Written by Grant Albert
Miami geared up for yet another Ultra Music Festival weekend. Traffic tie-ups, booked hotels, $5 water bottles and the sight of minimally dressed electronic fanatics took over Downtown Miami. With a new 18-and-over age policy and a ticket worth more than a used Macbook, we stormed the gates of the ever improved Ultra Music Festival.
What made this year so fantastic was the showcase of the underground, live, and techno performers and the slow but steady transition towards those genres. As the festival gates started to open, these were just the finite amount of sets that were covered.
Friday was a day of hard-hitting, furious bass slamming, hi-hat ringing techno delight; with the Carl Cox Megastructure as the place to be. England’s Jon Rundell opened the spaceship based design of the Megastructure as the perfect warm-up to rally up diehard techno fans and newcomers alike for the night to come. Next up was another English tech-house performer who goes by the name Hot Since 82. With fresh new tracks from his Knee-Deep in Sound record label, he delivered the funk and geared us up for the dark, powerful sound of Drumcode.
Drumcode is a label headed by Swedish DJ Adam Beyer. Mr. Drumcode himself did a back-to-back set with his wife, Ida Engberg, who was on a three-month hiatus after having their third child. As the sun was starting to set after some heavy downpour, the darker and more ominous sound of techno was exposed, leading the true techno fans on a journey. Italy’s own Marco Carola exploded the stage with teeth grinding techno, deep bass lines, and hi-hats. A set of simplicity done with such remarkable technique shows that Marco Carola is truly one of the best. As Friday was coming close to an end, the attendants were left with one set to choose from: Tiesto? Zeds Dead? No, we geared up for the one and only Carl Cox, the acclaimed “King of Techno.” With powerhouse tracks for an hour and a half, it was utter techno madness in his tent and the perfect way to end a chilly Saturday morning.
On the unusually cool Saturday (Day 2), the metro was flooded with neon “ragers” all living on the hype of Ultra. While the Main Stage was being, well, mainstream, we gathered at the first ever Resistance Stage. With all the acts being covered on Be-at.Tv, the 360-degrees accessible stage was covered with the lovers of the underground. Despite the short sets and rather spotty sound quality, the Resistance stage was fantastic. We heard sets from Marco Bailey, Jooris Voorn, and one of Drumcode’s top DJs, Joseph Capriati. All of whom brought dark vibes to a hungry attendance.
Around seven o’clock, it was time to head back to the last night of the Carl Cox Megastructure. German DJ Loco Dice was spinning and brought in the smoothest transitions of the night. Loco Dice paved the way for the one and only Carl Cox who does not hold back. Techno fanatics and novices all gathered to hear the king. The sound system was incredible and Carl played a variety of genres and did not lose the crowd once for the eleventh straight year at Ultra.
On the metro back, I overheard a person talking to one of his friends. He said, “I would totally say that Ultra impacted my life.” Although the statement may seem shallow to some, I would have to agree. Ultra Music Festival is a magical place that anyone with the slightest interest in electronic music should attend. Between the tour-de-force production and overall lineup, Ultra is a festival that is hard to compete against. Despite hostility from local politicians and some Downtown residents, Ultra is a festival that I truly hope does not disappear from the sunny shores of Downtown Miami.
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