Hard Holy Ship: A Classic Moment In DJ History

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Day One: Boarding The Vessel 

After months of waiting we are finally here at the port in Ft. Lauderdale ready to board the MSC Poesia—aka the Hard Holy Ship. The idea is surreal, a 4-day cruise down to the Bahamas with 30+ DJs and artists including a stop in Lucaya Bahamas and a party on a private island with Fatboy Slim at the helm. The boat is more or less nonstop action except for a small window of respite during the morning and early afternoon. With some kitschy fun on the side like DJ lessons with A-Trak, a poker tournament with Steve Aoki, Yoga with Gina Turner or mini golf with Dillon Francis.

Gina Turner Namaste Mix For Holy Ship

Needless to say we are pumped for the ride as we take our spot in the snaking que to board our vessel. The process is relatively painless except that a drug sniffing dog homes in on my associates bag and he gets a thorough and rattling shake down by some rather unpleasant police officers looking for a bust. He is not carrying anything of interest… the overly aggressive officers also try to rattle me but I keep my cool which seems to frustrate him. Whatever. All aboard.

day1

We settle into our cabin and head for the galley, load up on food and get ready for the DJs to step to the decks. Tonight we catch Skrillex (who fills in for Boys Noize, absent for personal reasons) who delivers a really amazing set of usual suspects and some fresh ragga-infused numbers that butter up the crowd for Rusko who is waiting to pounce on the revelers next. The stage is built over one of the pools, and party people are jammed together writhing and bobbing frantically to the dubstep growls and groans.

We jump down to some other decks to check out what looked like an amazing performance from Buraka Som Sistema, we see the last 30 seconds of the number. Nick Catchdubs is playing to an empty room, which unfortunately never gets going the entire night, just too many rooms and not enough people for all of them.

We watch Laidback Luke on the main stage for a little while and he levels it as usual. Again inspired to do some laps around all the decks and the casino we wrap up the evening watching Zedd wind up and melt the Zebra Lounge, a sweaty hot mess of a room that reminds me of Vegas afterhours—it’s a wrap for us at 3:30 am.

Day 2: Running Aground 

I awake to what feels like an earthquake as the boat is literally shuddering, at first I thinks it’s in my head but the jarring continues. We later learn from an announcement from the captain that the boat has run into a big sandbar, huge bummer for the captain and crew, not such a big deal for us except that the casino couldn’t open. Oh well.

day2

Today promises to be equally excellent, with performances from all the heavy hitters (A-Trak, Fatboy Slim, Aoki, Skrillex).

We opt not to go ashore to the Bahamas to catch up on some photo editing and other work but manage to catch the “DJ Lessons” afternoon session with A-Trak which turns out to be really fun. A-Trak handles the mic like a pro comedian and kills with some scratch demos and tricks bringing people on stage to show them the ropes. It all ends with a bang with Laidback Luke and DJ Craze joining A-Trak on stage for what could only be called a DJ Threesome, it was something you just don’t see everyday. A-Trak working the fader, Luke on the switches and Craze on the wax. A true classic moment in DJ history. We will have a YouTube video of this soon… promise.

As the sun goes down we grab some beers and wander around to see things starting to come to life, Destructo (aka Gary Richards), is dropping a nice set and filling it with some nice old school jams.

The night progresses into full madness and once again all the energy is really balanced between the main stage and the Teatro Theatre which features some French awesomeness (Club Cheval, Brodinski and Gesaffelstein) most of the other stages are flat or just plain empty.

The halls are crawling with “treasure seekers” and randoms looking for something to get into, making the boat extra amazing. Girls dressed like rodents, giant banana guys, pirates—just weird shit non-stop around every corner.

We end the night slumped over in the lounge watching the Posso (the DJ girls) drop some fun tracks, not even a mainline IV of Red Bull will get us out of this, lights out.

Day Three: Our Own Private Island 

The big show is here, the private island party with Fatboy Slim, Diplo, Dillon Francis and Dave Nada. We wake up after about 4-hours of sleep and head to the pool deck to get the scoop and our tickets to jump on the shuttle boat to the island. This is ridiculous; a giant wooden pirate ship serves as the epicenter of the fiesta with the DJs topside resembling a crow’s nest of sorts. I can just barely make out Diplo as the crowd starts to build and splash about on the private beach.

day3

Diplo drops some great jams and really primes the sandfloor for one Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim), who arrives aboard his own boat to cheers and chants. It’s like a scene out of some dance fantasy movie, crystal blue water, booze flowing, scantily clad sexy people all over the place, a guy dressed as a banana (a Dada Life fan, perhaps?) and a perfect sunny day. I have to sit down and submerge…

The day of course goes by far too quickly and we are back aboard for a power nap and the sail away party. People are still up for one more full on night of going at it and Holy Ship is happy to oblige.

Buraka Som Sistema kicks it off with just the energy everyone needs after two long days of Holy Shipping. As they are rocking it just before sunset, a small chopper circles the boat getting footage for what we can only assume is next years hype trailer. I can’t wait to see this; they also got aerial footage from the island… sure to make all that weren’t there as jealous as a Kardashian who is off camera.

One of our new favorites Alvin Risk saves the day by jumping on stage and kicking things into gear followed by Dillon Francis, not sure who came next as it was over for us… done and done.

Unfortunately we missed the Fool's Gold Rap party which looked like a blast… we heard nothing but good things.

Day 4: The Refugee Camp 

The boat hits port around 8 am and it’s go time, out of our cabins we go into a sea of zombies looking to exit the MSC Poesia as fast as humanly possible. The embarkation process was a little painful but a necessary evil I suppose.

Huge thanks to the Holy Ship! Team and the crew of the MSC Poesia for putting together a pretty damn spectacular maiden voyage, we hope to see you all next year!

Best Performances: (Keep in mind we tried to see everyone and we mean everyone. These were the six that really were memorable and stood out.

1. Fatboy Slim’s island set

2. Arthur Baker on Saturday night in the disco

3. Skrillex's Friday night set filling in for Boys Noize

4. Buraka Som Sistema for their sail away party performance

5. Alvin Risk for Sunday night

6. Zedd on Friday night 

Dumbest Rumor: deadmau5 played on Sunday night. He didn’t, not even close.

Dear Holy Ship,

Please have some more variations on music programming next year and never ever do something like DJ J. Devil again. Some really nice deep house guys, some chillout DJs by the pool to balance out everything, just something different and calmer. Dubstep and Electro are great, but it would be nice to have some rooms where you can give your skull a rest and find a deeper groove to sink into, pardon the pun.

PS: On the embarkation process, have some water, juice, bagels, fucking anything to help keep people’s blood sugar up. The day-old pastries were a little weak.