Staff Picks: Five standout performances from Ultra Music Festival’s live stage
Staff Picks: Five standout performances from Ultra Music Festival's live stage
As highly as Ultra Music Festival is regarded for its unrelenting ability to bring electronic music’s most hailed talents to any of its many stages, one stage in particular has become a crossover bridge for the mainly EDM and DJ-focused festival to begin integrating other styles and translations of “dance music.” In a year where EDM has become more popular and versatile than ever before, it was no surprise that UMF easily delivered an impressive array of talents for their live stage. Acting as a crossover point for many new artists and even familiar groups looking for a chance at reinvention, the live stage provided the perfect backdrop for many a debut in sunny Miami. Recovering quickly from a rainy shut down on Friday night, the live stage was quick to recoup and deliver some of the weekend’s greatest performances. Flip for some of our staff choices of Ultra Music Festival’s best live stage performances.
Photo courtesy of Rukes.
Contributions from Eric Zwilling and Valerie Lee.
Though already confirmed for what seems to be a DJ set at EDC Las Vegas, it was a refreshing change of pace to experience the US live debut of Gorgon City. Performing favorites from their recent Sirens, the UK duo channeled their soulful hits one after another with help from powerhouse vocalists Lulu James and Josh Barry. Channeling a sound reminiscent of Disclosure, Gorgon City has primed themselves as a powerful duo with the ability to transform between traditional electronic sounds to the more widely adaptable live, electro sound. Transitioning without a hitch from long night, garage house vibes to the bright and joyous live renditions of “Imagination” and “Ready For Your Love,” Gorgon City brought out a smiling crowd of early festival goers who eagerly danced alongside James and Barry on stage.
Named as one of our ‘Rookies of UMF‘ to catch this year, Kiesza’s performance did not disappoint. A performer through and through, Kiesza donned an alien-esque baseball cap bodysuit and exuded infectious energy as she hit impossibly high notes while never missing a beat of her choreographed dance routine. Easily proving that she is more than just her major hit “Hideaway,” Kiesza captivated her audience with renditions from Sounds of a Woman. The crowd, already familiar with her work through her Jack Ü feature, received yet another special surprise appearance from the Canadian songbird when she joined Skrillex and Diplo during the Sunday evening closing set to perform “Take Ü There” alongside many other shocking star guests.
Unlike a few other headlining acts, Big Gigantic didn’t bring a new stage setup or debut a live show at Ultra – but they didn’t need to. The live saxophone and drum spectacle brought by Dom and Jeremy never fails to impress and entertain. Rocking day two after the sun gave way to the night sky, the duo brought out a number of their own fan favorites and a few covers from their producing peers. “I Need a Dollar” came along with special visuals that were specially crafted to suit the Live Stage’s provided production, with other Big G productions following suit. The crowd exploded when the duo hit with their live rendition of What So Not and RL Grime’s “Tell Me,” immediately following a shotuout to Flosstradamus and their hit with Troyboi “Soundclash.” To cap it all off, a coincidental yet seemingly perfectly planned firework show rose above the mainstage for all those watching Big Gigantic to share during their performance of “Touch the Sky,” adding that special touch to the mix.
Photo courtesy of Maria Jose Govea.
Undoubtedly, this year has been a monumental milestone for the now two-woman group, Krewella. Already facing the heat of their recent controversy, Yasmine and Jahan were put under a scrutinized microscope for their live debut on Sunday afternoon. Surprisingly, one would have never been able to guess the two were facing such intense pressure while watching their explosion of a performance to a flooding crowd of fans. Aided by a live band (as well as fully functioning CDJs), the sister duo swept their crowd away with an emotional, 100 MPH show that blended endless elements of the unexpected. A cover of “FourFiveSeconds” and a brand new song titled “Louder Than Bombs” were just two of the many welcomed surprises debuted throughout the punk rock inspired set – a set that has readied and now proven that the two are more than prepared to move forward with the future of Krewella.
Photo courtesy of Rukes.
Returning to festival performances, many were curious as to how Porter Robinson’s unique live set up would translate in the chaotic setting of Ultra Music Festival. His Worlds set up – a clear, otherworldly table for his live percussive and keyboard set up – though subtle, immediately blossomed to life the moment Porter began to play. Accompanied by captivating visual effects and firework displays, the North Carolina native reintroduced many of his beloved Worlds tunes into heart-pounding electro reworks. His thundering bass snags and skillfully timed interludes of Japanese excerpts continue to prove that deviating from the norm of DJ sets and transitioning to the live arena, though not easily accomplished, is a beautiful and rewarding accomplishment of pioneers of this year’s Ultra Music Festival live stage.
Photo courtesy of Donslens.