As a child we ventured to Orlando to go to the happiest place on Earth. Some years later we wander a little further south and go to a different version of the happiest place on Earth: Miami and South Beach for Miami Music Week and the three-day Ultra Music Festival.
The third and final day of UMF (day one recap here; day two recap here) traditionally marks the culmination of the days and nights of festivities and it seems it’s the “let’s fit in all the fun and craziness we haven’t covered yet because it’s almost over” mentality is prominent. It as if we try to see all of the artists at all of the stages for fear of missing something cool. But like Orlando’s theme park mentioned above, you just can’t see it all in one day.
As the masses were still flowing in, UMF’s Stage 7 hosted DJ Ideal who was blasting ATB’s old-school classic “You’re Not Alone” in conjunction with the ambiance and haze from the fog machine. Given some time at the scaffolding style stage and dance floor, revelers might mistake the hazy reaction from the aerosol paint fumes wafting up from the graffiti artists below the stage with the overly emotive effects from the music.
At the Ultra Korea Stage TJR dropped “Booty In Your Face” and the already roused crowd raged into stomping madness overflowing the designated, grassy-ground dance arena. In keeping with a similar theme Dizzee Rascal entertained at the Live Stage with the carefree, “All I do is flex, I don’t need a reason / All I want is sex, I don’t need a reason.” At the song break he offered, “For those of you, if this is your first time, I’m Dizzee Rascal. What’s my name?”
Rascal: What’s my name?
Rascal and his backup entourage then harmonized into, “He’s jus’ a Rascal. Dizzee Rascal. He’s jus a Rascal. Dizzee Rascal,” with their signature hip-hop beat accompaniment.
The A State Of Trance Tent was well underway with Myon & Shane 54 at the helm dropping the Daft Punk great “One More Time.” And later they had the crowd passionately singing along equally as loud on the lovely “Young And Beautiful.”
Back at the Ultra Korea Stage it was tough act to follow from the energy of TJR but leave it to MAKJ to pull it off without missing a beat while dropping hits like “Seven Nation Army,” “Jump Around” and “Heads Will Roll.” But when the emcee came on the mic to chant and encourage, “Jump, jump, jump,” one might wonder why. The crowd was already chaotic in a massive blur of movement.
In a more tranquil setting of the Ultra Underground Stage, tucked away on a grassy knoll at the southeast end of the park strewn with hammocks and friendly, retro hippie-styled fans, the music of the Dusky duo penetrated the atmosphere. In an almost magical sense as the setting sun cast a soothing, golden glow over the space the crowd swayed and jammed out to the funky house beats, and then exploded their support on the pair’s hit finale “Careless.”
The Main Stage prepped for Afrojack, who would go on to debut some new music, as the presenter reminisced, “This is where it all began, March 15, 1999,” referencing the history of the first Ultra Music Festival held in Miami. Speaking of firsts, Example happily announced at the Live Stage that this was his first-ever festival in the US and he went on to play some of his energetic, synth-heavy hits like “Changed The Way You Kiss Me.”
Back-to-back artists Netsky and Chase & Status properly represented the drum ‘n’ bass during their moment to shine at the Live Stage, which was, well, obviously quite lively all day. Chase & Status razed the crowd with “Innocence” and Netsky wowed with tracks like “We Can Only Live Today” utilizing singer Billie on a few numbers.
It’s tough to decide where to be and which artists to choose as the big closeout moment of the final festival day. The result of the deciding factor becomes an endearing, significant memory that you take away with you almost like what you choose to do at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Thousands decided to be at the A State Of Trance Stage to witness the legendary Paul van Dyk at the decks. Following an unforgettable series of tracks like “Home” he ended his set with “Don’t Deserve You.” In a poignant moment, and a surprise to the crowd, he appeared from behind the decks, knelt at the stage edge and let his synth at his lap serenade the crowd.
In referencing the festival week closeout party Tiësto asked on Facebook, “Did you make it to the best party in the world this weekend?!” Hundreds of thousands can raise their hands high and blissfully respond, “Absolutely.”
Images by Dave Vitkus and Kathy Vitkus