Holy Ship!! Takes EDM Out to Sea

HARD’s Holy Ship!! presented top DJs. Photo by Rukes.com. HARD’s Holy Ship!! presented top DJs. Photo by Rukes.com.

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.—It’s not every week that you can watch world-class DJs play all night in a club, and then all day on the sandy shores of the Bahamas. In fact, it’s only about once a year.

But, this past Jan. 3—for the second consecutive year—HARD’s Holy Ship!! set sail for the Bahamas on the 3,600-capacity MSC Poesia cruise line. And the DJs rocked it all weekend long.

Without the dramas of club VIP sections, moronic doormen or festival restrooms, Holy Ship!! brought together bass-music bombers (12th Planet, Skream & Benga and Skrillex) with house faves (Brodinski & Gesaffelstein) and electro crunchers (Justice and Boys Noize) for an audience that was ready for an EDM event devoid of the typical trance headliners.

Cabin prices were steep and the cruise sold out quickly, but the die-hard music lovers who made it onboard were treated to a rich weekend of themed parties, artist-hosted events and surprise sets throughout the ship’s five stages.

Boat Party: A-Trak threw a hip-hop bash. Photo by Rukes.com. Boat Party: A-Trak threw a hip-hop bash. Photo by Rukes.com.

Day 1 Highlights:

  • Diplo & Co. made it clear why Major Lazer was chosen to play as the ship embarked on its journey. Giving the audience a taste for what is to come with Major Lazer’s upcoming Free the Universe album and tour, hype man Washy Fire led the duo (which recently replaced Switch with Jillionaire) in a tropical dancehall-inspired set, including a recorded shout-out from none other than Snoop Dogg.
  • The confusion caused by a change in the set times was offset when Grammy winner Skrillex joined Boys Noize for a surprise set. At the first sound of his signature wobble, fans everywhere on the deck ran to join in the dance party. The camaraderie between the producers made it obvious that this would not be the only set Skrillex popped in on.
  • Clad in a tuxedo, the impossibly tall Skream hosted an ’80s prom-themed night, playing hit after hit, while friends Alvin Risk, Skrillex, and more danced as if it were senior year.
Skrillex was a surprise guest on a couple sets. Photos by Rukes.com. Skrillex was a surprise guest on a couple sets. Photo by Rukes.com.

Day 2 Highlights:

  • After leading a whisky-fueled mini-golf tournament, a buzzed Dillon Francis was seen doing a pre-show ritual of pushups with his tour manager before his DJ set. His ensuing performance turned out fine, though, as the set included his signature moombahton hits, house anthems, and a sprinkle of dubstep. The set was MCed by Vice fave Fabrizio “The Fat Jew” Goldstein, who spieled against a goofy backdrop of dolphin graphics.
  • To add to the silliness of that Dillon Francis set, A-Trak was seen wearing a hat that resembled a pizza pie and Zedd took the microphone to recite the lyrics to Avicii’s “Le7els,” as if they were a written speech. Seeing the three joke together felt as if their Twitter exchanges had come to life.
  • During Major Lazer’s second set, Diplo switched up his usual shirtless stage dive by getting inside a clear, inflatable, hamster ball and rolling across the jam-packed crowd, which was still peaking energy-wise at 4 a.m.


Mad Decent: Diplo & Major Lazer rocked the boat. Photo by Rukes.com. Mad Decent: Diplo & Major Lazer rocked the boat. Photo by Rukes.com.

Day 3 Highlights:

  • As if being on a white sand beach of a private island wasn’t a highlight in itself, having Boys Noize, Gesaffelstein, and Justice tag-team a DJ set confirmed that the Holy Ship!! experience is truly one of a kind. The Euro masters switched it up from their usual sound and threw in classic hip-hop tracks like “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” and “California Love,” as thousands of beach bodies grooved along.
  • Though 2011 seemed to be the peak of moombahton, the Mad Decent family (Nadastrom, Sabo, Dillon Francis, and Diplo) proved that those living in the here and now still love 108 BPM. The L.A.-based producers turned the Zebra Bar into a sweat lodge with four hours of hip-shaking grooves, perfectly appropriate for the island vibes of the cruise.
  • “When I saw the Holy Ship!! schedule, I knew something was missing,” said turntablist A-Trak to a crowded audience in the theater. A mysterious gap in the schedule apparently prompted the owner of Fools Gold Records to throw a strictly hip-hop party—perfectly timed with the recent trap phenomenon. Brodinski ditched his usual dancey vibes for an hour set of hip-hop faves, ranging from Ginuwine to Juicy J. Preparing for his upcoming tour with Just Blaze, young Brooklynite Baauer played his own tracks, while friend RL Grime danced and sang along onstage.

 – Lina Abascal

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