On the morning of January 4th 2,500 excited passengers lined up at Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to board the MSC Poesia for the second annual Holy Ship, HARD Presents’ floating EDM festival. After selling out in a matter of 28 hours last February, those fortunate enough to book cabins on the boat traveled from all around the world to spend the weekend cruising around the Bahamas with 36+ world class DJs.
Since we waited 11 months for Holy Ship it seemed unreal to finally be aboard. We had several hours before the music would begin so we wandered around exploring our rooms and the many amenities that the luxury ship hosted including: restaurants, bars, stages, pools, a basketball court, mini golf and more. As we approached the first bar on the top deck we instantly ran into Skream and Benga. After chatting for a bit and taking a shot with the UK dubstep masters, the weekend was already off to a fantastic start!
Major Lazer kicked things off at the sail away show on the main stage on the pool deck as the boat drifted away from the dock. Diplo and Jillionaire bumped high energy, booty shaking electro dancehall beats for an hour while their lady cohorts danced around in front waving flags and DJ friends filled out the stage behind them. It was a great high energy set and perfect match to the crowd’s anticipation for the start of weekend!
We walked upstairs to watch from the balcony as A-Trak took over the stage with his turntables. Vibing off the excitement of the crowd A-Trak began to scratch away as the Fool’s Gold mascot flopped around the stage. After scratching for a bit he drove the set into some high powered electro until his sound cut out for a minute. A-Trak talked over the mic to fill the silence and entertain the crowd until the music came blaring back on and everyone began to dance again. Mixing it up from his set the previous night at Revolution for the pre party, he continued with a high energy set mixing in a variety of music from hip hop and trap to disco and house.
Next up was one of my personal favorites, the German God of techno, Boys Noize. As usual his set was filled with hard hitting techno and as he spun, he danced almost as hard as the neon clad people below him.
As French house duo Justice took the stage over from Boys Noize the Caribbean skies let loose a little rain on the party goers. The short burst of rain didn’t seem to bug anyone, if anything it seemed to pump people up more. Continuing with the theme of the night Justice played anther hour of high energy music, powering the crowd forward to the secret special guest that was scheduled to play next.
Very few people seemed surprised when Skrillex took the stage as the special guest. However, I did find it awesome that for the first 30 or so minutes of his set Skrillex actually played a lot of house. It was nice to see him change it up and play something different from usual before he dove into the high powered screechy dubstep he is so well known for. The crowd seemed to thin out a bit as other stages around the boat started up but I stuck around at the main deck waiting for the ultimate highlight of the set. Boys Noize finally joined Skrillex on stage to finish out the second half of the set as their collaborative project, Dog Blood. This was only their second live show and although I still think I like Boys Noize better by himself, it was a pretty nice treat to get to see Dog Blood.
Gesaffelstein took the main stage next and the weekend was off in full swing with all 5 stages crazily raging. I ran all around the boat and saw so many amazing sets, here are some of my highlights for the rest of the weekend:
- Dirtybird Disco with J.Phlip, Claude Vonstroke, Justin Martin and Eats Everything: while the Dirtybird crew has been a staple favorite for years it was extra special to finally have the chance to see Eats Everything disco it up with the regular crew.
- 80’s Prom Night Anthems hosted by Skream & friends: one of the most special sets of the weekend because when else do you get the chance to watch Skream, Plastician and Jackmaster dress up in prom outfits to play 80’s classics like “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and Skream’s personally announced favorite “Bohemian Rhapsody?” A true treat and a riot to boot!
- DJ lessons with A-Trak: HARD couldn’t have chosen a better artist on the boat to spend 2 hours teaching anyone who wanted to listen, whether they DJ’d already or not, about the basics of DJ equipment, the art of scratching and the very important skill of how to read a crowd as you choose your tracks.
- Big Gigantic: no music on the lineup for the weekend gets me quite as excited as watching Dominic Lalli shred on his sax and as the only live music on the whole boat, Big G seemed to be an extra special treat and new discovery for many in attendance.
- Private Island Party with Destructo, Brodinski, Diplo, Justice: standing in the warmest of bright blue water with a helicopter flying over head watching Boys Noize, Justice and Gesaffelstein lean over the decks together was the perfect way to kick off the last day of the unreal experience that was Holy Ship!!
- Hip Hop party with A-Trak: as he announced he would in his DJ lesson the night before, A-Trak and friends, including Brodinski and Baauer, took over the theatre at the front of the ship for 4 hours on the last night to play hip hop and trap while what seemed like the rest of the artists on the boat bounced and danced alongside.
After a weekend on the boat watching Zedd, Kill the Noize, Diplo and even Bassnectar stroll around, you get a real sense of the enjoyment even the artists get out of this vacation. Thank you HARD for an incredible experience! Here are a couple of the sets from the private island so you can get a taste of what you missed or remember what you heard:
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