Walking into Marquee Day Club at midday we are hit by an intense wall of heat. And it’s not just the desert climate that’s raising temperatures. Today is the Miller SoundClash Grand Final, the culmination of months of hard work and the opportunity for nine talented DJs to make a name for themselves on the biggest of stages.
Throughout the club, Vegas' party faithful recline on sunloungers, or mingle in the cabanas and pools that flank the incredible venue.
The early-afternoon soundtrack is provided by Augusto Yepes, who returns to Vegas as reigning Miller SoundClash champion. Yepes works the crowd with a selection of deep, sun-soaked grooves - showcasing the skills that led him to victory ten months ago.
As Augusto concludes his set, Miller SoundClash favourites Sphe & Naves take to the stage. "Are you ready for the Miller SoundClash grand final?" Sphe bellows down the mic. The response from the Day Club crowd is emphatic.
Sr. Saco, from the Dominican Republic is the first finalist on stage. Despite starting deep and groovy, Saco switches things up halfway through his set with a remix of DJ Kool's hip hop classic 'Let Me Clear My Throat' to rapturous vocal approval from the poolside crowd.
Argentina's Tim Gim is up next. The Buenos Aires resident's love of house music is immediately evident. The set flows with precision as Gim raises his hands to the dancefloor in front of him.
By now the club is getting lively. The loungers are repurposed as dance platforms as the crowd welcome Oscar Bohorquez to the stage. In the most upbeat performance so far, DJ Oscar B raises the tempo with a diverse set of big room classics and feel good vibes, as he bounces around the booth.
Turkey's Jaffer is up next. Despite considering himself a 'beginner DJ', the Turkish spinner works the decks and the crowd like a grand master. His set of upfront, rolling tech house is not a sound that typically works in Vegas, yet the quality of the set has the crowd dancing from the front to the back. It was a risk to go for a more underground sound here, but in the spirit of Las Vegas, the gamble paid off.
As Jaffer leaves the decks the club is at fever pitch. Demo Santana from Panama is the right DJ at the right time. His enthusiastic big room selection takes the atmosphere up a notch. Santana, clearly at home on stage, puts on an incredible show and the crowd respond accordingly.
George Marino, representing Honduras, keeps the EDM vibe going, with a set of tough electronic grooves, characterised with epic builds and heavy drops.
As we move into the final three DJs, the cabanas are rocking. Water splashes from the pools as enthusiastic party people smile and dance together in the water.
Iker Azcué, winner of the DJ Mag Wild Card competition is up next. The Mexican DJ and producer opens with his single 'Never Stop Loving You' before working into a series of vocal mash ups. He concludes his set with the intro to LA rock legends Guns 'n' Roses' classic 'Welcome To The Jungle' as he stands on top of the DJ booth playing air guitar with the crowd!
Azcué's show-stopping performance is a tough act to follow, but our penultimate finalist, Scorsi, is up to the task. The Brazilian DJ unleashes a diverse selection that takes in progressive house, big room and even trap.
The final DJ to perform is Paraguay's Audioiko. The DJ, who is something of a festival legend in his home country, is clearly unphased by the occasion, working the dancefloor with a high energy selection as he whips up the crowd on the mic.
As the judges retire to deliberate, 2014 champions, and Miller SoundClash regulars, Tom & Collins, take to the decks. The Mexican duo have come a long way since their victory two years ago. A series of singles and a relentless tour schedule have propelled them ever closer to dance music's top table. They return today as headliners, and are treated as such by the crowd who jump in unison as they take to the decks. Their slick blend of high intensity house music soundtracks the spectacle of Marquee's stage performers, who ride through the crowd in a boat, as girls spray the dancefloor with super soakers.
The day has passed in a blur. With only 20 minutes for each DJ to impress, the Miller SoundClash finalists had to pack all their skills into the short sets, which resulted in an incredible intensity throughout.
Copyright Thrust Publishing Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.djmag.com as the source.