©photo by: rudgr.com
Founded in 1999, Ultra Music Festival makes its rounds across the world featuring stops like Brazil, Bali, and of course, Miami. Miami has been conveniently nuzzled towards the end of Winter Music Conference/ Miami Music Week, and so the best of the best come out to play. While walking around UMF you can spot out some of the elite in the industry. It’s really the best place to make friends, find familiar faces, and lose yourself in good music. The EDMNYC team had the opportunity to explore the depths of UMF… Here’s a little bit of what we found…
Day One: Friday 3/27
Friday night we stepped onto the Ultra grounds and went straight to the UMF radio stage to see Dutch duo Firebeatz. Ironically, prompt to our arrival they played their track produced with Schella, “Dear New York.” It’s like they knew EDMNYC was there to represent. Next up they played their record created with Chocolate Puma “I Can’t Understand.” As it started to rain, the crowd didn’t even blink and they just kept dancing. Just before management unfortunately shut down the stage due to safety issues from the rain; they played a new ID track but announced it’s produced with Dubvision.
Excision + Andy C
An artist i’ve never seen live, but have heard great reviews is dubstep producer/ Dj Jeff Abel aka Excision. I headed over to the Ultra Japan stage to check him out and it was packed! He dropped drum and bass/ dubstep track “Stomp” produced by Getter and “Codename X” off his new album got the crowd going completely mental. The drum and bass king, Andy C had everyone raging in the rain on the Ultra Japan stage. His latest track “Heartbeat Loud” featuring the incredible vocals of Fiora was exhilarating to hear live.
Maceo Plex delivered the sexy techno/ tech house beats at the Resistance Stage. Located in the deepest corner of the fair grounds, the trek was well worth it. The stage looked like an LED space ship and had fire shooting out of what appeared to be tiki torches. Day one was almost over and everyone was soaking up every last sound. We just love his track “Conjure Dreams,” instant chills arose hearing it live!
Röyksopp describes themselves as “A two-headed norwegian monster, dealing within the realm of contemporary electronic music.” At the Live Stage they were absolute beasts as one member destroyed the drums and the other took care of the mixing. Fog and yellow lights streamed over the stage to close out Friday of Ultra and explosive fireworks were visible coming from the Main Stage. We’re ready for day two!
Day Two: Saturday, 3/28
The mega structure is something that can’t be explained to the average individual. It’s a magical place of deep, dark, melodic beats. Throughout the weekend, some of the best talent was flaunted within the depths of the magical shade the mega structure provided. It came as no surprise that Carl Cox and Friends brought one of the most popular group of sets to Ultra Music Festival. Besides all the depth of the megastructure, the main stage and live stage were also in our sites. The main stage is seen as the most important, but we seemed to gravitate on over to the live stage as well — it brought a breathe of fresh air to things.
Hot Since 82
With the “underground” fast arising and the current sounds circulating so rapidly, we took a minute to stop by with British underground stud, Daley Padley – also known as Hot Since 82. His set took us on a funky journey through time and space and really provided everything that the scene is looking for today. With an impeccable track selection of top notch songs like his remixes of “Cameleon” and “Recluse,” he had the crowd swaying at the touch of a button.
Hot Since 82 has been around for a while, but his name is really starting to circulate more and more everyday. Hats off to him for an impeccable set that brought great energy and stamina to the underground crowd. If you weren’t in Miami with us, he makes his return to NYC at one of our favorite spots, Verboten on April 25!
Oh yes, oh yes Miami! You better know the King of the mega structure returned to his thrown for some good fun with his friends – he left everyone “wanting more Cox.” Let’s be honest, the guy is a techno legend. He’s damn good at what he does and he really showed up to play this year at Ultra Music Festival. Does it come as a surprise that a good majority of both of his sets were ID after ID after ID? His Friday night set was much more recognizable, but we bow down to the man for keeping us on our feet.
His unique sound and his desire to break through barriers and find new sounds makes him one of the best and there is no denying that! What man can play two days of Ultra and still have a massive crowd for both? Oh that’s right… that leads us into our next topic up for discussion.
Armin van Buuren
It’s well known that Armin can play all across the board and two days of him truly exemplifies that well. He goes from a lighter, more electro sounding set on Saturday to hard hitting 138 BPM on Sunday for his A State Of Trance set. To kick things off at the main stage, Armin opened up with his newly released collaboration with Mark Sixma, “Panta Rhei.” His set varied from deep melodic trance to well-known sounds like his Bigfoot v Ping Pong mashup and the MaRLo remix of “Shelter.”
