring the thunder like his world renowned HARD artists. Be sure to grab his “West Coast” EP also, there are some badass tunes on it guaranteed to be great on your next parties’ playlist.
Kieran J. MacIntyre is a voracious music nerd of all genres, bass player and managing editor of M&C Music. You can find him on Twitter