Twenty years, that’s how long Ultra Music Festival has been around for - on the weekend of March 23rd – March 25th the people of Ultra celebrated twenty years of monumental performances, worldly connections, memories that will last a lifetime, and ultimate surprises. With this being its biggest milestone yet, Ultra had to go all out. Located in the heart of downtown Miami at Bayfront Park - people from all over the world rejoiced in the name of music and celebrated Ultra’s 20th Anniversary. Two of our editors had the opportunity to cover one of dance music’s biggest event.
Day one began with an overwhelming of excitement and eagerness to once again take on Ultra Music Festival. With only wanting to see a few artists on one of the greatest lineup formations in Ultra history immediately heading to the Resistance Megastructure for performances from Joseph Capriati, Adam Beyer, and Carl Cox. Everywhere you turned you would either see Drumcode or Awakenings attire instantly making connections with other people who loved techno. Making it for the end of Capriati’s set which was powerful. Adam Beyer came onto the decks and he was one of the top favorites of the entire weekend. Delivering another perfect set filled with dark sexy tracks such as Bart Skils - Losing Your Mind (Tool Mix) , Boxia’s No World Order, and a few IDs, giving a small taste of what will come of the next night with his event with Cirez D. Throughout the entire set kept saying "I can’t wait for tomorrow". Closing out the night was the king of techno - Carl Cox. Starting off his set full force with Gary Beck’s Just One More, “Oh Yes! Oh Yes! Oh Yes!” he says into the microphone with excitement releasing his incredible vibes into the crowd everyone cheers - oh yes indeed! The majority of his set were IDs, completing his night one set with Ninetoes’ Finder. This year’s Resistance Megastructure constructed a towering formation into a giant vortex taking you on a trip of a lifetime.
Day two started off with a massive back-to-back performance from techno heavyweights Dubfire, Nicole Moudaber, and Paco Osuna and it was lethal. Viewing from the VIP section at the megastructure was vast seeing the entire crowd dancing along to the beats from these legendary artists. Heading over to Resistance Arcadia Spider stage to see another back-to-back performance from Technasia and Hector, then NY techno hero Danny Tenaglia. Heading back to the megastructure for Maceo Plex and Jamie Jones but first had to stop at the Worldwide stage for Italian master Benny Benassi, playing favorites like Cinema, Satisfaction, and Beautiful People. Closing out the night was again with Carl's second performance at the megastructure. Night two set was darker than night one where Cox fans get the full spectrum how the king of techno celebrating Ultra’s milestone. Heading back to the Resistance Spider stage for a live performance from Maetrik - Mace Plex’ new project. Flames were shooting out of the stage, people dancing with grins on their faces, completely tuning out the rest of the festival sounds and only hearing the dark and mind-blowing set which extremely intense giving the saying “music is my drug”. Ending the night perfectly and it wasn’t over yet.
Day three, the final day of the historic celebration. Sundays at Ultra Music Festival is dedicated to Trance. Where the king Armin van Buuren takes over the megastructure and turns into his A State of Trance ASOT. Arriving just in time for Israel’s Vini Vici - giving an extraordinary performance with the speakers so loud the body vibrates along with the music. People jumping up and down with enormous energy. Had to stay to see a little of Armin van Buuren, without him there would be no ASOT - had pay respect to the legend. Heading over to the Worldwide stage for Andy C and Kayzo who brought the bass and head-banging out of everyone. With massive dubstep tracks, remixes and disgusting drops along with those wild mosh pits. Making way over to the Live stage for a quick cool down seeing the end of Modestep which was pleasant.
It was almost 8 PM | 20:00 time for a completely different form of the term ‘dance music’ the one and only Eric Prydz. Still cleaning the pieces of brains from the previous night at Soho Studios, the body was filled with excitement. Getting the complete upfront spot for favorite artists Eric Prydz, tears starting falling down the as his set began in complete unbelief that again I will witness another historic performance. Show all sides of the artist - his set was liberating and euphoric filled with mostly IDs that we hope will soon be released this year. Along with released music such as from Pryda - Elements, Wakanpi and under Eric Prydz - Liam. Experiencing his set along with other fans all from different parts of the globe was seeing everyone’s expressions was heavenly. Cheering and screaming for more even though the crowd knew it was almost over, he closes out with the ultimate classic and celebrating it’s 10 years since the release was Pjanoo. Saying "don’t go" - we wanted more but it was the cherry on the perfect sundae of Sunday performances at Ultra. The night wasn’t over yet as roomers flutter throughout the entire weekend of a Swedish House Mafia reunion to close out Ultra’s 20th celebration.
The anticipation was building up more and more intense as the clock reaches its time for closing slots. The MainStage was completely packed with fans waiting to see history in the making. There was the loudest roar in the air when the lights came on, there they were all three members of Swedish House Mafia back together after five years of separation. “Miami, we missed you” - the crowd screamed as they appeared. It wasn’t the first time seeing them but it was a completely different experience than their last show. When SHM dropped Don’t You Worry Child I was standing on the hill gazing over into the crowd, thinking back of all the memories and how everything evolved over the years, then tears came pouring down the face knowing that this will be a moment that will be cherished forever.
With the overwhelming feeling inside had to go over to the Resistance Arcadia Spider stage to witness the greatest combination of DJs in techno history to create JESUS. Made of up the finest techno artists in the scene, Jackmaster, Eats Everything, and Skream. Playing all of the hard-hitting classics. Completing the night and making it one of the best sets of the night.
Through the 5 years of attending and covering Ultra Music Festival, by far this was the best year ever. With an entirely different outlook of dance music and knowing all genres and realms of dance music, it was even more difficult to pick top favorite acts of the weekend. Congratulations to Ultra Music Festival to making it through 20 years of craziness, unforgettable memories, making new friends and loved ones, and music. To another 20 years of Ultra.
Top 5 Acts of Ultra 20:
Swedish House Mafia