01/08/13Posted in show-reviews by Justin Charles


Perfection: HOLY SHIP!! Reviewed



Perfect is a strong word. When something is perfect – there is literally nothing wrong with it. Zero flaws. No issues. Just absolutely perfect. It's safe to say no event is flawless – there is almost always a problem to be found – either with the artists, the sound, the venue – there's always something. Until now. Holy Ship, the DJ-filled cruise that just wrapped up it's second ever voyage, was an absolutely  perfect event. Here's why.

Imagine a cruise ship filled with 3,000 die hard music fans, and dozens of the biggest DJs and producers of today, cruising around the Caribbean seas, bumping heart pounding beats along the way. If you've ever been on a cruise ship, you know the deal – there's a huge pool deck, tons of activities, several lounges, buffets, a full theater, and more – except on this boat, each section was essentially it's own festival-like stage. Where normally there is middle aged women performing karaoke, A-Trak is giving DJ lessons. Where there is normally people playing tennis, Zedd and Oliver and hosting Twister tournaments. It was like every part of the boat was transformed.

Major Lazer started off the trip with the first set as part of the 'Sail Away' party and instantly got everyone going nuts. Girls on stage, shirts in the air, and tons of jumping around. Keep in mind, this is while the boat was still in port, and the other "normal" cruise ships were probably wondering what the fuck was going on. The energy Major Lazer brings to the stage, combined with excitement of leaving the dock mid-set, made this one of the most memorable sets of the weekend. A small schedule change was made, leaving a blank space for a mystery guest which ended up being – who else? – Skrillex, who played an a-typical set sprinkling in a varieties of genres.

While all that and more (A-Trak/Justice/Boys Noize) filled up the main stage, there was so much more going on all over the boat – up until six in the morning. Knife Party hosted an Earstorm party in the theater, putting on an incredible set and bringing along friends like Zedd and Kill The Noise. There was a 'Tight and Bright' themed night, which culminated with an 80′s Prom Night hosted by Skream and friends – a clear highlight of the weekend. For over an hour, there was no womps or wobbles, just straight 80′s anthems. The few that were there probably would have stayed all night. And there was more uniquely themed sets- you would disco the night away with Claude Von Stroke or go to the Rump Shaker party, where two of the biggest names in trap, Baauer and RL Grime, spun a b2b set.

The next day saw the boat docked in Nassau, Bahamas, where some passengers departed the boat to rent scooters and jet skis. The disco was open all day, with sets from Jackmaster and Benga among others. After Benga's set – it was activity time! There was the aforementioned Twister with Oliver, where co-ed teams of four shook their asses and played Twister, all while Destructo poured shots into their mouths. Dillon Francis hosted a mini-golf tournament that included shots of whiskey and unconventional holes even for mini golf, such as 'The Tourettes Hole', where golfers must scream as much profanity before shooting. A-Trak hosted a DJ lesson, showing us the basics of beat matching and building sets, before putting on a scratching display for the ages. Zedd also hosted a poker tournament for the gambling inclined.

The night's music line-up was exciting as well. Dillon Francis had his friend Fat Jew hyping him up on stage, cracking jokes the entire time while rocking through an energetic set. Towards the end, he dared the crowd to request Levels, before inviting Zedd on stage for his remix of the song. The main stage was also home to banging sets from Knife Party and 12th Planet, but many people ran down to theater for Big Gigantic. The intimacy of the theater combined with an absolutely incredible and mind-blowing set from Big G made this a crowd favorite – many people who were there consider it as one of the highlights of the weekend. It was nice to have two real instruments on a stage, just sayin'.

