Dancing Astronaut’s seven can’t-miss sets during Ultra’s 2023 return to Bayfront Park
Just like that, it’s officially the time of year again where all productivity levels spiral downward as Ultra‘s move-in trucks slowly make their way through the streets of downtown Miami, Everything Ultra‘s Instagram notifications start reappearing, and a browser tab featuring the Bayfront Park Live Beach Cam is opened by those at home. If you can somehow believe it, a full calendar has nearly come and gone since Ultra made its Miami homecoming after a four-year absence from its longtime venue, which will remain its home through at least 2027. And the very same degree of excitement and anticipation for our annual return to Miami still remains at its same 2022 peaks as the countdown towards the final weekend of March 2023 nears zero.
When Ultra let its phase one billing loose on an unsuspecting late-September afternoon, the tone was set that its 2023 roster could potentially rank amongst its strongest in recent memory, with Swedish House Mafia—who were previously confirmed to headline a year earlier—being joined by an A-list group of dance music royalty that included Hardwell, Martin Garrix, Eric Prydz Presents HOLO, Carl Cox, Tale Of Us, Kx5, and many more. And that was only further reaffirmed with its subsequent reveals for RESISTANCE, phase two, and phase three, completing a unequivocally balanced, first-class Ultra lineup from its headliners all the down to its lesser-known names.
While set times are still likely a week or so out (having dropped on March 17 in 2022) in the distance—although we did just receive the full stage breakdowns, which can likely infer the lineup timing placements—we’re beginning to map out what our final days of Miami Music Week will look like. And we’re doing so by continuing our March tradition of highlighting artists that will not only be a part of our schedule once March 24, 25, and 26 hit, but also will be a part of the post-Ultra topics of discussion when the conversation around the set’s most memorable performances begins to bubble. Ultra’s lineup at large holds a must-see title, but we wanted to pinpoint just seven artists that are all but guaranteed to be the weekend’s most-talked about when it’s all said and done—ordered in terms of stage placements and performance days—including Charlotte de Witte, Eric Prydz Presents HOLO, ISOxo, Dom Dolla back-to-back Vintage Culture, Hardwell, Kyle Kinch, and Swedish House Mafia.
Charlotte de Witte
When: Friday, March 24
Techno will be represented on Ultra’s mainstage for the first time in its modern history. Charlotte de Witte has only been intertwined with Ultra once before—during 2019’s one-off relocation to Virginia Key—but in 2023, she’ll make her Bayfront Park debut with an unexpected yet welcome move out of the MegaStructure and over to the mainstage. After becoming both the first woman and techno artist to shut down Tomorrowland’s mainstage back in July 2022, the techno queen is set to make history once more in downtown Miami when she actualizes her placement on Ultra’s mainstage. With a collaborative EP beside her fiancé Enrico Sangiuiliano—who’s also traveling to Miami for a day three appearance at the MegaStructure—locked in for the Friday before Ultra and a more-than-likely batch of new KNTXT label IDs ready at the hip, Charlotte de Witte is primed to prove why both she and techno belong on arguably’s dance music’s biggest platform at the true onset of festival season.
Eric Prydz Presents HOLO
When: Friday, March 24
Where: MegaStructure (Closer)
It simply wouldn’t be a list of must-see Ultra sets—or any festival for that matter—without Eric Prydz’s HOLO. But before we go any further, we’ll address the elephant in the room. Yes, Prydz will likely have some sort of timetable crossover with Martin Garrix—who is closing the mainstage that same evening—although the hope is that Prydz receives close to two hours considering previous HOLO festival appearances in 2022 and the fact that Friday’s MegaStructure roster appears slightly shortened. All of that side, there’s extremely minimal explaining needed when it comes to HOLO’s must-attend status. After its final pre-pandemic appearances in New York in 2019, Prydz took the necessary time throughout the pandemic to reinvent one of live music’s most mind-numbing audiovisual experiences, debuting an updated form across three weekends at Tomorrowland. And with five months in between HOLO’s stop at Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome and its date with Bayfront Park at the end of March, Prydz will more than likely introduce an even more polished, ID-loaded version for its 2023 run, which is set to begin in where else but Miami.
When: Saturday, March 25
Where: Worldwide Stage
Outside of a surprise back-to-back with Skrillex on New Year’s Eve as well as a mixing/mastering credit on Quest For Fire, Dancing Astronaut‘s reigning co-2022 Breakout Artist of the Year—earned alongside Knock2—has kept relatively quiet in the time since his Nightrealm era-ending show in Los Angeles. But that two-night run over Thanksgiving weekend ended with the bombshell revelation that ISOxo’s first-ever album would be arriving at some point during the 2023 calendar. And with what appears to be a late-afternoon or early-evening slot on Ultra’s Worldwide stage on March 25, ISOxo will more than likely take the opportunity—with a livestream appearance hopefully in the cards—to drop the curtain on everything that’s to come in the near future in front of what may very well amount to his largest festival audience thus far. ISOxo already had a pile of IDs locked and loaded when he said his farewells to the era of his debut EP towards the end of 2022, and the likelihood that he crowd-tests more album material combined with the fact his live sets are rife with an unfathomable level of pure electricity, the day two appearance has all the potential in the world to surpass iconic status as trap courses throughout the Biscayne Boulevard airwaves towards Saturday night.
