Words by Jesse Serwer, Photos by Samuel Rivas—
We knew this year’s Winter Music Massive was going to be the most epic edition of our annual Winter Music Conference bashment in Miami. But even we didn’t realize how crazy this year’s party, presented with Jasmine Solano/Electric Punanny and 222 Worldwide, would be until surprise guests Stephen Marley and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley showed up and gave the jam-packed crowd an unexpected performance.
The party, at Miami arts venue LMNT’s new graffiti-venue The Alley Lounge, filled up quickly as Reid Waters and Spread Love (DJs Marrz + Karla Kenya) warmed up the crowd with diverse sets. Things turned up a few notches as Electric Punanny’s Melo-X and Jasmine Solano took over the decks, spinning dancehall with some assistance from a truly turned up Melanie Fiona. DJ Gravy took the music in a more cultural direction, setting up performances from two of reggae’s top rising stars, Jesse Royal and Jo Mersa Marley.
As his son closed out a brief set, Stephen Marley showed up and began to deliver his trademark anthem “Traffic Jam” over the Answer riddim, as his brother Damian emerged to join him and DJ Tom Laroc. With the vibes at their peak, DJ G ’90s deejay Alley Cat (aka Imperial) kept the energy flowing with a medley of forward-inciting tunes from his Madhouse Records catalog.
The vibe throughout the Winter Music Massive was more like a basement party than an industry showcase, and nowhere was this more evident than during Bunji Garlin and Fay-Ann Lyons‘ night-capping appearance. Bunji hit the stage—well, the DJ booth—first, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with his current smashes, “Differentology” and “Carnival Tabanca,” before wife Fay-Ann took over for her own “Gutter” and “Catch Me.”
As the police arrived to inspect the swelling crowd, Fay-Ann Lyons took control of the situation and directed everyone, Pied Piper-like, into the more spacious backstage area (a part of neighboring venue, LMNT) and continued to run through her hits, with Bunji capping things off with his latest Carnival anthem, “Truck on D Road.”
This is the third year that LargeUp has presented the Winter Music Massive, and each year the event keeps getting more special. We can’t quite imagine where we’re going to take it next year, but wherever it goes, it’s going to be massive. Who knows, we might just have to take this show on the road.
Click here to scroll through Samuel Rivas’ pics and relive the night, or see everything you missed.