Miami University’s spring break saw students jetting off to a number of southern, sunny weather destinations, such as Gulf Shores, Panama City Beach and Cancun.
But for those seeking a more music-oriented vacation, it all went down in Miami for Miami Music Week and Ultra Music Festival.
“Ultra is a great place to blow off steam and go nuts,” senior Paul Van Wert, who attended Ultra last year said. “It’s also a great environment with awesome music.”
Held in downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park, the annual three-day music festival is one of the world’s biggest music festivals for electronic dance music (EDM).
Estimated crowds of 55,000 on each of its three days came from all over the world to see over 200 acts perform. Among them were popular EDM artists such as Hardwell, TiÃsto, Nicky Romero, Alesso, Krewella, Martin Garrix and the unprecedented debut of Jack U (Diplo and Skrillex).
“This was my first time to Ultra so I really did not know what to expect,” senior Christina Welch, said. “But it was amazing how many different types of people were there. Everyone was extremely happy and just enjoying good music.”
Ultra’s waterfront location is convenient for artists and music industry personnel.
The Biscayne Bay separates Miami’s South Beach from its downtown area where, in the days leading up to Ultra, record labels and talent agencies hosted private and ticketed events at the upscale nightclubs around Miami.
One of the 80 acts making its Ultra debut, DJ /producer MOTi specifically values Ultra fans.
“Ultra is great because its mostly ravers,” MOTi said. “They really want to party. EDM is waiting for the next big development in EDM productions. There’s going to be a new talent who’s gonna change it all. Not sure who this DJ’s gonna be!”
With the hype and international attention for this year’s Ultra festival accruing since the end of last year, security issues inevitably arose from the high price of the single Ultra ticket: $490 after taxes and extra fees. Fans unable to attend jumped the fences to get in Friday, March 28, causing the fence to fall on top of a female security guard, who suffered brain hemorrhages.
Both Welch and Van Wert, who were not witnesses to Friday’s incident, felt safe despite the security breach.
“I honestly did not notice much hostility in the crowd, there were 100,000 people there so I’m sure some aggression was present but I didn’t witness any in my vicinity,” Welch said.
Van Wert agreed.
“I don’t notice them [security] because I’m not doing anything wrong so I couldn’t tell you but the bike army of cops around after [the incident] would indicate that there is indeed a strong security presence, and so would the hour long search lines with patted down checks to get in,” Van Wert said.
On all three days, the DJs played their infectious, bass-driven tunes well into the night.
One could hear and feel the reverberating sounds from the festival’s house and trap anthems up to the 13th floor of the InterContinental hotel, across the street and behind Ultra.
A common theme of Ultra 2014 was surprise.
Not only did “Selfie” singers, The Chainsmokers, who played in Oxford last month, substitute for Laidback Luke on Friday’s main stage, but also Deadmau5 played in place of EDM superstar Avicii.
Almost every artist deployed new music to the sights of their own kaleidoscopic lights, scintillating lasers and fierce pyro-technics.
The colorful fireworks that lit up the cloudless night skies on all three nights could be seen in the distance as far as Coral Gables, approximately 30 minutes away.
Special guests including Waka Flocka Flame appeared, unannounced, joining Borgore and Flosstradamus, for live performances.
MOTi played a Saturday afternoon set on the main stage.
“It was amazing,” MOTi said. “I played a lot of new tracks for the first time. So it was great to see the response of the crowd on my new tracks. The craziest song was def my new collab with TiÃsto or my new collab with DVBBS.”
With the 16th edition of Ultra officially in the books, MOTi shared advice that TiÃsto would give to aspiring producers.
“Be creative,” MOTi said.