When: Saturday, March 25
Time seems to be moving at a pace way too quickly for our liking. Because we’re already nearing the one-year anniversary of Hardwell’s hiatus-shattering, all-time finale at Ultra’s Bayfront Park homecoming. A lot has happened in the year since for the Revealed Recordings boss, with a crowning of Dancing Astronaut‘s 2022 Album of the Year that would close the door on his first full calendar back in the dance music limelight since 2018. And while many were slightly surprised to learn he hadn’t been awarded Saturday closing duties, Hardwell’s Ultra set will eventually be hailed as legendary whether it’s during the broad daylight when the gates open or during the final hours of the evening. Hardwell is currently in the middle of unlocking six collaborative releases—having already delivered “Balança” with VINNE, “Twisted” with Will Sparks, and “Sloopkogel with Quitnino—with its latter half set to arrive at some point in the next month or so, including “Revolution” with Maddix and Timmy Trumpet—due March 17—an ID with Olly James, and “Judgement Day” with Sub Zero Project, the latter of which he confirmed will land post-Ultra. And during an AMA in the Revealed Discord, Hardwell also disclosed that he will understandably be trading out his “BROKEN MIRROR” and “INTO THE UNKNOWN” opening from the past year in favor of something fresh, with a new slate of never-before-heard IDs—including soon-to-be revealed collaborations—set to travel with him across the Atlantic Ocean from Breda to Miami.
When: Sunday, March 26
Where: The Cove (Opener)
It goes without saying that every second Ultra should not be taken for granted, and that’s why everyone should be overcoming any and all tiredness from the previous 48-plus hours and enter the gates as soon as security gives the green light on March 26. And that reason is for Kyle Kinch—named one of Dancing Astronaut‘s Artists to Watch in 2022—who is set to make his Ultra debut on the third and final day of Ultra 2023. When the lineup’s second wave was unveiled, Kinch explained that he was actually in attendance 11 years earlier when Carl Cox reprised his annual MegaStructure hosting duties, going on to buy his first set of decks the following week after being inspired by what he had witnessed the techno king do at Bayfront Park. More than a decade later, the blooming house talent—who became Gorgon City’s first-ever signee on Realm Records in 2018—is making his way back to Bayfront Park for a full-circle moment as part of Dirtybird’s stage takeover at The Cove. With his double-sided Bandersnatch EP landing just two weeks ahead of his Ultra set and furthering the reason to show up bright and early on day three, Kinch is ready to set the tone as a must-see opener as we wrap up another unforgettable edition of Ultra and Miami Music Week.
Swedish House Mafia
When: Sunday, March 26
Where: Mainstage (Closer)
The boys are about to be back in Miami. It doesn’t even feel real to type out that it’s about to be half a decade since Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso, and Steve Angello not-so-shockingly reformed Swedish House Mafia to shut down Ultra’s 20th anniversary celebration. And the end of March will also mark another inconceivable anniversary: a full 10 years since their final One Last Tour stop and debatably—but not really—dance music’s single most iconic set of the 2010s. Since the conclusion of the Paradise Again tour in November 2022, the Swedes as a collective have relatively layed low beyond any Buy Now or solo efforts—outside of a run of one-off shows in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, and Cancùn, as well as a contribution to the Avatar: The Way Of Water soundtrack with The Weeknd—taking a well-earned break ahead of what was planned for the new year. There’s no exact insight as to what everyone should expect on March 26 when Swedish House Mafia wrap up what’s guaranteed to be another priceless three days at Bayfront Park. On their final show of 2022 in Mexico, they debuted what seemed to be a “lite” iteration of the Alexander Wessely-designed ring that traveled with them throughout the Paradise Again tour, leading some to believe it may have been a subtle preview of what their adapted setup for festivals could look like. There’s no wrong answers in deciding on a Sunday night closer—although it may be a gut-wrenching decision in the process deciding specifically between them and Kx5—and while we may be left to guess what the set will exactly look like both visually or sonically—likely including Paradise Again tracks, golden age classics, and potentially even new or unreleased music like “Finally” with Alicia Keys—we’ll be standing before them to witness three of dance music’s greatest make history just as we did both five and ten years earlier.
Featured image: Alive Coverage