After a break to switch over the stage, Boys Noize took the stage for an hour long set, which also included appearances from Brodinski and Gesaffelstein, creating a trifecta of awesomeness. Major Lazer followed after with another high energy set, but again the atmosphere of the theater kicked it up a notch. It might help to describe the theater – a two level room with stadium style seating, but also a dance floor with enough room to really dance. The speaker system was monstrous, and it provided some of the best sound quality on the boat. Oh, and did I forget to mention tonight's theme was 'Ghost Ship', so half the boat was decked out in face paint and ghost costumes, just for fun. Late night options saw Crookers playing in a lounge area, another disco themed night, and Skream and Benga's theme night, which also included a set from Plastician that went till nearly six in the morning.

For the ship's last day, everyone's anticipation was high for the private island party. Smaller boats transported cruisers from the ship to the island, where they were greeted with a mini-stage wedged into a small hill of sand and rocks. The line-up for the day was stacked – Destructo, Brodinski, Diplo, and Justice – all on the beach, next to the ocean, in the sun. People splashed in the ocean, waved at the helicopter swooping over the beach, and played in the sand. The entire experience was surreal. And the DJs all tailored their sets to the beach crowd, dropping more hip hop and party songs. Justice's set featured Boys Noize and Gesaffelstein sharing the stage, where in between Justice classics, they mixed Will Smith's 'Miami' and 'Getting Jiggy With It'. It was honestly the best way to spend a day at the beach.

As everyone spent the day drinking in the sun, the night got off a little slow. Skream and Benga got the main stage really jumping for the first time, as their hype man got the crowd into it and the music was out of control, going back and forth between modern dubstep and some classics. Tommy Trash kept the energy high, putting on a top notch set that filled the gap perfectly between the next artists, Kill The Noise. The promised 'Surprise Party' ended up being a hip hop night in the theater, with sets from Brodinski, Bauuer, and A-Trak. You wouldn't have thought it, but by the time A-Trak got on stage, the theater was packed, with many seats filled in addition to the dance floor. A-Trak dropped everything from the modern fun, sing a-long choruses to the classic verses of the 80s and 90s. Combine that with his legendary scratching ability, and you have a hell of a party. If you weren't in the mood for hip hop, there was a Moombahton Massive party in the other room, featuring bouncy sets from Dillon Francis, Nadastrom, and Diplo. Destructo was also hosting a party in the club which featured a bunch of b2b sets, culminating in Gesaffelstein b2b Brodinski that essentially closed down the ship. The club was absolutely packed for this as it was the last official music on the boat, and it was a hell of a time.

Besides all the awesome music and activites, the boat itself was pretty amazing. There was a buffet 24/7 as well as a restaurant, and the staff was really excellent. I actually should elaborate more on the staff, because it was a really important aspect of the trip. These guys were there to make sure everyone was having fun, 24/7. For a community of people who are used to being treated, well, not so nicely at many clubs and concert venues, these guys welcomed us onto the boat with open arms. You couldn't take ten steps without bumping into a friendly staffer willing to help you or point you in the right direction. You are constantly asked how you're doing and if there's any way you can be helped. In the cafeteria, the tables are constantly being cleaned. At the pool, the floor is constantly mopped, cups are quickly removed even during the show. It was a really friendly staff that really made the whole experience that much more enjoyable.

It's really hard to describe just how incredible of this experience Holy Ship is, you just have to try and see it for yourself. Every person on that boat is meant to be there, you can forget under 21 kids sneaking on, you can forget the girls who came for 'Levels', you can throw away all the pacifiers. These were real music fans who know how to party right. Everyone just wants to party hard and have fun. For three days straight, a couple of thousand people sailed around the ocean, bumping music and dancing their asses off. It's crazy to think about. But it happened, and it was perfect.

Recap Videos:

HOLYSHIP 2013 from Rony Alwin on Vimeo.

Getting Jiggy With Helicopters:

Crookers/Skrillex/Diplo + Major Lazer/ Kill The Noise / And More

Diplo – Private Island

Diplo – Private Island Set (Audio)

Diplo Holy Ship 2013 Beach Set by Tssxalistair on Mixcloud

Stay Tuned For More Photos and Videos


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