In recent years, the Fillmore Miami Beach has hosted some of EDM’s heaviest hitters. Whether it’s Excision bringing down the roof with his ridiculous sound system, RL Grime’s futuristic turn up, 12th Planet and Skrillex dropping bass-heavy sets for the wob-hungry masses, or the Disclosure brothers translating their slick garage house into a live spectacle, these shows have helped turn the traditionally rock-focused venue into a favorite of Miami’s electronic music fans.
The Fillmore's latest dance blowout was the GoHard Festival Tour’s Miami stop. Originally schedule to take place at downtown's Bayfront Park Amphitheater, the Hard Events-produced mini-fest announced the move to Miami Beach last week. But no one seemed bummed by the relocation. After all, the all-day affair boasted a lineup that would satisfy even the crankiest fan.
From Hard bossman Destructo (AKA Gary Richards) to What So Not, Bro Safari, Mat Zo, Rae Sremmurd, Tokimonsta, Griz, Mad Decent funnyman Dillon Francis, and Kaskade-approved producer Amtrac, the GoHard roster was another example of the Los Angeles-based promoter’s knack for mixing the many different sounds and vibes of the current electronic scene without ever compromising Hard's specific mood and well-known aesthetic.
The mini-fest started just after 4 p.m. when Amtrac took the stage. His sweet blend of cutting-edge and pop-friendly house put most of the steadily building crowd into a trance of sorts. However, many of the kids in neon rave gear were visibly upset after being forced by security to remove their kandi. Yet even those disgruntled ravers managed to console themselves by dancing in clusters as the dance floor filled up and Amtrac dropped gems, including some of his latest releases. His Alesso remix, in particular, went over really well with the young crowd.
Next was Tokimonsta, AKA Jennifer Lee. A lot of the GoHard concertgoers didn’t seem to be acquainted with this Korean-American bass destroyer. So they were wholly unprepared for her to be delivering one of the hardest-hitting and forward-thinking set of the night. Blending future beats, hip-hop, and some slick trap, Toki brought the grooves and even previewed some new music. It was so good, it was too short. Everyone wanted more Tokimonsta.
After Griz turnt up, it was time for Hard Events CEO and founder Destructo. And as soon as he stepped to the decks, the show became a nonstop orgy of loud, bone-crushing, face-melting beats. Though still holding to the hip-hop vibe that Toki had set in motion, he brought the heavy electro and crossover stuff that leaned more into EDM-friendly rap than underground hip-hop or trap.
The bossman's showmanship was also commendable, especially his hilarious table setup covered in pineapples.
After Griz and Destructo but before Bro Safari, the GoHard heads got What So Not’s Emoh, playing new music from his upcoming record. Unfortunately, the project, formerly a collaboration with Australian producer Flume, is still struggling to find its new identity.
Nevertheless, the set wasn’t half bad once Emoh stopped playing music that he and Flume made together. It was refreshing to see What So Not begin coming into its own after this year’s Coachella set that Emoh has described as a landmark.
So far, there hadn’t been any real live aspect to the GoHard show, but rap duo Rae Sremmurd brought it with the kind of swagger that could only come from two young dudes taken in by producer Mike Will Made It, linked with Interscope Records, and blasted all over the radio.
Khalif "Swae Lee" Brown, and Aaquil "Slim Jimmi" Brown made damn sure everyone understood why they had two platinum singles and collaborations with the likes of Nicki Minaj and Young Thug. The entire crowd was rapping along with them for No Type and Throw Some Mo, but No Flex Zone had the hype at a maximum. It was really refreshing to see two young rappers in their prime surrounded on both ends of the billing by DJs.
Bringing the night to a close, Mat Zo and Dillon Francis’ sets were a lot alike in a way, aside from Mat Zo’s choice of throwing Santana into the mix. Still, they both kept the intensity cranked to “Climax."
For his part, Zo played a string of hits from his 2013 debut album, Damage Control, and showed the crowd exactly why the 25-year-old producer has already been released on the likes of Anjunabeats and Astralworks. The highlight of his set may have been dropping his collaboration, “Get Up 2 Get Down," with the Knocks.
Then, with a resounding sense of humor, and a knack for playing the hits, Dillon Francis brought out the big guns for his headlining slot.
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Playing everything, from Major Lazer to his track with “Animals" pusher Martin Garrix, Francis never missed a chance to bring the crowd go, “Wow! Holy shit! Look at this guy!” The flow of his set was so perfect that by the time he played “Coming Over," his new collaboration with Kygo, the crowd might have been louder than the Fillmore's sound system.
It was a rager. And even though the rave bros and youngins were far from in rare form (and the crowd was predictable), it is hard not to appreciate the weight of Hard’s influence on today’s electronic music scene, not to mention Destructo and crew's ability to put together lineups that almost always leave ticketholders feeling like they got their money’s worth.