If you were in Miami at all between March 15-25, Ultra Music Festival was about as unavoidable as the latest Avicii single. Every cab driver wants to know, “are you going to The Ultra?”. Every convenience store clerk, every hotel attendant, every local, it’s the first word out of everyones mouth. But the reality is that there is just so much more going on all around Miami. Literally everywhere. Every hotel, club, bar, hell, I’ve even seen restaurants and barber shops with DJ line ups. It’s crazy. But that’s Miami Music Week 2013. With so much going on, we tried our best to fit in all the best pool parties and late nights around two weekends of Ultra itself. This is how we did it.

Thursday, March 14
The night before everything really starts was a little quiet. A bunch of Swedes joined Alesso at Liv for what would serve as a warm up for the following night, but the real WMC kick off really took off at Wall at The W Hotel. A solid list of up and coming producers stacked a lineup that kept the smaller lounge packed to the brim all night long. Project 46 dropped a new track with Kaskade called ‘Last Chance’ that will probably end up being huge, and Lazy Rich may have had the most complete front to back set of the night, pleasing the crowd who were constantly pushing towards the DJ booth.

Friday, March 15
Ultra Day 1 takes over Downtown Miami, and all of a sudden cabs won’t even look at you. No one wants to drive into that madhouse. Goldfish opened up the main stage with a set that was live streamed across the world, AraabMuzik brought a crowd rushing to the stage hear him bust out trap music and hip hop through his miraculous fingers and his MPC, and Modestep’s live band is amazing. We also got to chat with Goldfish, Nicky Romero, and Paul Van Dyk for interviews that will be up later this week.

After Fatboy Slim crushed the Carl Cox Stage, it was off to Mansion for Porter Robinson and Mat Zo. The two recently collaborated on the track ‘Easy’. Zo’s mix of trance, progressive house, and drum and bass is a perfect compliment to Porter, and  between the two of them they had Mansion rocking for several hours. Zo is one of the more exciting young producers in the game, and you can see him quickly ascending to the next level of stardom. Porter brought the same level of awesomeness that was seen on his previous tour, and gave a shout out to his friend Zedd, who was in the house, before busting into a remix of ‘Clarity’.

But this is Miami, and the night is never over – so it was off to Liv to catch Steve Angello’s solo set. To hardcore dance fans, Swedish House Mafia was kind of the joke of Ultra – “Psh…it’s going to be exactly the same as every other show on tour…all they do is push buttons…it’s going to be all 13 years olds” – but this guy has serious skills. Throughout the three or four or so hours I was there, the only Swedish House Mafia song that he dropped was ‘Don’t You Worry Child’. Just dark beats, non stop, until I could barely move anymore and had to call it a night. This guy oozes talent behind the decks, and when he gets into the booth by himself he really does damage. When complimenting him on the set later on that week he stated, “I wanted to go dark, so I started dark that night”.

Saturday, March 16
Saturday was a solid, if not dubstep heavy early day at Ultra. The OWSLA stage was pumping all day long with sets from Birdy Nam Nam, Alvin Risk, Seven Lions, and surprise guest spots from Skrillex and Porter Robinson. Borgore, Datsik, and Flux Pavilion b2b Doctor P got early main stage spots. It was a bass-morning. The Carl Cox Arena featured featured five straight hours of top notch house music to close the night, with a three hour set from Cox himself, and two hours from the legendary Richie Hawtin. The Live Stage was on fire with a killer set from Pretty Lights and a rare American stop from Faithless. Deadmau5 closed down the festival with a level of theatrics only seen on the main stage. It was a solid day at Ultra.

Saturday night saw Thomas Gold take over Wall with help from Deniz Koyu, but eventually it was back to Liv to see Sander Van Doorn absolutely tear the club down. The house DJs kept the energy high until the lights were turned on and the reality that the night was over sank in.

Sunday, March 17
Ultra on Sunday was probably the most well rounded line-up of the three days. Trance fans flocked to the Main Stage towards the end, where Above and Beyond and Armin Van Buuren closed down the show with jaw dropping sets that had some in the crowd literally crying. The Space Ibiza stage had all of the radio hits with sets from David Guetta, Avicii, Tiesto, Calvin Harris, and Kaskade. Dubstep kids raved at the Ultra Worldwide set with sets from Zeds Dead, Sub Focus, Rusko, and 12th Planet.

