To explain what it’s like to attend Ultra Music Festival isn’t quite that easy. Sure, those who can’t grasp exactly what “EDM” is just don’t get it. To love house music along with it’s accompanying sub genres, is truly a sort of cult our generation has embraced. Over the course of 3 days, Weekend 1 welcomed well over 50,000 people. In retrospect, that’s a tiny portion of the music lovers around the world. But to us? Nope. It felt as if it was the only type of music surrounding us in our own little heaven.
Bayfront Park in downtown Miami welcomed back UMF and housed it for its second year. This year, Ultra expanded to 2 weekends (the best decision) and it featured seven stages going on at once and it would be a challenge to choose those select stages because in all honestly, each act playing was worth seeing. You try to make it to every stage and please everyone in your crew but it’s a tough call every time. My advice, go alone. Make it to those smaller stages and try new stuff out. You never know, you many fall in love with minimal or realize you actually like progressive house or discover a new song (get that Shazam app!). After all, Ultra is about discovering new music and artists but you'll also come across cool people along the way.
The colorful masses were covered in everything from bright neon, furry boots, country flags, and basically an "anything goes" attitude as they swarmed the entrance on Friday, March 15. Things were about to get real. Instead of giving a play-by-play of each day, we decided to narrow it down and highlight our faves from the best stage to the biggest surprise, and more.
Dog Blood: Dog Blood took over the Ultra Worldwide tent on Sunday at 5 p.m. as Skrillex and Boys Noize meshed their unique sounds creating what could possibly be an entire new sound for EDM. Read the full review here.
Zedd: Just last year at Ultra 2012, Zedd performed on the Main Stage at a 1:25pm time slot, so it was a must to see what he would bring having a later spot. He took the decks at 6:45pm on Sunday and played what I thought was the most surprising set the entire weekend. I’ve always been a fan of Zedd for the production work he did on his album Clarity. I was expecting a more commercial sounding set but he legit rocked the stage. He got into it with Knife Party’s “Destroy Them With Lazers,” “Push Play” by Miriam Bryant, and a track by 2Edit called “Datsun Tropicalia” (Torro Torro Remix). Of course, he dropped what was definitely a staple song of the weekend, his own “Clarity” feat. Foxes. I wouldn’t be surprised in the coming years if Zedd closes out the festival.
Armin Van Buuren: Trance fans have got to be the most loyal fans…ever. I’m not exactly a huge fan of the genre but after watching Armin close out the fest, I can definitely appreciate what he does and his music. I’m more likely to opt for a lesser known Trance artist and I’m a huge A&B fan, but now I sort of get why Armin is so loved.
Most Crazy Live Stage Act
Major Lazer: It was time to get free from the typical and I made my way over to the Live Stage to catch Diplo, Jamillionaire, and Walshy Fire of Major Lazer perform. Just as I got to the stage, I caught Diplo surfing through the crowd in a blow up ball. It was a nice turnaround to catch their show. Blasting their Reggae and Hip-Hop influenced sounds, the crew put on a show and really interacted with the crowd. Basically, everyone was expressing himself or herself and tons of twerking went down! Before you could blink your eye, Diplo’s shirt was off and they were encouraging the crowd to do the same as they played “Harlem Shake” as well as their own “Jah No Partial” feat. Flux Pavillion.
deadmau5: After months of anticipation, the ever outspoken Joel Zimmerman aka deadmau5 made his return to Ultra and closed out the festival on Saturday night. It would turn out to be an hour and 15 minutes of original mau5 tracks. As the infamous mouse head suddenly appeared on stage, “Superliminal” got things started off then moving into “Fml,” “Raise Your Weapon,” “Some Chords,” and “Moar Ghosts And Stuff.” German DJ/Producer Zedd even made a quick appearance on stage after a Twitter bet between the two.
Above & Beyond: If you’ve never been to an A&B show, you won’t understand. The British trio Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness, and Paavo Siljamäki set up their visuals and are known for their interaction with the entire crowd. You can find personalized messages written from them right then and there floating across the gigantic screen.
Tiesto and Avicii shorten sets to let Calvin Harris play: Calvin Harris was set to play the Space Ibiza tent on Sunday at 5:30, however, due to travel complications he was unable to make it to the festival in time. With that said, Kaskade took his slot. Once it was announced Calvin did make it to the festival, both Avicii and Tiesto shortened their sets to let Calvin play at 9pm for about 45 minutes. DJs looking out for other DJs is always a cool gesture to see.
Mega Structure: On both Friday and Saturday, Carl Cox hosted his own stage ‘Carl Cox & Friends’ and on Sunday it transformed into the Space Ibiza stage. Everything from the visual to the shifting screens above the crowd was an extremely cool feature.
Kaskade: The Main Stage on Saturday was set to be the climax of the entire day. Dance music heavyweights and headliners of the evening, Kaskade and Deadmau5 each played. I was hesitant on whether to go catch some of the DJs playing the smaller stages during Kaskade’s set but I opted out. A Kaskade set is definitely an experience. If you love melodic sounds then you will be lured right to wherever Kaskade is playing. He opened with “Turn It Down” his collab with Rebecca & Fiona and played his original hits like “Fire In Your New Shoes” feat. Dragonette, and “Angel On My Shoulder.” He went on to support other artists such as Seb Ingrosso and Tommy Trash’s “Reload” and Sander Van Doorn’s “Joynergizer.” He closed with his newest track “Lessons In Love” feat. Neon Trees and made his connection with his fans purely through his music selection.
Porter Robinson: Porter is without a doubt talented as a DJ and producer at such a young age. He dropped his hit with Mat Zo “Easy” and a nice selection of jams like “La Guitarra” by Orjan Nilsen, and the huge track “Incredible” by Carnage and Borgore. Porter was good and it’s obvious he’s honed his craft to the best of his abilities.