DAY ONE: WEDNESDAY
We kick off Miami Music Week 2014 with DJ Mag Poolside Sessions at our new Miami base — The Surfcomber on Collins Avenue. The hottest ticket on the beach has an all-star line-up, with leading DJs from the world of underground tech and deep house to main room EDM. The buzz pre-event is massive, tickets have flown out in record time, and if our Twitter feed is to be believed, you lot seem pretty excited about it all.
Fresh Anjunadeep star Beckwith opens up proceedings with sunshine friendly house vibes for the early arrivals, before Amine Edge & DANCE acquire control.
Resurgent techno innovator Kevin Saunderson takes things to the next level with a set of classic house and rolling beats, before the mighty MK steps up to cue a rush to the beachside dancefloor.
Hot Natured vocalist Anabel Englund joins him on stage for an incredible impromptu performance of ‘Electricity’ — a collab between Englund, MK and Lee Foss — to close the set.
After the set, Englund, MK, Amine Edge & DANCE hang around to party by the pool, happily chatting and taking photos with fans. One of the best things about Miami is this closeness between the artists and the people attending the events, where you are very likely to find your heroes propping up a bar or on the dancefloor, rather than hiding in the VIP.
Up next, DJ Mag favourite Dennis Ferrer strips things back with an hour of rolling tech house grooves before making way for Bob Sinclar, who plays a classic house set, even dropping underground beats like Roman Flugel's 'More&More&More' on Clone and his own vintage cut 'Love Generation' to bridge into the EDM DJs to follow.
Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano then step things up again with an energetic set of EDM bangers to a now-packed-out beachside dancefloor. As the sun slips over the horizon, Dyro dices the controls, joined by reigning Top 100 DJs champion and surprise special guest Hardwell, as Twitter and the [email protected] chatroom go berserk.
Up next, our Miami cover-stars Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike do what they do best — smash up the dance! They're followed by W&W who slay The Surfcomber beach with a set of big room bombs, while trance legend Armin van Buuren watches from the wings. Final act Quentin Mosimann wows the crowd with an epic four-minute live intro, while standing on the stage with his synth, dropping a EDM re-edit of Pharrell's 'Happy' to a chorus of surprise. Pumped and still ready to party, we carry on the night at the Jackathon Vs Hotflush & Planet E event at Treehouse with Heidi, Stacey Pullen, Carl Craig, Moodymann and Scuba, before power-walking back to the hotel and bidding Miami goodnight, just before sunrise...
DAY TWO: THURSDAY
It wouldn't be Music Week without our annual trip to the Dirtybird BBQ, this year held in Cafeina Wynwood Lounge, an exotic garden venue on the backstreets of Miami's hip art district downtown.
With Grillson on the coals, Barclay the boss on the decks and Eats Everything making lewd gestures behind him in the booth, we'd be hard pushed to find a party as wholesome and hearty as this on the planet, let alone in Miami. The tunes are pretty beefy too.
The place is in high spirits shortly after sundown and the cheerful congregation — a crammed motley crew of biceps, bikinis and hipster tattoos — is really popping off, as Barclay (Claude VonStroke) drops Doorly & Shadow Child's new Avec project while Eats, Catz 'N Dogz, Kill Frenzy and Justin Martin lark about like naughty children behind him.
Later on after some supreme sushi at Moshi Moshi, we jump in a taxi to Ice Palace West where Jamie Jones' Paradise party is on the verge of getting closed down by a pesky fire marshal as the place, already rammed to capacity, is mobbed with ticket-holders stuck outside trying to get in.
Even DJ Mag is left outside for almost two hours along with 50 or so other members of the guestlist. However, once we finally do find an in, we see what all the fuss is about. A massive complex of jet-black marble rooms with high ceilings and sleek, lavishly laid-out decking, Ice Palace West is a towering maze of iniquity.
We find Rob James building a crowd in the booming back room and Lee Foss booting off in the middle room, while fire marshal orders prevent any more people getting to the wild, extravagantly decorated garden space — full of forestry, streams and bridges — that’s more like an adventure playground for clubbers than a dance terrace, causing chaotic queues in-between rooms.
Eats Everything dominates the laser-strewn middle room with tunes like Shonky’s remix of El Provost and ‘Gypsy Woman’, while Kim Ann Foxman and Midland are given the tough task of keeping a small crowd from wandering off to explore this lofty arrangement of halls, corridors and courtyards.
Outside, Jamie Jones and Dyed Soundorom cross languid boogie house styles with techy touches in magical twilight as the sun begins to rise, while the fire marshal finally chips off, but not before having one last word; threatening to have one DJ (naming no names) thrown in jail for “delaying” the switch-off.
The marshal's absence does allow hordes of people to now run free in the garden, which is no consolation to those who were left high, dry and hoping for a refund.
DAY 3/4: FRIDAY/SATURDAY
Like the no-man's-land between Christmas and New Year, there comes a point in Miami when it’s hard to work out what day it is anymore. This discombobulating experience almost always arrives thanks to the sprawling nature of Get Lost, the ninth edition of Damian Lazarus’ party, which this year stretches to a 24-hour experience lasting from early Saturday to Sunday morning.
This, of course, presents the dilemma of when exactly to make an appearance and the challenge of how to catch as much as possible, with the party’s who’s who of talent, taking in the likes of Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson and Droog, bookended by two bonafide legends: Sasha kicking the fun off and DJ Harvey taking over for the last five hours. As it is, the lure of early morning shenanigans proves too much to resist.