There was a ton of action going on outside of Ultra, be headed straight to Story, where Tiesto and Calvin Harris were spinning with support from Alvaro and Michael Woods. It was weird to see Tiesto as a second billing on any line up (the next week at Liv, the billings would be reversed), but if anyone could take away that top billing, it’d be a hit maker like Calvin. Both guys played awesome sets, but that’s kind of to be expected at this point. Tiesto closed things down, absolutely destroying the decks until the lights were forced on and people had to be removed for the venue. It was a Sunday, people wanted to sleep – the all night ragers would wait for the coming days. Well, unless you went to Space for what became an instant classic 10 hour set from Markus Schulz, who didn’t stop spinning until 10 in the morning. You can hear Markus discuss the set in an interview that will be published later this week.

Monday, March 18
Monday served as a cool down day – well, as much of a cool down day as you can possibly get during Miami Music Week. Chris Lake and Michael Woods had a b2b set that showed off both of their prowess in electro and progressive house at the brand new SLS Pool. Other than that, it was a good day to sit in the sun, relax, and get some rest for the non stop parties of the next seven days.

Well rested, it was time for a Dirty Dutch takeover back at Story Nightclub. Opened by MMG, the brains behind Liv, Story instantly became one of Miami’s hottest clubs, hosting all star line ups throughout the entire week. For Monday, Dirty Dutch king Chuckie was joined by an all star crew including Dmitri Vegas and Like Mike, Mord Fustang, and Gregori Klossman. A special guest appearance was promised, and it albeit random, it perfectly fit into the night at hand. Hip hop star Waka Flocka Flame descended from the DJ booth into the crowd to perform a mini set of hits like ‘Hard In Da Paint’ and ‘Get Low’ while Chuckie manned the decks. Performing from the crowd, Flocka turned the place into a madhouse as fans pushed and shoved to get inches closer to the rapper. In the middle of a week full of DJs and house beats, it was kind of awesome to see someone rapping only a few feet from where you’re standing.

Tuesday, March 19
Tuesday was an early wake up, as Elektro Magazine was hosting their Freshman Class of 2013 party at The National Hotel Pool. This party was chock full of the next generation of EDM stars, with sets from Danny Avila, 3LAU, Griz, Audien, Deniz Koyu, and many more. This was almost like a scouting report for the future, a place to say you saw a DJ before they took over the main stage of Ultra. Griz absolutely crushed it despite a few scheduling mix ups, but you could really see why everyone here was on this list. Carnage, who has played New York City’s Grimey Trap Party, but on a top notch set as well.

Night time was action packed with so much stuff it was hard to really make choices. We ended up criss crossing back and forth between Liv and Story to ensure we caught everything we needed to see. Dirty South celebrated the release of his latest album, ‘Speed of Life’, at Liv with a huge set of old favorites and future hits. But over at Story, Skrillex was having a showcase for his OWSLA label, which featured a can’t miss set of Brodinski b2b Gesaffelstein. If you haven’t seen these guys from the Bromance records crew spin together, you’re missing out. The Bromance brand of French electronic music is distinctive and awesome, and when these two all stars get together, the sets are nothing short of fantastic. Skrillex took the stage next along with Alvin Risk, but mid-set we had to run back to Liv to catch the end of Dirty South’s set at Liv. Dirty South has been on fire lately, it was hard enough to leave for a little, but I’ll be damned if I dont stay there until the lights went on.

Wednesday, March 20
The most anticipated pool party of the week, in my eyes at least, was the ‘We Are All Friends’ Pool Party at The Raleigh. Eight major dance labels, including Skrillex’s OWSLA, Boys Noize Records, Bromance Records, Mad Decent, Fools Gold, and more all got together to take over The Raleigh for an hour. But before that, we went to the Motorola Music Lounge at The W Hotel, where Sirius XM was broadcasting a Tiesto Takeover live throughout the day. These parties were the ultimate of the ultimate day time pool parties, where a slew of top notch artists mingled while all star, festival headliners, manned the decks for less than 100 people. Warming up the day was Alvaro and Quintino, before we got the the main event of Tiesto, spinning for a spare crowd of people who  ignored the posh setting and started to groove.