The energy at that stage was something else. Not to mention, he controlled his lights! For those of you that haven’t seen Armin van Buuren live in a while, he is in the process of building up the newest thing – through two wrist bands that he wears during his sets, he has complete control over some of the production that goes on including visuals and lasers. If his live sets weren’t on point and unique enough for you, he brought the game to the next level.
French, deep house producer Klingande made his debut on the Live Stage and played classic tracks such as “Bulletproof” by La Roux but kept it fresh with the Gamper and Dadoni remix. He dropped his original track “Punga” and Zombie Nation blared on the sax as everyone chanted along. Klingande’s use of piano and saxophone combined with electronica creates a beautiful sound and we just can’t get enough of it.
Deep Dish properly began their set with “Say Hello” as attendees cheered and welcomed them on stage. Dubfire and Sharam played an epic version of “Proper Education,” a mashup with Eric Prydz vs. Pink Floyd, and their legendary record created with Stevie Nicks “Dreams.” Deep Dish has been going strong in the game since the 90s remixing tracks of artists from Janet Jackson to BT. Their eclectic range of musical taste has kept their music organic over the years and their 2015 Ultra set is straight fire.
Day Three: Sunday 3/29
Sunday brought great fun, exhausted little dancers, great food from the Ultra Vendors, and of course trance! For those that are in touch with their soft, melodic, and Zen side, A State Of Trance 700 MIA was the place to be – all day long (just kidding, as the sun went down, the beats got deeper). Another Ultra, Another A.S.O.T. It comes as no surprise that Armin van Buuren can still bring one of the best parties to Miami after all of these years. AvB played one of his greatest sets to date — going in hard from the start and we even had a little friend on stage when Eric Prydz brought his daughter up to say Hi. It was a magical day all around.
Of course ASOT700 had taken off in a few other locations, but Ultra brings something special for the trance family under the mega structure. Plus, there was a live stream that took place over the course of the day that included fans, artists, and a ton of beautiful music. If you haven’t done so already, check out our interviews with Mark Sixma, MaRLo, and Heatbeat now! We dug through the depths to found out their dirty little secrets.
Being the first set of the day, it’s never easy. Mark Sixma went strong from the very beginning though and watched the crowd fill in very fast. No one wanted to miss a minute of ASOT700MIA. What better way to kick off Sunday morning in trance heaven than with tracks like his remix of Darudes’ “Sandstorm” and Sensualise’s mashup “Crushed Satellite.” He went on to play a handful of his own originals and remixes and the mega structure filled. It was the best way to kick off the day and an overall fan favorite of the entire day at ASOT.
Next on the lineup was some fresh Argentina talent making their Ultra Miami debut. They bring such a unique sound to the A State Of Trance lineup that nearly brings a mix of genres that feel like trance, future house, and electro – but they make it work! Their track selection varied from well known tracks like Mark Sixma’s remix of “Save My Night” to an interesting mashup of “Pompeii” and “Language.”
Their production is fast moving and we look forward to their future endeavors with Armada Music and hopefully having them back in the United States.
The first set of chills for the day came when Australian legend in the making, MaRLo hit the stage. He played a truly melodic set that brought an array of beautiful vocal tracks and classic sounds. He engaged with his fans in the perfect way – shirts were thrown into the crowd, a giant kangaroo was raised on the booth, and of course an Australian flag was hoisted high above the giant Ultra crowd that had finally formulated.
He opened up with a track that he created with his wife, Jano, called “Haunted,” went on to play his beautiful remix of “Shelter” and his original with Christina Novelli, “Hold It Together.” His track list swept through a list of highs and lows that hit the crowds right in the feels – it’s no wonder Armin has included him on a handful of the latest lineups.
To call him a “Modern Day Mozart” is the best way to put it. The 22 year old Moldovan is truly a performer and can get a reaction from nearly any crowd he performs for. His track lists are typically compiled of 80% of his own tracks, which also sets him aside from your typical DJ. Hopping up on the decks with an ASOT flag flying high, he dropped his first track of the afternoon, “Daylight.”
His energy behind the decks is undeniable setting him aside even more and his variety in track selection is impeccable. Rayel goes all across the board hitting soft melodic tracks like his original “One In A Million” all the way up to the more vibrant side of things with his bootleg of “Reload.” Between throwbacks and new tracks, he wowed the crowd and brought his signature sound to Ultra. There is no telling where his future might take him, but it’s sure to bring success.
By Cristiana Votta & Ashley Zucker For EDMNYC
Featured photo by Doug Van Sant