Shutter Shades, Yeti Boots: Raver Fashion at LA’s HARD Fest

Confession: There was a time when I used to rave on a regular basis. It happened in my late high school/early college years, when raves were underground, loose, and plentiful. Growing up in LA, it was the thing to do. Ravers would throw on their best JNCO pants and multi-colored beads to hit up Qtopia in Hollywood or the Orion in Downtown and dance like maniacs until the sun came up—it was gross and grand all at once. I never thought that I’d find myself at a rave nearly a decade later, but I was feeling frisky this weekend and Samsung invited us to HARD Summer Festival 2012. I had to see what today’s kandi kids look like.

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Since the hardcore raves of yore are near-extinct, HARD Fest is where electronic music fans get their ravey fix in a super controlled environment. Equally watered down is the partygoer’s style, which I captured with the flashy 8 mega pixel camera on the new Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone. Baggy pants and stacked beads have been replaced by neon accents and furry things. For women, yeti boots are important (Karl Lagerfeld was onto something) as are bedazzled bras. Kanye West’s shutter shades still exist. Men are less extravagant, save for a few brave dudes in wacky hats and bodysuits. Pacifiers are acceptable for both genders. 

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Hipsters rave-ified their looks by adding subtle thematic details, like furry glowing headgear (above, center). Someone should create glow-in-the-dark flannels to make these guys really feel at home. 

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When in doubt, dress normal but wear a statement backpack. I like how the guy on the left paired his Puma jacket with Yoda. As for the dude on the right, his best accessory wasn’t his Louis Vuitton belt buckle—it was his girlfriend, who gracefully channeled a stripper Eskimo. 

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Despite the obvious shift in raver fashion, there’s one thing that still holds true: these kids just want to dance. HARD Fest delivered.

Holy Ghost! Plays at Samsung Galaxy S III Launch Party

Thanks a lot, Samsung. The human brain is now obsolete thanks to your neat new Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone. But maybe I’ll find a new use for my gray matter, because last night I attended the New York launch party for the futuristic device, which was hosted by a chipper Ashlee Simpson at Marquee nightclub in Chelsea, and I left pondering just how clairvoyant a tiny, shiny little gizmo can be. 

As I’m ushered into Marquee, I feel as though I’ve caught Gloria Swanson without her makeup on. The lights are bright, the wooden floor is clean, and there’s not a spilled drink or dropped straw in sight. Suddenly the lights dim and everything becomes blue, save for Simpson’s shiny red leather shorts. An army of leggy, blue-sheathed girls flit about the room, setting out cocktail menus and powering up the Samsung Galaxy S IIIs displayed on every table. Throughout the party, guests use the S-beam feature to order cocktails (you’ve seen the commercial with the guy holding two phones back-to-back and transferring a photo), and play with the countless other intuitive features. 
 
I’m waved in to the back VIP room, where the AC blows and the champagne flows, to chat with New York duo Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel of the popular synth-pop band Holy Ghost!, who will be the entertainment for the evening. The long-haired Millhiser and clean-cut Frankel met at age 6 and have been music partners ever since. 
 
Originally part of the hip-hop group Automato, which broke up when their rapper stopped rapping, Millhiser and Frankel turned their beat-making skills into the dynamic duo that is Holy Ghost!, named after one of their favorite songs by the Bar-Kays. They may look like just another couple of synth-wielding hooligans from the ‘Burg, but they’re set apart by their nostalgic approach to music. Their sound takes cues from ‘80s pop and ‘70s disco, and Millhiser says his dream venue to play would be Shea Stadium, the old Mets stomping ground, which was demolished in 2009. But fear not retro-philes, they can usually be found DJing at Le Baron in Chinatown. “It’s like an underground party,” says Frankel, “a dark room with a smoke machine.” 
 
Their eponymous album was released by DFA Records last April and they’ve just finished two years of touring, partially with their recently dismantled lablemates, LCD Sound System. 
 
“We are in the studio writing another record,” says Frankel, “so we probably won’t start touring until the end of this year. And the album will come out next year maybe.” 
 
When asked which band, dead or alive, they would tour with if given the chance, Frankel paused for a moment, before saying, “LCD Sound System,” with a laugh. 
 
“Dead!” chimes Millhiser. “It’ll be a reunion tour. They’ll be opening for us. At Shea Stadium.” Then he mutters, “Fuck you, Shea Stadium.”