With Tiesto off and the Corzo Tequila cut off, we ran to the ‘We Are All Friends’ party to catch up with the guys from Bromance Records after their hour long set. Keep an eye on L4LM for that interview later in the week. We hung out at The Raleigh throughout the rest of the night, where Fools Gold records dropped a set full of hip hop and trap music. Small rain showers couldn’t keep the packed crowd from chilling pool side awaiting the OSWLA crew to take over late night, where Skrillex dropped a typically awesome set while the sun went down.

Thursday, March 21
The Sirius takeover of the Motorola Lounge continued on Thursday with newfound pop star Calvin Harris. Ferry Corsten kicked off the day with an awesome set while people entered the lounge. Krewella amped up the party with a high energy DJ set that started to get people moving, but when someone on the mic mentioned their would be a special guest, the crowd started to Buzz. As Calvin Harris entered the DJ booth, he was followed by Afrojack, who told the crowd “Calvin told me this set was going to be a little weird, so I’m gonna stick around here with him”, before commencing the first Calvin Harris b2b Afrojack set ever. ‘Weird’ may have been an understatement, as the only really recognizable song throughout the hour long set was Harris’ collaboration with Florence Welsch, ‘Sweet Nothing’. The rest of the set was heavy and progressive, harder than either of the DJ’s had done in recent memory.

When the Sirius broadcast was over, we ran to the Dirty Bird BBQ, which brought the San Francisco based crew’s legendary BBQs in Golden Gate Park to Downtown Miami.The party featured sets from Dirty Bird founder Claude Von Stroke, and his all star crew of Justin Martin, Eats Everything, and French Fries. We got there just in time for their special guests of the evening, hip hop legends De La Soul. A welcome change of pace from the day of house grooves an heavy beats, these pioneers knew exactly how to work the crowd, getting everyone amped up and singing along to their now classic lyrics. How many other times do you get a chance to see hip hop legends perform in the midst of an all day house music fest? After they relinquished their microphones, French Fries took the decks to bring back the smooth, dancey grooves that the Dirty Bird guys are famous for.

From there, it was off to the world famous Nikki Beach for Robbie Ribera’s Juicy Beach party. This year featured top acts like Cosmic Gate, Bob Sinclair, Manufactured Superstars, and Mr. Juicy himself, Robbie Rivera. The thing that really sets Nikki Beach apart is the length of their parties – there are pool parties, and there are late nights, and then there is Nikki Beach, where the party starts during the day and runs till 5am. It’s the only place the girls are still rocking bikinis when the sun starts to rise again, and that alone makes it a win in my book. This years Juicy Beach was rocking as ever, as a packed crowd stayed dancing in the main room until the music stopped.

Friday, March 22
The Motorola Musc Lounge hit it’s final day on Friday, and while many rushed over to Ultra for the first day of the second week of the festival, we ran to the Sirius Lounge to catch all of Armin Van Buuren’s Electric Area takeover. The world’s #1 DJ was about to broadcast live for Sirius XM in front of only a handful of people, but it didn’t seem like it. People casually sipped Corzo tequila, sat by the pool, and patiently waited while a DJ warmed up the crowd. But then emerged Markus Schulz on the decks, and suddenly people started to take notice. Markus handled the crowd well, getting people moving and involved until there was a crowd surrounding the booth, tapping their hands in the air to the beats. Next up, emerging trance superstars W&W hopped on stage full of energy – they didn’t seem to get the memo, jumping up and down and making people go crazy like they were playing for 10,000 people. After the set, they asked me if people were really getting down – yes, yes they were, more so than anyone else up until that point. W&W turned a media lounge into an all out rager. But the main event was next, and all resemblance of ‘lounge’ was gone. Not even a quick rain storm could force people away, as everyone rushed the stage to catch Armin’s set. Throughout the hour, it seemed like one by one, the talkers on the side decided, “fuck it”, and ran to the booth to dance and sing along with Armin. It as an awesome experience and incredible set.

After Armin’s set, we rushed to the Miami Museum of Art for a secret Steve Angello show, sponsored by MySpace and MiO Energy Liquid Water. If you thought this was going to be a small DJ booth set up in between some paintings, you were wrong. The roof deck of the museum was turned into a mini festival, with a huge stage rivaling most of Ultra’s side stages. Beyond the free samples of MiO and the top shelf open bar was an awesome set by Angello, who once again showed why he may be the most talented Swedish House Mafia member behind the deck. When I got there, I was told Steve insisted on going over his scheduled hour long set, and they were right – he popped on early and went through a litany of Swedish House Mafia hits and bass fueled beats that rocked the core of the art museum. Confetti and fog sprayed throughout the entire set, complimenting the stacks of LEDs all over the stage. It was a truely jaw dropping production for such a private show.