Sometime on Friday afternoon it still seems a distant prospect, DJ Mag enjoying the grand white interior of the seafront W Hotel where we’re talking to Afrojack, who’s bounced back from the over exertions that had seen him declaring on Twitter that he was strategically taking himself to hospital.
Dressed in his own new range from G-Star, another world-renowned Dutch brand, he’s instead jubilant at the first play of his debut album ‘Forget the World’ the day before.
It’s a short wander down Collins to the Surfcomber afterwards, where Pete Tong has gathered a collection of friends. Nervo’s set is a sign of the times, their EDM roots smoothed down into a deeper set that includes Catz ‘N Dogz’s remix of Thomas Schumacher’s ‘Hush’, while Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike stoke the summer vibes with Ninetoes’ ‘Finder’ and have us dancing on tables with Green Velvet’s ‘Flash’, before heading into more festival-sized territory.
Pete Tong continues the deep house revolution, pumping out a poolside-friendly set and laying the groundwork for MK, whose reinvention continues afresh.
Hotel drinks fill the void between day and late night, before it’s off downtown again to another wing of the sprawling Ice Palace for Richie Hawtin’s Enter. Building on the vibe of the ‘90s warehouse parties that he started out playing in Ontario and Detroit, the scale of the main room is as imposing as the sounds echoing around it.
A distant figure just visible across a sea of people filling the giant film set, Hawtin’s stripped-down techno sound booms out from speakers hidden in the darkness, lights exploding across our retinas from a battery somewhere down the front. It’s a visceral sensory assault, giving a glimpse back into an era that most here were too young to remember.
A few hours later we’re back on Collins, heading off the beaten track to the Room 207 Lounge, a tiny studio in the Marlin Hotel, where DJ Mag have been invited to spin a few tunes. Hidden away from the rising sun outside, the night time energy just keeps rolling, and as eyes adjust to the mid-morning sun when we leave, a decision is made to keep rolling through into Get Lost. Day three is heading well into day four.
So we’re back at another part of the Ice Palace, a venue seeing no shortage of action in 2014. Filled with smoke and hanging silver tinsel, we are initially lost, wandering around in vast, almost empty rooms until a door lets in streaming sunshine and we’re outside where the real action has started.
New York duo Bob Moses are playing live, their Scissor & Thread single ‘All I Want’ sounding even better than it does on record, while everyone from Jackmaster and Heidi to Subb-an and Seth Troxler is gathered backstage. In fact, if you want your fill of house and techno, then there’s nowhere with as much on offer as here.
The Martinez Brothers have gathered a crowd in the now-rapidly-filling main room inside, playing sinewy tech house grooves, while deeper inside the venue Mark Jenkyns and Rob James are playing a back-to-back set, and Russ Yallop is waiting in the wings.
There’s plenty more to come. Fur Coat, Craig Richards and David Squillace to name just a few, but a tactical early evening retreat to get some food gives us a chance to regroup and rein ourselves back in for the final day of Miami Music Week. With Get Lost still going as we type, we’re sure there will be plenty of other tired eyes behind obligatory sunglasses at the final day of parties…
DAY FOUR: SATURDAY
Now that we have taken you through 24 hours of Get Lost with Damian Lazarus, kicking it with Afrojack and eating beef burgers to beefier bass with Just Blaze and Justin Martin at the Dirtybird BBQ, we need the weekend to party at Ultra, fly home, pass out.
But not before Sean 'Diddy' Combs and Guy Gerber preview their new underground dance music project and album '11-11' at Red Bull Guest House. The affair is posh, complete with a jazz band and red ropes, just as you’d expect from the infamously swaggy Diddy.
Arriving with his posse and a gaggle of models (naturally), Diddy takes to the mic and praises Gerber for being a DJ who “plays what you need, not what you want”, and jokes that he wanted to call the project 'Ketamine', which scores Combs a big laugh from the industry folk lucky enough to snag an invite.
Of the 11-11 project Diddy adds "If you’re looking for that big drop, where you jump up and down like a pogo stick, this is not for you”.
Gerber goes on to spin some tracks from the project — a blend of smooth, deep melodies with hip-hop laid on top — that truly have no genre boundaries, and sound as sexy as the models… almost.
The party later moves to Diddy’s mansion on Star Island, which goes well into the daylight hours.
Meanwhile at Ultra — this clouded by news about a marshal in critical condition after getting trampled by festival-goers — it's fluorescent fishnets and pig-tails aplenty, as we hop off the artist/press super yacht docked at Bayfront Park. UK house champion Julio Bashmore has managed to pull a decent crowd on the hill of the suspended Majestic Casual stage as the sun sets. It's a contradiction of sorts; a group of well-toned Brits shuffling in sunglasses, draped in a Union Jack, surrounded by candy ravers jumping around emphatically to the sub-bass of 'Battle For Middle You'.
Netsky, with his pogoing MC, is also representing for the UK contingent. The Belgian — a fresh face of UK d&b label Hospital — has set a mosh-pit off at a seated colosseum known as the Live Stage, while Brazilian household name (pun intended) Rodrigo Viera is dropping juicy beats from the likes of Catz 'N Dogz and Josh Butler at Stage 7. Triggering the effects to devastating accord, the raised dancefloor is rampant, going to further prove that Ultra is about much more than the EDM sounds many associate it with. But while we're impressed, it's not enough to encourage us to brave Hardwell's headline set on the main stage, which from the top of the hill looks more like a densely populated alien colony — framed with a mind-boggling display of sci-fi visuals — than a dance festival.
Truth is, we're in need of a rest, especially after the week we've had, so it's off to Five Guys for a burger, followed by Mac's Bar Deuce for some final jars before once and for all bidding farewell to Miami 2014.
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