This year’s Miami Music Week was the biggest ever (for right now), with the introduction of a second weekend of Ultra Music Festival, countless new events and many old favorites. Of all the events we attended, here’s what we think were the best of the best.
Best Party Overall: Motorola Music Lounge presented by Sol Republic hosted by SiriusXM at the W Hotel on March 20-22
This party has been a perennial favorite for years among VIPs and the lucky SiriusXM subscribers who are invited. The event is particularly intimate; only a few hundred attendees every day make it onto the W’s private lawn and pool area, and multiple checkpoints ensure no one sneaks in. For six hours on three consecutive days, some of the world’s best DJs spin hour-long sets that are broadcast live to SiriusXM channels Electric Area and BPM, allowing those not invited to get in on the action. The first day featured Tiesto celebrating the one-year anniversary of Tiesto’s Club Life Radio with a stellar set on a day that also included Dyro and Showtek. The second day opened with a great set by Ferry Corsten, followed by sets by Nicky Romero and Krewella, closing with a legendary final set with Calvin Harris and Afrojack sharing the stage. The final day featured acts like Markus Schultz and Antillas, but the grand finale was a set by Armin van Buuren, who is widely regarded as the top DJ in the world. The crowd sipped Corzo tequila and 42Below vodka cocktails in addition to VitaCoco and Fiji water. Motorola provided a charging station for attendees to juice up their phones. The few allowed in the VIP bungalow were treated to appearances by the hottest DJs, who came to collect Motorola phones and SOL Republic headphones in the artist gifting suite. Among those who made surprise appearances were Steve Aoki, Kaskade, Avicii, Nervo and Thomas Ford. Everyone who attended was already itching for next year’s event.
Best Taste of Ultra (Without Actually Going): Sebastian Ingrosso and Alesso at WALL at the W Hotel Friday, March 22
On this particular night, WALL hosted a set by Sebastian Ingrosso two days before his final performance with Swedish House Mafia at Ultra Music Festival. Ingrosso shared the stage with Alesso, who also happened to be performing on the main stage immediately before Swedish House Mafia’s final performance. Those who attended got a peek of what Alesso’s performance on Sunday would sound like, in addition to seeing the direction Ingrosso is taking post-Swedish House Mafia. The crowd was beyond thrilled with the set, and the flashy set-up at WALL gave attendees a glimpse of what they were missing on Ultra’s last day.
Best party that was shut down: Chicken N’ Beer Pool Party featuring Diplo hosted by the Bed Head Hotel at the Gale Hotel on Saturday, March 23.
This event was bound to be popular for numerous reasons. It was free and open to the public, it was on the Gale’s swanky rooftop, it featured free hair stylings and products provided by Bed Head, and headliner Diplo was certain to bring out the crowds. The door for the event closed early in the afternoon and lines formed outside the entrance of fans hoping to get in. The party upstairs was packed to the brim with a hot and sweaty crowd dancing up a storm all day. When Diplo hit the stage at around 8 p.m., the crowd stormed his DJ booth and everyone rubbed against each other hoping for a closer look. However, it wasn’t the frenzied capacity crowd that shut the party down but Diplo’s penchant for very loud sets that caused problems. Diplo was ordered to turn down the music but refused, blasting his stellar set off the rooftop for the entire block to hear. City officials wouldn’t take no for an answer and pulled the plug on the set with 20 minutes left.
Best All Day Pool Party: Elektro Magazine Presents Freshman ‘13 Pool Party at the National Hotel Tuesday, March 19
There were countless pool parties of all kinds taking place throughout the week at which debauchery is the theme. Elektro’s Freshman ‘13 party didn’t stray too far from this, but attendees had the opportunity to discover an entire lineup of new and emerging acts. Acts as young as 16 made their way onto the stage in the hopes of making an impression on the crowd. The talent featured was largely excellent, with many partiers reveling in the sounds of someone who could potentially be the next major DJ.
