Over the weekend, 40 DJs and 2,500 EDM fans became pirates of the Caribbean aboard the second annual Hard Holy Ship!!, dropping heavy beats, musical treats and no rest for the wicked. The 72-hour dance-music cruise featured all of the biggest names in the scene including Diplo, A-Trak, Boys Noize, Justice, Knife Party and more, all aboard a 16-story boat that conquered Fort Lauderdale, the Bahamas, a private island and everything in between.
Major Lazer kicked off the festivities as the ship set sail Friday, bringing attendees into full rage mode. Diplo stopped the music briefly for a guy to kneel down and propose to his girlfriend, then turned the party back up with banging beats.
"This is my second year on the ship, and I'm as excited as ever," Diplo told MTV after his set. "We've got a lot more in store this weekend. Let's get ship faced!"
After high-energy sets from A-Trak, Boys Noize and Justice, anticipation mounted for the secret act scheduled to perform next. Suddenly, none other than Skrillex jumped onstage, surprising all attendees, who welcomed him with lighters in the air. He immediately began commanding the crowd with hard-hitting dubstep beats and several house music mixes, including Disclosure's "Latch," which got the dancefloor booming.
"I personally love what Skrillex has done with dubstep," said legendary veteran U.K. dubstep producer Benga, who watched his set from the stage. "It's great to see where he's taken the genre, and his fans just go mental."
After Skrillex's set, several other stages opened up inside the ship with noteworthy sets from Knife Party, Tommy Trash, Zedd, the Dirtybird crew and a dozen others. A break from the norm and a definite highlight of the night was Skream and Plastician, who dressed in white tuxedos and played '80s prom anthems until 6 a.m. for friends and fans who sang along to every word.
As morning broke, the ship docked at Nassau, Bahamas, where people were free to get off the boat and explore the island. Several activities kept many fans onboard all day, including DJ lessons given by A-Trak.
"Personally, I come from the school of playing real vinyl on two turntables, but that's just me," A-Trak said. "But there is nothing wrong with CDJ's, Serrato or any of that. As long as you know how to mix and have a real passion for making music and moving a crowd, that's all it takes."
The evening progressed into more jam-packed main stage performances by Lvis-1990, Jack Beats, Dillon Francis, Zedd, Knife Party and 12th Planet. The theme of the night, Ghost Ship, brought out the best in attendees, who painted their faces, got out Ghostbusters and pirate attire and danced the night away to more epic sets by Digitalism, Skream & Benga, Alvin Risk and Crookers.
The last day at sea was arguably the wildest of them all, as the ship docked on a private island, Great Stirrup Cay, and an all-day beach party ensued featuring musical selections by Diplo, Justice, Brodinski and Destructo. Well over half of the people aboard this year were second-timers, and by the sound of Gary Richards, the founder of Hard and creator of Holy Ship!!, the dance music cruise will continue on for many years to come.
"My goal is to take Holy Ship!! across the Mediterranean," Gary Richards happily proclaimed while onboard. "I'm really happy that this has been so successful, because it is definitely a lot of work, but I have no intentions of slowing down. This is purely for the music and the fans."