Electronic dance music is taking over the United States of America. If the scales of the 27th annual Miami Music Week and 13th annual Ultra Music Festival aren’t enough to prove that to you, then take into consideration the EDM acts headlining other major festivals such as Coachella, Lollapalooza and SXSW as well as the push in Las Vegas to have world class DJs playing their clubs on a regular basis. Over 163,000 people attended Ultra Music Festival (UMF) this year and countless others made their way to venues in the greater Miami area.
Ultra was held in Bayfront Park this year, as the previous venue, Bicentennial Park, was under construction. While the change in venue provided festival goers with more “Miami” scenery, the change was not without logistical concerns. The new festival grounds had hills, trees, ramps and structures that UMF needed to address in the layout this year. Many Miami locals and Ultra vets were not thrilled about the new layout as there were countless bottlenecks and it took almost twenty minutes to get from one stage to the next. Hopefully this problem will be assuaged next year, as this is what many called a “learning curve year."
Logistical problems aside, UMF thirteen was a massive success. With eight stages that played host to a variety of new and veteran artists, EDM fans of any kind could leave the festival with a smile on their faces. Highlights of the first day included seventeen-year-old Madeon filling the UMF Korea stage with an audience of EDM enthusiasts much older then himself and absolutely blowing their expectations. Porter Robinson, another young producer at the age of 19, followed suit and proceeded to show the audience why he was one of the most talked about producers of 2011. Carl Cox hosted his own stage and put on a performance that people would be talking about for the rest of the week. Afrojack debuted new tunes for us, Skrillex dropped the bass like a Nikki Minaj lap dance, and Pretty Lights closed the night with his hip hop and soul infused grooves. The most underrated show of day one definitely went to Treasure Fingers who played my personal favorite set of the festival to an audience of no more then one hundred fifty people.
Saturday rolled around before many even realized Friday was over. The dubstep stage, UMF Brazil, was packed all day long and with duos like 12th Planet and Skrillex, Flux and Dr. P, and Zedds Dead and Omar Linx we wouldn’t have expected any less. In the live amphitheatre Mord Fustang brought us some energy and Little Dragon crooned to her fans, while 2manydjs provided the visual and audible stimulation many were craving. Annie Mac hosted her own stage and brought an eclectic lineup that included Tensnake, Brodinski, Dillion Francis and the tried and true Annie Mac herself. On the Main stage Eric Morillo debuted a collaboration with Chuckie, Fatboy Slim showed us that he may be aging, but still knows how to party, and Avicii and Madonna closed the night with the biggest collaboration of the weekend.
Day three was a trance lovers dream. The ASOT550 arena played host to Armin Van Buuren’s A State of Trance 550, which showed off the top names in trance including Armin himself, ATB, Gareth Emery, Dash Berlin, Ferry Corsten, and Tritonal. SBTRKT jammed on the live stage in their renowned tribal masks followed by the best Flying Lotus set I have ever seen. Fly Lo, the knob twisting artist out of LA that defies categorization, dropped Weezy, N**** in Paris, and closed with Waka’s Goin Hard in Da Paint. On the Main stage Knife Party got the crowd going and Kaskade played a whole slew of tracks off his album Fire and Ice while still giving us those classic cuts we craved. David Guetta got booed, but that’s what happens when you tease an audience too many times and don’t give them the drop. Over on the Live Stage, drum and bass legends Chase and Status warmed things up so Bassnectar could step on and immediately launch into his bass heavy set which promoted his upcoming Vava Voom tour. Bassnectar previewed his new stage set up at Ultra, and let me tell you, it is out of control. Go see him on this upcoming tour and you will not be disappointed. He closed out the night dropping in sync with fireworks exploding in the sky behind him.