SkeetBeatz 4 Lyf
- Pretty Boy - Young Galaxy
June 17, 2013
- Pretty Boy - Young Galaxy
This whole journey started for me with a photo. You may be familiar with the one I am referring to; Fatboy Slim with both his arms out, standing on the deck of a pirate ship, pointing at a helicopter (that would resemble Santa Claus’ corporate transportation if he was a fortune 500 CEO) hovering 30 feet above thousands of screaming EDM fans congregated on the beach with their toes in the sand. When I saw that photo, my inner self knew that if I didn’t get to see that scene with my own two eyes, I would always be disappointed in myself. Little did I know, I would be one of the lucky few taking a similar photo this year.
From the moment we touched down in Ft. Lauderdale to the moment my feet came in contact with MSC Poesia’s deck, the anticipation was killing me. Security was quick, guest registration flew by, and before I knew it I was walking up the gangplank towards the certain perplexity that was to be Holy Ship!! 2013.
This was my first time on a cruise ship, so I’d have to describe it as a sort of floating Las Vegas hotel. Swanky bars and restaurants everywhere, sprawling mirrors and spiral staircases, and of course a string of white lights hanging from bow to aft.
Night fell quickly, and before I knew it Diplo’s voice came over the towers of speakers all over the pool deck: “HOLY SHIP!!,” he exclaimed. “ARE YOU READY?”
Major Lazer’s sail away show bass would be comparable to south Florida’s humidity: Like walking into a cascading waterfall. With so many performers on stage during their sets, it’s always hard to tell who is giving the daggering, and who is taking it.
Towards the end of their set, a “Free the Universe” flag was flying high on stage and seemed to almost label the breezy, buoyant attitude of the pool deck.
For an hour they helped the ocean rock the boat from side to side with their unique, Jamaican sounds; fitting right into the island getaway theme of the ship.
As we were all drifting away in a subconscious daydream centered around paradise, A Trak snapped us all back to reality with his sensual sounds of scratching. The only man on the boat brazen enough to finger his turntables, wear an audible hat, and shamelessly grind on a Kandi ridden raver lady at the Dirtybird Disco (drugs included).
From hip-hop to house, trap to disco, A Trak knew how to keep em guessing. The crowd’s energy surged in unison to the Fool’s Gold mascot that was dancing up on stage with what seemed to be a pair of balls hanging out of the front of his pants. One more hour of exceptional music and mixing went by, while we all came one hour closer to the close of our weekend fantasia.
Boys Noize mixed into A Trak’s set and gave us a taste of the special German blend that has a life of its own.
I’m not sure if the unibrow he so proudly displays affects his dj aerodynamics, but the flat billed hats don’t seem to catch any resistance. He does have some dance moves though:
And then there was Justice for all. Concurrent to Xavier and Gaspard indulging the crowd with their Genesis/Unreleased Jackson Track into, a tropical rainstorm hit the MSC Poesia’s pool deck with a slight wrath.
It seemed fitting for this cruise to be showered with Justice’s signature electro house sounds and precipitation from the Caribbean simultaneously. From D.A.N.C.E. to Move Your Feet, Justice let their big beat style show through and had every fist on deck assaulting the air.
I always hear people speak of how Justice is “too hard to understand” or “too theatrical” when referring to their performances, but I maintain that electronic music festival attendees have been brainwashed to expect constant flashing lights and ridiculous stage antics, coupled with hype men and mere conversation over the microphone. Justice is in my list of top 3 djs for the exact reasons they aren’t in most other’s lists: They don’t talk over their DJ sets, they have an incredibly unique style of mixing music, they’re not influenced by what’s going on in the scene right at this minute, you won’t hear them playing anything from beatport’s top 10 chart, and it’s clear that when they are on stage, they are there to entertain you, not get wasted and dance on top of the dj booth. If we were talking about socioeconomic status here, Justice would be old money. Subtle and persistent, grounded and mature; we’ll call them the Ivy Leaguers of electronic music.
After Justice finished their digital lesson for the evening, it was time for the special guest; Dog Blood. I personally like acid house, but for some reason don’t find this duo all that appealing. The Dog Blood set turned into Skrillex DJing solo, which feeds into what seemed to happen throughout the course of the weekend; Skrillex “Kanyeing” everybody’s DJ sets. I personally witnessed him hijack 3 different DJ sets at 3 different stages. The aggressed DJ’s didn’t seem to be too happy about the coup de grace, but didn’t make a scene as the fans were in such close proximity.
After about 10 minutes of antiquated mainstream house and dubstep, I escaped the Pool Deck and took refuge at the Earstorm stage with none other than Tommy Trash. The 80’s hair band looking Australian DJ nursed me back from my near death top 40 experience with Skrillex, and I was once again enjoying my time on Holy Ship!!
From there on out it was Dirtybird Disco for the remainder of the evening: Claude Von Stroke, Justin Martin, and Eats Everything. I feel that the name of the stage can quite possibly give a better sense of what the last 4 ½ hours of music sounded like than I can.
The S32 Disco bar/club located at the aft of the ship was the best venue on board, bar none. The intimacy that was created with the fans was really spectacular to be able to witness from both sides of the glass. Behind the DJ booth was the back deck of the ship, and the only divider was a large glass wall with a slight tint; just enough to allow you to make out silhouettes in the darkness of night while watching the disturbed water from the twin screws propelling us towards our next destination (it was unmistakable when Skrillex was standing in the booth).
