Last year when I attended Ultra Music Festival, it was only the second music festival I had ever been to. I was still a newbie in the scene and wasn’t really sure what to expect out of the music festival experience. I remember having an absolute blast, but somewhere along the lines the details had gotten lost in a mess of festivals I had attended since Ultra. Needless to say, when March rolled around and it was time to take the adventure to Miami for Miami Music Week, I knew I was in for quite the weekend. I was ready to create new Ultra memories and experience Miami in its full glory.
One thing I did differently for my 2016 Ultra experience that I didn’t do the previous year was really take advantage of the entire Miami Music Week experience. I arrived to Miami on Thursday and was able to attend the Oliver Heldens party at MAPS Backlot and Above & Beyond at the Old RC Cola plant. Both venues were located in the Art District, Wynwood, which I completely fell in love with. The entire area is covered with magical artwork and being rejuvenated with local businesses and art galleries. My experience at both parties was a lot of fun and definitely something I will plan for future Miami Music Week trips. It was nice to have plans outside of the festival and to get to experience different parts of the city.
Going into Ultra on the first day I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Last year we had a hard time with security and waiting in lines, so a lot of my memories from Ultra 2015 are really chaotic. Security ended up being a lot easier to deal with than last year which was a relief, and the lines moved a lot quicker. A smooth entry into any music festival is always a good recipe to start the day off with good vibes.
The funny thing about the first day of Ultra is that I don’t really remember who I saw. The only set I know I saw for sure was Snails and that’s because I Facetimed my mom in the middle of it. My memory isn’t skewed because I was intoxicated, but the first day for me was really about exploring the grounds and seeing the stages in person for the first time. Plus, no one really stood out to me much on the first day. What I do remember is spending some time on the 7up stage and making a ton of really fun Gifs with my friends at the booth they had set up. That was a blast.
On the second day, we started with DVBBS and W&W at the main stage and they both absolutely killed it. It was a great way to start the day off with a really hype energy. I also got to see Aluna George at the live stage that day and was really impressed. However my favorite set the second day was none other than The Chainsmokers at Worldwide. They are always one of my top acts to see at any festival and they definitely didn’t disappoint. As we were leaving the Worldwide stage and trying to figure out how to end our night, someone ran by us and said “deadmau5 is filling in at live stage!” We hurried over to join the sea of people getting to see this unexpected performance. That was my first time ever experiencing deadmau5 and it turned out to be one of my favorite moments of the entire weekend. It was a perfect ending to a great second day!
Day three was filled with such amazing music. I saw some really impressive sets from San Holo, Aly & Fila, and Sam Feldt. We headed over to see Galantis at main stage where they released their new single “No Money” and completely blew it out of the water. My two favorite sets of the whole weekend were on the third day. marshmello knows how to keep it dirty and interesting and I could not stop dancing during his entire set. Later that night, I got to see the legendary Rabbit In The Moon which was unlike any set I’ve ever seen. I had only heard of them before from some old school raver friends so I was excited to experience them in person. I was extremely impressed. The performance art they incorporated with their music was beautiful, mysterious, and attention grabbing. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the stage the entire time. My only regret throughout the whole weekend was choosing Knife Party and Pendulum over Tchami to close with, and even that choice wasn’t all that bad.
After the third night we decided to check out one of the after parties at SPACE to see Cosmic Gate which was quite the adventure in itself. I’m really glad we went because I feel like it perfectly rounded out my Miami Music Week/Ultra experience.
Ultra 2016 was not one to be forgotten. I think this festival is only getting better as time goes on. The event seemed way more organized this time around and the music, vibes, and people were on point. One impression that people have of Ultra is that it’s a money pit filled with “Bros” and daisy-headband wearing chicks. I personally think that Ultra is more focused on the music and urban feel and not just the rave environment, and that’s what makes Ultra a great festival. It continues to strive because it has its own identity. I can not wait to see what this festival will be pulling out of the hat for 2017.