Almost without question, Ultra Music Festival now dominates the American dance festival scene. But L.A.'s Hard might be the next big event brand to rise to the top.
What began as a bunch of one-off West Coast events has become a traveling series of minifests for young and wild revelers. There's even a Hard party at sea, the Holy Ship! cruise, whose 2013 edition is already sold out.
Unsurprisingly, though, one of the most anticipated gatherings on the Hard calendar is its Winter Music Conference party, which has swelled this year into a two-night stand at Grand Central. And as the name implies, this party isn't a thing of subtlety. It's about sweating and screaming all night.
Hard Miami and Miami Moombahton Massive
With Diplo, Dillon Francis, Nadastrom, and others. Presented by Hard and Mad Decent. 10 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, at Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-377-2277; grandcentralmiami.com. Tickets cost $30 plus fees via fla.vor.us. Ages 18 and up.With Boys Noize, Brodinski, Gesaffelstein, Destructo, Oliver, and others. Presented by Hard. 10 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-377-2277; grandcentralmiami.com. Tickets cost $30 plus fees via fla.vor.us. Ages 18 and up.
WMC / MMW 2012 Event Listings
Miami Moombahton Massive. The past couple of years, Winter Music Conference/Miami Music Week/whatever was all about charting the rise and dominance of dubstep. But 2012 is the year of moombahton, that midtempo, vaguely tropical style with enough low-end for the underground heads and enough danceable rhythms for a wider audience.
Reigning over Grand Central's Moombahton Massive will be Diplo and his tastemaking label, Mad Decent. The Florida native is fresh off a Grammy nomination for his work on Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now." But that doesn't mean he has sold out. Rather, Diplo is one of the few artists who balances both huge commercial and underground success, in large part because he has a talent for scouring the globe, uncovering new sounds, and predicting trends. He's been big-upping moombahton since it was invented, and his knowledge of the genre is encyclopedic.
Speaking of its invention, no moombahton party could be complete without the creator, Dave Nada. Legend is that he created it on the fly while DJing a teen cousin's party by slowing down the Afrojack remix of Silvio Ecomo and DJ Chuckie's "Moombah." So if anyone can single-handedly change the direction of the genre, it's Mr. Nada.
And finally, rounding out Moombahton Massive's best-known names is Dillon Francis, a Skrillex protégé who is signed to the dubstepper's label, OWSLA. Plus, Miami-bred DJ Craze reps our city, whose subtropical climate is the perfect setting for moombahton.
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The Main Event. If there was ever a signature Hard sound, it's pounding, youthful, four-four electro-house, and the Main Event is stacked with the kings of that scene. Among the biggest names will be Boys Noize, the pseudonym of German producer Alex Ridha. Though he has moved away from the chain-saw bass lines of the late '00s, his sound has become even more supercharged, trading subtlety for the kinds of high bpms that make the peak hours go off.
Another headliner: Busy P, the man responsible for the entire wave of Ed Banger Records artists and all those who tried to imitate them. His sets are known for the cross-genre mayhem, and it's been awhile since he's released his own material. So with any luck, maybe Mr. P will pull out a new track or two for the Main Event.
Fellow Frenchman Brodinski, meanwhile, will bring bangers influenced by hip-hop and UK bass music. And yet another Parisian, Gesaffelstein, is gonna be dropping dirty, dark, robotic late-night techno.
As always, more "special guests" are expected. And with the week in full swing and only a night to go before Ultra, that almost guarantees another major name. But you'll have to last through the wee hours and go Hard to find out.