Sure, Miami Music Week (March 15 – 20) turns all of the Magic City into one big pumping, thumping party that spills from the clubs into the streets, but let’s not forget the reason this whole thing started more than 30 years ago. Wait, where’s my drink?
Oh yeah – it’s the music, silly! Just about every DJ and dance-music act known to man makes the annual pilgrimage to Miami each March, making it next to impossible to choose what to do and where to go.
Here’s help making an informed decision, with our guide to the 11 DJs You Have to See (obviously, dozens upon dozens more are talented enough to have made this list, but you can’t go wrong with these choices):
1. Carl Cox
One of the true kings, this British tech-house superstar has ruled the Ultra Music Festival for more than a decade with his prestigious and coveted Carl Cox & Friends tent, where he and several hand-picked DJs create their own surreal, semi-secluded world within a world of beats. Catch Him At: Ultra on Friday and Saturday; Carl Cox’s Disco, Funk and Soul Event, Sunday night at Basement Miami.
2. Pete Tong
House-music tastemaker has given countless acts their big breaks over more than 20 years on his BBC Radio 1 “Essential Mix” show, and even has a film named after him – 2005’s “It’s All Gone Pete Tong,” filmed in Ibiza, about a DJ who goes deaf. Catch Him At: All Gone Pete Tong Pool Party, Thursday at the Surfcomber; Get Lost Miami, Saturday (venue TBA).
3. Joris Voorn
Dutch techno wizard who puts his own take on the Detroit sound might be the best producer you’ve never heard of, as evidenced by his mind-boggling double compilation-mix CD “Balance 014,” for which he used about 100 songs. Catch Him At: All Gone Pete Tong, Thursday at the Surfcomber; Ultra on Friday; and at Elrow Miami at Mana Wynwood on Friday night.
4. Josh Wink
Experimental acid-house and drum ‘n’ bass DJ from Philly is best known for his 1995 anthem “Higher State of Consciousness,” but has stayed at the forefront of the electronic scene through his influential label, Ovum Records. Catch Him At: DJ Mag Poolside Sessions, Wednesday at the Surfcomber; Ovum Showcase, Thursday at Do Not Sit on the Furniture; Nervous Pool Party, Friday at Fifty.
5. Crystal Castles
Canadian experimental electronic band led by Ethan Kath has been expanding and destroying minds for a decade with its relentlessly probing sound that’s equal parts beauty and dissonance, and its ferocious live shows that are truly “performance art.” Catch Them At: Ultra on Saturday.
Norwegian DJ-producer best known for his crossover hit “Firestone” has worked with pop-rock and R&B superstars including Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and The Weeknd, and even created the official Ultra Music Festival theme song of 2015, “ID.” Catch Him At: Ultra on Sunday.
7. Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike
Belgian brothers are filling the big-room, house-anthem void left by the dissolution of Swedish House Mafia, and currently hold the No. 1 spot on DJ Mag’s annual Top 100 DJs list. Catch Them At: DJ Mag Poolside Sessions, Wednesday at the Surfcomber; Smash the House party, Friday at ICON Nightclub.
Devilish ghetto-house DJ, aka HARD Events head honcho Gary Richards, is all over town this week, throwing down some seriously funky tracks that expertly mix hip-hop and electronic. Catch Him At: Smirnoff Sound Collective Miami at Gale South Beach on Tuesday; Super You & Me at Story on Tuesday night; Robin Schulz presents Sugar on Wednesday at the Delano Hotel; Playlist Miami at the National Hotel on Friday; HARD Miami at Cameo on Friday night; and No Sugar Added, Day 2 at Nikki Beach on Saturday.
It’s worth seeing this Toronto progressive-house superstar – born Joel Zimmerman – just for his trademark “mau5head” he usually wears, and for the off-chance he punctuates his set with a Kanye-style rant. Catch Him At: Ultra on Sunday.
10. DJ Craze
Amid all the kn
ob-twiddling and break-dropping at the push of a button lies this Miami homeboy who’s a true throwback to the true art of DJing; that is, turntabling. And oh, what a turntable wizard he is – his amazing scratching skills have made him the only solo DJ to win the DMC World DJ Championships trophy three consecutive years. Catch Him At: Future Sound of Breaks, Friday at The Hangar.
11. Paul van Dyk
Grammy-winning German electronic music superstar (don’t call it trance!) creates beautifully lush, melodic anthems such as “For an Angel,” “Tell Me Why (The Riddle)” and “Time of Our Lives,” and actually performs them live in a compelling mix that must be experienced. Catch Him At: Paul van Dyk presents Vonyc Sessions 500 at Space Miami on Saturday night.