Dancing Astronaut’s guide to Ultra 2014: Main Stage marvels, more than meets the eye
Dancing Astronaut's guide to Ultra 2014: Main Stage marvels, more than meets the eye
Upcoming artists, established veterans. A State of Trance movement, Carl Cox & Friends 10th anniversary. Monstrous Worldwide stage, hidden gem UMF Radio stage. One of the many components to Ultra’s stranglehold as the most prominent electronic music festival in North America is the wide-range of attractions and limitless possibilities presented to its diverse audience. But — and a major but — the largest appeal, and the one that is the core to any music festival, the Main Stage, is done bigger and better than any of its peers. It’s more than just a massive edifice for headliners, it’s a platform for unparalleled spectacle, a headline-making soapbox for dance music’s brightest stars. This year’s Main Stage is more than just a heavily packed lineup, it’s a calculated presentation to marvel at.
First afternoon, no time wasted
The magnetic forces of Bayfront Park play favorably towards an attendance large enough to disperse and selectively enjoy different sounds. But when passing the Main Stage, no matter where you’re heading, Ultra makes it so that you’ll gravitate to the biggest party within the party. And no time is wasted in doing so, not even on day one. Fridays often begin around mid-afternoon opposed to noon, and that late start is neutralized with each artist billed. Showtek will be the first to don the Main Stage, followed by Diplo and Zedd — acts worthy of headline time slots but fulfilling a supporting role. For a reason though, as those who round out the night are stars among stars.
Holo, Eric Prydz magnifies presence with new concept
Appearance at Ultra? Check. Cirez D in an arena? Scratched off the bucket list. Eric Prydz is taking Ultra Music Festival by storm since taking to its grounds in the first place — leaving no time for an ordinary set. Those rules still apply in 2014. In fact, they have his presence magnified exponentially. This year’s special arrangement from Pryda comes in the form of his new HOLO concept. Most of what this will entail remains under wraps, but its occupancy on the Main Stage opposed to any of the more intimate settings means, quite literally, “big.”
Friday night, done in classic UMF fashion
After the Main Stage attendance — which by dark is an endless sea of people — is surprised and expectedly impressed by Eric Prydz and HOLO, the final few hours will be closed out in classic Ultra fashion with two artists who have become as synonymous with the festival brand as anyone else. Kaskade will follow, as will Tiesto. Two icons who’ve made a habit of being the most memorable Ultra acts to be counted on one hand — sharing three or more consecutive hours and leaving a dent in this year’s events before it could even be considered in its fullest of forces.
Wildcard, putting the W in W&W
W&W came close to claiming a piece of Miami real estate last year when they packed out Armin van Buuren’s ASOT arena greater than all but Armin himself. Nearly one year later, that comes as no surprise — the duo is perhaps the most in-demand festival act this year, appealing to the largest pool of fans with trance, progressive, and big room styles all blended under the W&W flag. They’ve earned headliner status, but only at Ultra do they filter into the category as a hidden gem. Wildcard is not a word often, or ever, associated with W&W, but on Saturday of Ultra, with a Main Stage free-for-all, they’ve become just that — and that’s an attendee’s dream. What this offers is a bargain in the process of making difficult decisions on who to see and who to skip. Fans can get the peak hour Main Stage experience without sacrificing the remaining primetime selections.
Martin Garrix, the year's biggest debut
When Ultra Music Festival rolled through Miami for six days last year, Martin Garrix was only found on site hanging out with friends and soaking everything in from an admirer’s point of view. He also had yet to release “Animals.” So almost 365 days and uncountable airplays later, Garrix is primed to see the festival from another point of view. Slotted for an early evening set, Garrix will set sights upon a crowd larger than he’s ever seen before. His Ultra debut will be a landmark hour for the young producer, and the opportunity to gain more of a following as the attention is his for the taking.
Krewella, sophomore spotlight shines bright
The ground of Ultra Music Festival 2013 was buzzing with Krewella. Those who previously hadn’t heard of the trio now did, and their hype seemingly multiplied in hours alone, all before even taking the stage. When it came down to it, they debuted their live vocal act on the Live Stage during weekend one — a moment they had been planning for some time, and one that trended throughout the rest of festival season. Weekend two had Krewella on the even larger Worldwide Stage, leaving them with only one way to go. Picking up where they left off, they’re taking that next step — that long stride onto the Main Stage, where they’ll bring their all-encompassing, well-seasoned act to where it will make the most commotion.
Avicii, no question mark left behind
The word ‘ordinary’ has never crossed Avicii’s mind when working up a game plan for Ultra Music Festival. The term ‘outside the box’ is something that he’s dwarfed with Main Stage performances. And the question ‘has anyone seen Molly?’ set incredible standards for an artist who’d be invited to outdo himself year after year. Following 2012’s Madonna cameo, he rattled all that was steady with the live premiere of True in 2013. Following that bold move? A series of question marks. What Avicii has up his sleeve for Ultra’s Main Stage this year on night two is something that not even the most wild of imaginations could conjure to guess.
Winning formula, Sunnery James, Ryan Marciano, Nervo occupy daylight
It worked last year at the same site. It worked this summer at Tomorrowland. It’s worked at festivals in between. Whether by coincidence or not, Nervo and Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano are often scheduled to play one after another. What they have to offer is something fit for the afternoon hours, but with a certain edge that gives the sun, heat, and festival daylight that special afternoon energy.
Jack U, two headliners with one thing to prove
Skrillex has stood beside Boys Noize for a Dog Blood, Ultra showing before. But he’s also produced beneath the moniker, and has given a handful of other events the luxury of such live showcases. This year he returns with another partner in crime. Together, he and Diplo will perform as one. As Jack U. A collaborative live set that’s been rarely touted, making only a notable rendezvous at a Mad Decent Block Party stop and not even feeding the frenzy with tag team production work. Jack U will now be served up to the nation’s most adamant festival goers, not only setting up shop at Ultra Music Festival but skipping all venues and storming straight through to the Main Stage.
Steve Angello, returning to site of the split
It was the main attraction last year, and rightfully so. The final set from Swedish House Mafia made for a piece of Ultra history just as did the first. It was the most significant goodbye dance fans have had to endure since their era began. It’s even spreading across the world on the big screen as documented for the Leave The World Behind film. Now only one mafioso will return to the scene of the split. Steve Angello will grace the Main Stage on Sunday of Ultra. Without Axwell. Without Sebastian Ingrosso. And without the Swedish House Mafia dog and pony show.
Ironic underdog, questions and answers surrounding David Guetta
David Guetta is too often scoffed at when billed to headline festival. For the most part, he’s the expense festival-goers make when weighing opportunity cost for spending precious festival time. Also for the most part, that comes unjustified. Fans think they know what they’re going to get from Guetta but, if they stick around, they get that and more. His sets are a reflection of what most attendees had in mind when purchasing passes; recognizable vocals, contagious big room sounds, and something that’s relatable and highly danceable.
Hardwell, number one DJ takes the throne
Number one. Only Hardwell has that title to sport this year at Ultra, and for reasons that point to Ultras past. His dominance followed a festival season in which he was the most demanded and heralded headliner, this fueled by first toppling the biggest challenge to paving that path. His set last March made for a whirlwind of buzz and was heard around the world and understood to be the weekend’s best — by those in attendance and to those not. Where he left an explosion, Hardwell will return to claim his throne — single handedly closing out Ultra Music Festival until 2015.
Dancing Astronaut’s guide to Ultra 2014…Take the trip down memory lane and relive Ultra past