Over 100 heart-pounding performances from DJs of all continents, 165,000 ridiculous outfits (or a complete lack of outfits) on fans from all over the world and three days of the sweatiest, loudest fun at the legendary electronic music festival in Downtown Miami- Ultra Music Festival. I scored the golden ticket to the Bayfront Park fest this past weekend and made my way to “party in the city where the heat is on” (props to Will Smith for making that line famous). Read on for the best and the worst from the craziest music fest I’ve attended thus far.
I’ve seen very few performers get as excited by being on stage as Steve Aoki. Returning to his birthplace of Miami, the electronic music DJ makes the top of my list of performers at Ultra Music Festival. He pounded onto stage for his late afternoon set ready to dominate the fest.
Steve Aoki interacted with the crowd throughout the entire set- at one point giving fans a champagne shower in the 90 degree sun. Steve Aoki must have been in a festive mood, because he whipped two birthday cakes into his rowdy fans to accompany the champagne shower. The girl atop a guy’s shoulders who took most of the cake beating to the face looked like she couldn’t be happier. Can you blame her- who doesn’t like cake? (Especially when it’s served by Steve Aoki?)
Dutch musician Tiesto also put on a hell of a show. Headlining Ultra on Friday night, the legendary DJ took no breaks and made no pauses in his beats- Tiesto was in Miami for the music. My favorite songs of his set included remixes of Coldplay’s Paradise and Temper Trap’s Sweet Disposition. Neon lights overtook the stage as Tiesto continued to wow the crowd, and downtown Miami looked beautiful illuminated by the pink, purple and green lights.
It pains me to say this, because I am a huge fan of Miike Snow’s music, but the Swedish band’s performance at Ultra was terrible. Technical difficulties plagued Miike Snow’s set; not only was there a problem with the sound and it was hard to hear the band, but at one point someone from the crew also knocked over a mic, producing a domino effect of falling microphones. Miike Snow’s music was just too relaxing and subdued for an Ultra crowd ready to rage.
French DJ David Guetta has become a household name. I’m not sure whether David Guetta thought his music was too mainstream for the Ultra audience or if he was hypnotized by all the Avicii advertising at the fest (see below), but Guetta hardly played any of his own music and instead mixed Avicii’s songs for what felt like his entire set. He topped it off with an unfortunate remix of Gotye’s Somebody I Used to Know fused with Avicii’s Levels. Stated simply, Guetta’s performance on Sunday night was boring.
Other Notable Mentions
I can’t say that I am a big Carl Cox fan, but standing among his fans at the Carl Cox stage on Saturday afternoon, I was surrounded by the wildest energy I experienced all through Ultra. It was an amazing set.
I was excited when Timbaland made a guest appearance during Dev’s set on Saturday to perform his new song “Break Ya Back.” Something was very off for Timbaland that day, though. The rapper/producer could not keep up with his playback and his performance was painful on the ears.
Wait… Avicii was at Ultra? If you were in Miami this past week and did not know that Avicii was going to be at Ultra, you had to have been living under a rock. From Avicii ice cream trucks, to I ❤ Avicii totebags, fans, tattoos and buttons, to the real showstopper- Avicii overhead airplane advertising, Avicii stamped his mark on Miami. With so much hype leading up to Avicii’s Saturday night performance, I was expecting something big from the Swedish DJ. Thankfully, he did not disappoint. Avicii’s show opened with an introduction from legendary pop icon Madonna, showing that electronic music has become fused into the new mainstream pop.