Best Surprise Guest: David Guetta at FDR at the Delano Hotel on Thursday, March 21
Clubs will often fail to disclose a major artist’s presence and instead advertise a "secret special guest" on particular nights during Miami Music Week. This happens for a number of reasons, including artist exclusivity contracts with certain venues and festivals or uncertainty over whether the DJ is available. FDR’s March 21st night advertised “Nicky Romero, Manufactured Superstars, Bass Jackers, Dyro and a very special surprise guest.” There were rumors the guest would be David Guetta, as those familiar with Romero will know that they are good friends and Guetta has played as a guest on shows Romero has headlined. The tension ratcheted up when the fire marshal kept key people, including essential staff and talent like DJ duo Nervo from entering the club. A heated exchange took place at the door that resulted in several people rushing through to ensure their presence inside. Those who made it inside were rewarded, with Guetta, Romero and Nervo all sharing the stage at once.
Best Escape from the Miami Music Week Madness: Pulse 2.0: Late Night at the New World Symphony
The Pulse events at the New World Symphony have always been popular with both classical music connoisseurs and those just looking for a unique experience. NWS made a risky choice to host the evening on one of the busiest days during Miami Music Week, but the decision paid off, with a full crowd enjoying an event that was both intellectually stimulating and fun. The event took full advantage of the technologically advanced Frank Gehry-designed New World Center, utilizing video projections, dynamic lighting and a configurable floor plan to help stage both classical and dance music sets. Joshua Gersen led the orchestra through stunning renditions of works by Reich, Mozart and Shostakovich while local DJ Sean Drake played sets that were danceable but not overbearing.
Best Event for Women: CoverGirl party with Nervo at the SLS Hotel, Thursday, March 21
Miami Music Week can definitely feel like it’s a man’s club; for proof just look at the male-dominated lineups and scantily clad female dancers on stages all over. CoverGirl decided to shake things up a bit and host an event poolside at Hyde Beach at the SLS Hotel. VIPs were treated with the usual passed hors d'oeuvres and cocktails but also provided free tubes of Clump Crusher mascara and manicures with Outlast Stay Brilliant nail polish. Headlining the evening was Australian DJ duo and CoverGirl models Nervo, who played a set that appealed to everyone in the audience while a graffiti artist “tagged” a large mural of the girls with neon spray paint.
Best Sleeper Hit: DJ Maseo of De La Soul at Rec Room at the Gale Hotel Friday, March 22
Rec Room has been open only for a few months but is quickly becoming a local favorite for those seeking refuge from flashy and spendy clubs. This particular event was low-key, shying away from the intense electronic dance parties by hosting DJ Maseo of hip-hop group De La Soul. The vibe in the room was more of friendly people looking to take a break from the relentlessly intense party people that had swarmed Miami.
Best Day After Party: Adios Ultra pool party at the Broken Shaker on Monday, March 25
Over at the Freehand hotel, Broken Shaker hosted the Adios Ultra pool party on the Monday following the festival as a send-off to the chaos of Miami Music Week. The industry event was a welcome reprieve for those who worked long hours for the duration of WMC and Ultra. Milagro tequila was the spirit of the day, with an ice luge to chill shots. The Broken Shaker team created two punches for the event: the Cholo Popeye, which featured Milagro silver along with kale, watermelon and ginger, and the Elcabron, made of Milagro reposado along with fresh pineapple, chile de árbol and herbs. Attendees also snacked on Mexican corn on the cob with queso fresco and chips with homemade guacamole and salsa while catching some sun by the pool. A DJ spun tunes that strayed far from the electronic dance music that invaded the city, with classic songs from the likes of Doris Day, Shirley Bassey and Johnny Cash.
Best Moment at Ultra Music Festival (not involving a DJ): The guy who is naked (except for shoes) dancing with cops before he is arrested and put into a squad car - without pants.
Photo: Tomas Loewy