My favorite of the three heavyweights was Eats Everything (no pun intended), arguably the most unparalleled and talented DJ on earth. The sets were all so fluent that the time just slipped through my fingers like a few thousand grains of sand. Before I knew it, the stage manager was calling for the music to cease, and it was off to cabin 8109 for a few quick hours of sleep.
After a long day on the beach in the Nassau, I make it back to the Pool Deck just in time to catch Dillon Francis’ heavy hitting, almost slow motion like DJ set. This wasn’t just any old DJ set; D Fran had a “commentator” commonly known as “The Fat Jew.” Somehow, these two struck gold by pairing up and offering an almost comedic Moombahton sets for the masses. Right before a big drop he would calmly offer insight such as “Never use condoms, EVER” and “You can’t get an STD if you never get tested.” Just the kind of light hearted atmosphere that Holy Ship!! was looking for on day 2.
Generally, I’m a fervent opponent of hype men, but in this case it was just so appropriate given the type of music that was playing, and the manner in which it was furnished. Big ups to D Fran & The Fat Jew for being incredibly entertaining, one of my picks for best set of Holy Ship!! 2013.
Unfortunately the Moombah had to come to an end, but that marked the start of Zedd. Nothing had changed from earlier in the day when a crowd of people had been following Zedd around the ship, except maybe that now the crowd had picked up about a thousand people or so. He laid down an impressive set, and left all the girls on high alert.
Colorado was being repped on the ship by none other than Boulder’s Big Gigantic. The only live act on the boat, complete with a saxophone and set of drums, these guys were the other contender for most impressive performance on the ship. I was catching static electric shocks out of the air from the energy that was being created in the theatre during their performance. Think jam band attached to Serato; add all your favorite electronic jams with a special live twist. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing this duo perform live, I highly recommend it. They will not disappoint.
I hung out in the theatre for Boys Noize and a bit of Major Lazer, and then made my way back up to the S32 Disco to catch a second helping of Eats Everything and Gina Turner. Once again, Eats Everything delivered what I was looking for. Gina Turner on the other hand, seemed to be more of an addition to the lineup based on her marital status to a certain someone rather than actual production skill or mixing talent. She was entertaining, but I certainly could have done without.
Sunday Funday, to the most extreme max you could ever imagine; a private island beach party in the Bahamas with Diplo and Justice (with the package deal of Boys Noize and Gessafelstein, what I’m now coining as the new Club 75 [Originality credit: Bones]). As I walked through the welcome gate on the island there was only one thing going through my head: “Let’s turn this fantasy into a reality.”
I made it onto the island just in time to hear Diplo play one of his last songs, Sweet Nothing (Diplo & Grand Theft Remix). The vibe was good, the breeze was warm, and the waves were crashing.
It was time to recite the pledge of allegiance again.
There aren’t many literary techniques that I can use to illustrate what actually transpired on that island with complete clarity, so I’m going to defer to the video I captured instead:
Standing behind these guys and witnessing them work up close brought me back to Coachella 2010, when I saw the white linen crew that we know as Club 75 working their magic in a similar way. I remember thinking the set wasn’t that fluid back then, but it didn’t matter because of the energy and allure that was created by all of these DJs working in unison to create something special. This set was incredibly fluent, stimulating, and priceless, somehow materializing on this extraordinary Sunday that I was able to be a part of.
The helicopter, the Holy Ship!! beach balls, the beautiful people on the beach and in the water; although it came to what seemed like an abrupt end after no time at all, it will forever be scorched in my mind as one of the most cohesive times had by a group of 2800 people.
We were able to catch the sunset from our tender on the way back to the ship, and were brought back to reality (I know this seems trivial, as we were still on a cruise in the Bahamas) as we approached the MSC Poesia to dozens of fellow shippers mooning us from the balconies above. That was a special moment (those pictures are staying on my hard drive…).
Night fell one last time on the ship, and it was time to get weird. Little did anybody know, the Destructo and Friends stage doubled as the group therapy center for all the Holy Ship!! stoppage anxiety that people were going through. Bones cracked the evening wide open at the S32 Disco.
People dancing, drinks flowing, you could tell it was going to be a fun last night on the ship. After an hour tech house from the guy bringing you Gottadancedirty.com, the B2B sets started (which I was really interested in seeing). First up were Oliver and Destructo, followed by Claude Von Stroke and Justin Martin, with Brodinski and Gessafelstein closing out the festival. B2B sets are so uncommon that I try to see them as much as possible, so I posted up at this stage for the entire evening. Spinning tracks isn’t really a two-person job, so it’s interesting to watch two djs swing back and forth like a metronome to create something that can be so hit or miss. If done correctly, however, the audience is in for a treat. Claude Von Stroke and Justin Martin absolutely destroyed the dance floor with what I’m calling “fire disco” and had a memorable moment when they played one of the theme songs of the weekend (Make that Booty Clap) that had people going crazy.
Brodinski and Gessafelstein were also a sight to see, as Xavier from Justice lent a hand to the decks, giving that extra special flare of French electro for all those lucky enough to see.
5AM rolled around and the music stopped. There were some people still out on the deck casually conversing, most headed to bed for an attempt to be ready for that 7AM wake up call to disperse from the ship. I went to the bow, and watched as the Captain navigated through Port Everglades to our eventual destination. As the ship lulled through the waterways, I smiled as I thought back on the fond memories from the previous 72 hours. Holy Ship!! 2013; dropping anchor until next year.