20 Years of Ultra
After months of hype and multiple phases of lineup additions, last weekends 20th anniversary of Ultra Music Festival Miami blew above and beyond all expectations. Held on the water in Miami’s beautiful Bayfront Park Friday, March 23 through March 25, the 20th anniversary of Ultra was a sellout celebration, bound together by a worldwide appreciation for music.
From the breathtaking waterfront location to over-the-top stages as well as the diverse lineup, to the unexpected special sets and surprise guests, Ultra has once again proven itself to be the world’s premier festival.
Another Sold Out Ultra
To no surprise, this year’s Ultra was another sellout event with 165,000 attendees from over 60 countries. People travel near and far to the world’s biggest EDM festival to party in the backdrop of the breathtaking Miami skyline. Likewise, the city of Miami and Ultra organizers were well prepared for the chaos.
Between the extensive security and police forces on duty, the closing of Biscayne Boulevard for safety and traffic reasons, and the convenient transportation options, the commitment to a smooth-running, safe party environment was self-evident.
Luckily, the weekend weather worked in Ultra’s favor with nothing but clear skies, warm sunshine and beautiful Miami weather. Bayfront Park was packed. During the three day festivities, six stages offered nonstop beats and fun for all the masses. Inevitably, one downside brought by the extensive lineup across the array of stages was the conflicting set times. Ultimately, this called for some running around or some sacrifices to be made.
On the plus side, there were more than enough heavy-hitting headliners and sprinkled surprises throughout each day to make up for any small losses. With performances from Adam Beyer, Carl Cox, Tchami x Malaa, and G-Eazy’s Ultra debut. There was also a surprise return of Swedish House Mafia. In addition, surprise performances by Above & Beyond, Will Smith, Halsey, Desiigner, Yo Gotti and many more. Ultra’s 20th anniversary was not just memorable – it was record-breaking.
While walking up to Bayfront Park to enter Ultra, you can hear the excitement from a distance. The exuberant energy radiates from inside the gates as festival-goers gather in lines awaiting their turn to enter the euphoric music paradise. Entering the festival brought on an overactive wave of good vibes and unity. Moving forward through this jam-packed weekend-long party, One EDM will highlight on some of the most memorable moments at Ultra.
Ultra Music Highlights
To get off to a strong start, Ultra Mainstage performances included the likes of DJ Snake, Hardwell, Armin Van Buuren and Steve Aoki. Notably, Miami native DJ/producer Steve Aoki threw down a plethora of his well-known tracks and remixes. Also, midway through his performance he brought out surprise guest Daddy Yankee to perform his world famous “Gasolina” and newer summer release “Dura.” Fans loved the unexpected addition to the already wild and upbeat set.
Tiësto, Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Jauz and Oliver Heldens are also among the leagues of legendary performers who took to Ultra’s Mainstage at Bayfront Park. Day three included artists David Guetta, Kaskade and a special surprise grand finale with Swedish House Mafia.
Second, the unique Ultra Worldwide stage brought the heat with A-list performances including Nightmare & Slander present Good Vibrations and the ever-so hypnotic and talented Rezz. The 22-year-old DJ and producer, Rezz, and her dark, sinister, dubby music have been growing exponentially in popularity. The young, Canadian master of sound has managed to create an unexplored, original genre which one cannot confine to the descriptive boundaries of others. In addition to her impeccable sound and an out-of-this-world visual display, Rezz wears her staple LED glasses to mesmerize the crowd further.
DJ after DJ, the special, dome-shaped Ultra Worldwide stage was a nonstop headbanging party. Curated to the event layout and to avoid the bleeding of sound between stages, the masterful dome-shaped construct of this stage worked remarkably to deliver superb quality performances within its given space.
In addition, there are Carl Cox’s two Resistance stages: the Megastructure and the Arcadian Spider. Since 2015, Ultra’s Resistance has been curated to deliver only the most proper techno and house to the dance floor. The Megastructure was blessed with performances by marathon king Joseph Capriati, Mr. Drumcode – Adam Beyer, and more. Opening up his set with “Grenade,” the fun track by Claude VonStroke and Eprom, Adam Beyer brought the heat from start to finish.
