Ultra is one of Miami’s biggest events and it’s supposedly the largest House/electronic music festival in the world! About 165,000 people this year, most dressed in neon, descended on Bayfront Park for three-days for a sick line-up of house music artists- including Avicii, Tiesto, Steve Aoki, Benny Benassi, Justice, Kaskade, David Guetta, and more.
The music starts at 4 on Friday and noon on Saturday and Sunday and goes until about midnight (when Miami allows music to go to). Ultra definitely has a very noticeable affect on Miami, especially in my neighborhood not too far from the venue- the causeways are packed, cabs all over the place (although they are pretty impossible to get), people decked out in neon and all sorts of getups and you can hear the music from a lot of points in downtown and Brickell. It’s an extreme sensory experience even if you’re not attending.
I have a lot of friends that are very into house music and do music festivals all the time like Electric Daisy Carnival and they definitely have made me come to enjoy and appreciate house music and I include it in my diverse set of music, but I definitely am not as obsessed as they (though that could definitely change after this Ultra experience). I have been trying to get them to come out for Ultra for the last two years. Waiting for them to make a decision kind of made me miss the boat last year, but this year I definitely wanted to check it out even if they didn’t come out. They didn’t and will be forever jealous and regretful (even watching it on the live YouTube feed they were blown away). I bought just the Saturday pass from one of my friends who wasn’t going that day since I had some family obligations on Sunday and I had a blast last night and I think next year I will have to buy the entire three-day pass.
Saturday the music starts at 12 but it takes an insane amount of energy and work to attend the entire day. I had wanted to see Afrojack at 2:15 but our group’s schedule was a little delayed from that and it was probably a really good thing we went later. Around 3 we headed to a friend’s place in the Icon just across the river from the Bayfront Park (so we were able to hear quite a bit of it from there). Around 5 or so we headed over and entered. Ultra takes up most of the park and has a main stage where the biggest artists perform, but also has some smaller stages elsewhere in the park. I wish I could say I knew a lot of the performers on at the time of the day, but my house music expertise comes mostly from my friends’ recommendations and what I pick up from them on Facebook/Spotify. Even not being as familiar with the performers it was still tons of fun. The whole environment was just awesome with the different music going on and people dancing and having so much fun.
We wandered and checked out a lot of different performers until about 8 PM when we found a spot near the main stage. The weather was beautiful yesterday- Miami at its finest- so it was a great day to be out in the sun on the water, but I think Ultra reached a whole other level once it got dark. The light show and special effects on stage were incredible (insane in 3D glasses) and just heightened the performances.
The highlight of the night without a doubt was Avicii ending it! Avicii is one of the artists I am most familiar and I really like his work. And at Ultra- it was just unreal, no words (but I’ll try). The beats, the lights, the energy of the crowd was was sick. It started out with a video of performers talking about electronic music and then a little snippet at the end of the video of Madonna saying how much she loves electronic music. And then all of a sudden there Madonna was on stage! She introduced Avicii and started dancing along which was really cool and then Avicii just did work. His entire performance was incredible, but in the break after each song you could hear people starting to make the beat for his song Levels. Of course appropriately he saved it for the end. Not only did he do Levels, but he also did the Levels/Gotye “Someone I Used To Know” remix, which is one of my top songs of my current main playlist. Combined with everyone singing along, dancing, the lights, fireworks, fire it was out of control! My friend watching it on YouTube said it was a sensory orgasm and being there was so tight.
I’m rocking out to Avicii as I type this currently and am still ecstatic about the whole experience last night. The Sunday line-up (Kaskade, David Guetta, Steve Aoki, and more) is epic and I wish I could go today. There is no doubt I will be back next year! Obviously if you love House music there is no question you should go, but even if you’re not super into House music it still is an awesome experience being there and a lot of my friends who went had an amazing time even though they don’t regularly listen to House music. 363 days until the Friday of next year’s Ultra!