There is something to be said about a promoter who knows how to build a lineup from top to bottom. It’s one thing to build a lineup around 2-3 “headliners,” yet it’s something completely next level to pull together a talent roster that gets you going all day long. For Groove Cruise, that’s 96 consecutive hours of dedicated commitment. The “sleeper pick” has become a given in festival blog writing; the artists you might not notice immediately, but are packing serious heat. Some festivals make articles like these pretty hard to write. Groove Cruise, on the other hand, makes this game look easy.
1. DSK CHK
The man behind the Guy Fawkes mask is a cultural mainstay of the Groove Cruise. My first experience with DSK CHK came in 2013 after being dragged away from Markus Schultz’s 6-hour set for what was called the “Sunrise Set.” This set is by far the most coveted for all Groove Cruise artists, having four opportunities to play on the pool deck as the sun comes up, the mother of which comes as the final set on the final day as the boat heads back into Port of Miami. A self-proclaimed storyteller, DSK CHK put together one of the most beautiful progressive house sets I’ve ever seen, and etched Groove Cruise as my favorite festival, and I’ve been going back ever since. This set was juxtaposed against his 2014 set, held on the same pool deck, mid festival during peak hours. He was kind enough to let me know that “This ain’t a party, it’s a shit show,” as he screamed at the crowd while beatboxing. Having dragged about 15 other people to hear what I thought would be a repeat of the last year, it was heartbreaking. Who is DSK CHK really? This year is the tiebreaker.
Ermahgerd it’s the sandstorm guy!!!! No. Slap yourself. This guy is the real deal. He typically plays 2-3 sets every trip, and he’s not only a phenomenal DJ, frequently live mixing vocal samples pulled from the crowd during his sets, but he’s also the kind of nice guy that makes you donate your Christmas bonus to a local food pantry. His set was appropriately high-energy featuring music revered but off the current EDM top 40 (see: Robert Miles’ “Children”), mixed with interludes as he talked to us about some of his own personal journeys as an artist, including his own personal recommendation for ear plugs after letting us know he lost hearing in one of his ears. After the set, he went top deck, and spent the rest of the morning hanging out with attendees snapping photos.
3. Pierce Fulton
The dark side has not been friendly to progressive house artists over the past year, as we’ve seen some of the genre’s banner artists fall into playing trap and big room in their sets (coughAudiencough). In a rapidly shrinking list of artists who can be trusted to stick to their prog house guns, Pierce Fulton sits atop that list. He continues to churn out exceptional music following tracks like “Kuaga” and his remix of “Overloaded,” and we’d be shocked not to see new music from his recent “Shirts and Skins” collaboration with Ansel Elgort.
4. Speaker of the House
The melodic house maestro Speaker of the House is most definitely a rising star in the dance music arena. Fans like myself may remember back to EDC, when Speaker was slated during a very early timeslot, and because of the delayed opening of the gates…we were only able to groove to a few minutes of his incredibly original set. It’s time for an epic reprisal. Game on, GC.
The New York disco house duo Solidisco’s presence on the Pearl this year is from a genre that is not often represented among the festival circuit in the US, however the Whet Travel team’s booking prowess and vision showcases itself with the boys inclusion on this years’ festivities. Groove, engage.
6. Project 46
Much like the aforementioned Pierce Fulton, Project 46 have been representing the progressive in the “progressive house” genre quite admirably, especially with the exodus to cash in on the deeper house boom as of late. I can just imagine what the Canadian duo is going to bring during their prime time set taking place in the always-raucous Norwegian Pearl’s Theatre.
Josh Legg, aka Goldroom, is known for bringing his west coast vibes wherever he goes. Legg has been pioneering the melodic sound for a while now, before “tropical” was even a thing. Combining elements from nu-disco, to indie dance, all with his own west coast flare, Goldroom’s sets will have you vibing and grooving for hours. Did I mention that he’s playing a sunset set on the last day? After 4 long days of non-stop dancing, I can’t think of a better person to lead us all into the sunset back to reality.
*Sleeper sets picked by various staff members on EDMTunes, including Matt Fritsch, Adam Hilliard, and Dan Philibin.