Special Back-to-Back Sets
Included in the Ultra Resistance line up were some very special back-to-back sets. At the Megastructure, techno mavens Dubfire, Nicole Moudaber and Paco Osuna went back to back to back. The Arcadian Spider also saw the likes of some special collaborations, including Guti (live) b2b wAFF, Patrick Topping b2b Nathan Barato and Technasia b2b Hector. The final day three collaboration at the Arcadian Spider was the super-group J.E.S.u.S, the b2b2b project by Jackmaster, Eats Everything, Skream, and Seth Troxler.
Carl Cox’s Closing Sets
Closing out Friday and Saturday was none other than Resistance ambassador Carl Cox himself with a two-hour special set. The energy was infectious and explosive from start to finish. Dance circles broke out sporadically throughout the crowd. Subsequently, people would shuffle in and out from the center, stepping to the beat and breaking it down in their moment of carefree bliss.
Surprise Guests & Veterans
Year after year, Ultra has a handful of special performances and surprise guests. This year, the surprises were plentiful and delightful. Marshmello brought out special guests Slushii, Yo Gotti, G-Eazy, and Lil Uzi Vert who all performed to a packed crowd. Following this, the one and only Will Smith made an appearance. He performed his international hit “Miami.”
On Sunday, the Resistance Megastructure was taken over by Armin van Buuren for a historic 850th ‘A State Of Trance.’ Surprise headliner and legendary trance group Above & Beyond joined the occasion as they closed out the festival with one of the most captivating and euphoric sets of the weekend.
Also, Ultra veterans Rabbit In The Moon and Josh Wink also graced the festival, having both performed at the very first Ultra Music Festival 20 years ago in 1999. Last but not least, day three’s grand finale with the reunion of Swedish House Mafia was an epic surprise ending to a monumental weekend.Photo credit: Davslens Photography
The sound quality from all of the stages was superb. Although the stages were close to each other and at high volume, the sound from each stage was clear, and there was minimal bleeding. As a result, it was easy to groove to the music played by the artists.Photo by Davslens Photography
Throughout the performances, the production featured LED lights perfectly choreographed to the music. Two of the stages also featured cannons that shot fire into the air at regular intervals. In addition, fireworks were precisely timed to go off as the beats dropped. Equally important, the main stage was huge. It easily compared in size to some of the nearby downtown buildings. One felt relatively small; however in the crowd of thousands, one was never alone.
Behind the main stage was the Arcadian Spider stage. It featured a giant metallic spider that stood above the crowd. On this stage, the DJ played from the center in a structure that suspended above the crowd. Once night hit, the giant red eyes of the spider lit up. While this happened, strobe lights colored the structure red and blue. The beat drops also sent fire into the air at regular intervals.
North of the main stage was the U shaped Ultra Worldwide stage. Not only was this stage shaped like a giant arch, but this stage also contained LED panels. These panels covered half of the giant archway. Behind this stage was the Resistance Megastructure. This stage had more of a nightclub feel. It consisted of a U-shaped structure backed with LED panels where the artist played. Lights hung from the ceiling as lasers shot into the crowd. Altogether it created an incredible and unique sound and light experience.
Swedish House Mafia Reunion
To top off the weekend Swedish house Mafia reunited on the main stage. After making a dramatic entrance, the trio consisting of Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso reunited at Ultra for a final set. They opened their set with “Miami 2 Ibiza.” The crowd of several thousand people went wild throughout their set. Meanwhile, the stage production contained a nice mix of carefully choreographed LED lights, fireworks and fire cannons.
Toward the end of their set, they played an extended version of “Don’t You Worry Child.” To complete the night they said goodnight and closed out in a spectacular fashion with an encore of their globally renowned track “One.” Meanwhile, fireworks streamed from the soundboard to the main stage, drawing the festival to an exuberant close.
An ULTRA big thanks to Ultra Music Festival for an epic 20th anniversary. Also, many thanks to all the staff and artists – this major event would not be possible without you all.
Connect With Ultra
Watch Ultra Music Festival 2018 Live Sets here.
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