This year was the 19th edition of Ultra Music Festival. Being an Ultra-newbie, I was excited for what was in store for the next three days. With an average attendance that skyrocketed past 150,000 in recent times and another sold-out edition in 2017, Ultra Music Festival shows no signs of slowing down. Hundreds of DJ’s and attendees gathered at Bayfront Park to witness a variety of mind-blowing performances and surprise special guests.
Day 1: Usually, in March, Miami goes through a dry season, but that was not the case this weekend. Upon arrival, it was very windy, and there was intermittent rainfall throughout the day. Press check-in was a breeze; everyone was very nice. We started to walk around the festival to become familiar with the grounds. It’s impressive how far apart all the stages are from each other, providing a different atmosphere for each scene. Tchami delivered a holy set at the Ultra Mainstage. A surprise guest, DJ Snake, came out to party alongside him before dropping “Snakes” by Sikdope. As we continued to walk around, you can honestly see the diversity of cultures. The fashion was very appealing as well. You could tell that people’s outfits were thoroughly planned. Right at 8:30 we rushed to Arcadia to watch the landing show, and it was beautiful. The performers told a story, and it was unbelievable. The production was flawless. The spider became alive, shooting out flames hot enough to burn off your eyebrows. We later went to catch Zhu at the Live Stage. His set was one of the absolute best performances all weekend. Zhu enriched his keyboard synths and live vocals with a guitarist and a saxophonist. His mysterious stage presence was appealing, dressed in all black to hide his identity. Opening with his freshly released song “Nightcrawler". It was like as if the whole crowd was in-sync, dancing to the beat of the music and singing every lyric. Jai Wolf played an outstanding future bass-driven set at the Mad Decent Radio Stage. The crowd was in a happy, melodic trance, taking in the music and living in the moment. Also, Jauz made a special guest appearance and played a set at the Worldwide stage that had everyone shuffling. We walked up to the front to catch Datsik close the night, and we thought the rail was going to collapse. Headbangers went as hard as ever. This was only the beginning.
Day 2: The weather was the worst it has been all weekend on Saturday. Much of the day was partly cloudy with continuous rainfall. Regardless of this unfortunate weather, attendees continued to have a great time dancing in the rain, while others sought shelter. We started to head to the OWSLA Radio Stage where we caught the last of Sliinks’ Jersey club filled set that had everyone rump-shaking. The radio stage was nice because next to the stage there were a lot of trees that provided shade from the sun's intense rays. Some attendees would place their blankets on the grass and just enjoy the music. We then ran to the Live Stage to catch A$AP Ferg, because finally, some hip-hop. A massive crowd gathered waiting for the A$AP member to appear. When he finally did, there was a roar of excitement. Although he only performed a handful of songs like “Shabba” and “New Level,” it was a very high energy performance. About thirty minutes later, the rain started again; it was pouring. Luckily, we sought shelter at Heineken House. It was full of people unbothered, carrying on their conversations, casually drinking their Heineken. Around 8:30, the rain has finally slowed down to a drizzle, and we were able to make our way out. We returned to the OWSLA Radio Stage just in time to catch Valentino Khan throw down. Although everyone was drenched, it did not slow down the party. Mija appeared later, being the surprise-special guest. Once everyone saw her pink hair, the crowd was instantly excited and screamed: “we love you Mija!”. We decided to close the night with Carl Cox because we needed to see the legend himself. The Resistance stage was amazing, filled with LED screens that provided copious amounts of graphics and lights. The atmosphere was great, everyone was indulging in the music dancing and screaming in happiness. Day two was finally over.
Day 3: We decided to get there early to fully embrace the entire festival, plus it was the last day. Making our way in, we walked by the Worldwide stage and noticed 4B was playing and decided to stay. About ten minutes later, someone in front of us collapses to the ground. Everyone started screaming for the medics, and they arrived promptly to help the young man. We were quite impressed by their response time. It is now around 3:30 PM, and we were hungry. There were a variety of food vendors including Asian food and Hispanic food. We decided to get lamb gyros. Although the food was quite pricey, it was well worth it. The workers were also very attentive and kind. We walked back to catch Mercer, and as expected, he brought the house down. During his set, there was a surprise appearance by SAYMYNAME to perform their collaboration “Wanted.” We later walk back to the press area to conduct interviews with Getter and Eats Everything, they went very well. After our interviews, we ran to the Live Stage to catch Barclay Crenshaw. His set was fascinating and experimental. Half of the crowd was gathered in the front dancing, while the other half sat in the amphitheater seats vibing to the music. We decided to catch Eats Everything at Arcadia, and he did not disappoint. Fans and hands waved in the air as techno was blaring from the speakers. It was a party. To end the night, we walked back to the Live Stage to see Justice. They debuted their newly crafted live show. The French duo’s production was visually arresting including their signature LED cross. We were speechless. It was a change of pace from everything else at Ultra. Their set was super groovy, the perfect way to end the festival. While in the groove, we look over and Zedd was hanging out in the crowd! Day three has ended, and we couldn’t believe it was already over.
Photos: Proxy Matter (Brandon Artigas)
DAY 1 - DAY 2 - DAY 3
Writer: Diana Valdes
- Justice (live)
- ZHU (live)
- Barcley Crenshaw (live)
- Black Coffee
- Eats Everything
We want to thank Ultra Music Festival for giving us the opportunity to cover this amazing festival. We hope to return next year!
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