From there, we stayed local, hitting up Space for the PRYDA and friends show. Now that he’s ready to take over America with a stateside move, Eric Prydz has been all over the place, and this huge show on Space’s famous terrace was just another huge stop. We got their early to chat with Prydz’s unofficial protege, Fehrplay, who has been making waves throughout the EDM scene. Fehrplay stayed in the decks for an extra half hour or so while Prydz had some ‘technical difficulties’, and we stuck around to chat with him after his set – keep an eye out for that interview to be released this week. By the time we were back, Prydz was on for only another half and hour before running into some more ‘technical difficulties’, and Fehrplay took over control, keeping the crowd dancing until the early hours of the morning – the way Space should.

Saturday, March 23
Daytime Saturday saw a ‘Chicken N Beer Pool Party’ hosted by Bed Head, which saw Diplo, Jillionaire, GTA, The Partysquad, and more spinning hip hop, trap, and electro on the rooftop of The Gale Hotel. This party wins the award for ‘best place to get you hair done at Miami Music Week’, as Bed Head stylists were doing guests hair for free pool side. Continuing on the hip hop groove, The Red Bull Guest House featured a hip hop party hosted by Fools Gold and Body High. Think A-Trak’s hip hop party from Holy Ship, just amplified. The master of the turntables was joined by Brodinski, Alchemist, and more for a straight up hip hop banger.

Late night, Erick Morillo’s Birthday Party had an impromptu change to Axwell and Friends, and it didn’t seem like anyone missed a beat. With Swedish House Mafia’s final performance being the following day, EDM fans were completely fine with another taste of the Swedes before their farewell tour was over. Axwell was joined at times in the booth by Sebastian Ingrosso,  Alesso, Dirty South, and Tiesto, who watched the guy work magic and provided support. When Axwell had enough, emerging superstars Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano took control of the DJ Booth, blending their Dutch house sound with pure party music ensuring the crowd stayed dancing until the sun came up. Sometimes, I wonder how DJ’s do it – stay in party mode until 9am, and business mode all day long. This was a perfect example, as I caught the guys getting into a cab around 9, only to meet up with them again the next afternoon for an interview which will be released later this week. To go back to Liv for a second, that club still may be the best in the world outside Las Vegas. Every DJ in the world raves at the chance to play for the bottle service crowd dancing on tables, and the true EDM fans who flock the floor. It’s one of the few times everyone lives in harmony on the dance floor, and the DJ’s go all out in the now legendary booth.

Sunday, March 24
Could Miami Music Week really be over? With the addition of another weekend of Ultra, Miami Music Week actually stretched to 11 days this year, which is a lot for even the most dedicated party animals. Show me where and when else in this entire world, in which there is a 24 hour party for ten straight days. I don’t think it exists. The highlight of the last day of Ultra, as usual, was Armin Van Buuren’s A State Of Trance tent, which went absolutely bonkers throughout the entire day. All of the biggest names in trance took turns in the booth, while Armin hosted from a backstage studio. Each time his face was projected onto the screen, his voice announcing the next act and telling the crowd to make some noise, the tent went nuts. For Armin’s set at 7:30, a sea of people stretched out nearly past the adjacent stage, with music lovers just trying to get a glimpse of the world’s #1 DJ. When the crowd died out a little, it only made it better for the crowd at hand – more room to dance for Ferry Corsten and Paul Van Dyk, legends in their own right who played top notch sets on one of trance’s grandest stage. Swedish What Mafia? Van Dyk teased the Swedes’ hit, ‘One’, as a nod to all those who ignored the massive crowds trying to catch Swedish House Mafia’s last set, taking on the massive production at ASOT instead.

After Ultra, there was still a lot to see – Armin Van Buuren was playing his own show at Story, where W&W joined him for some b2b action, while Markus Schulz and Ferry Corsten debuted their NEW WORLD PUNX collaborative project with a massive set at Mansion. Unfortunately, after ten straight days, this writer needed to catch a flight for Live For Live Music’s sold out Goldfish show in New York City. Here’s to next year, Miami Music Week.