[Ultra Edition] Off the Beaten Path: 10 Must-See Acts Not on the Main Stage

In under two weeks, the dance music scene will descend onto Miami for Ultra Music Festival and officially open the floodgates for festival season around the world. The vast array of acts that are present at festivals, and Ultra specifically, always begs the question: who will you see and who you will sacrifice not seeing? This age old festival conundrum is especially relevant at Ultra, a festival that features an overly abundant amount of dance music DJs and electronic acts.  And so, it’s time to for us here at EDMTunes to bring you our own list of acts that we think will not only maximize your experience, but also diversify it by getting you away from the main stage here and there. Remember, the main stage isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s not going anywhere at any of the big festivals! The fact is, main stages in the U.S are reasonably homogenous over the primary dance music festivals. The real gems come out on the side stages, where powerhouse DJs and Ibiza mainstays ply their well-honed crafts. While everyone is going to want to venture to the massive main stage at some point (and most likely for long stretches of time), spending some time on the outskirts is a must. And that’s exactly what you’ll find on this list. Listen, we don’t need to tell you to see people on the main stage, you’re going to (and should) do that anyways.  Instead, this collection is a guideline for acts you may want to catch off the beaten path, and at Ultra, those off the beaten path are still world-renowned DJs or performers. Alternatively, be sure to go over the below info graphic as well: it is a list of all first time performers at Ultra. Featuring young guns and exploding talent left and right, it’s a pretty great little list to keep around as you wander the grounds.

10. Pete Tong
Catching Pete Tong is a must for a few reasons, the primary one being is that he is THE curator of dance music in our generation. If you happen to be a regular listener of his Essential Selection radio show, or have caught him at a club recently, then you know the man has the ability to spin every genre under the sun. He’s been doing this longer than a large percentage of the dance music demographic has even been alive, and as one would expect, he is exceptionally good at it. If you want to hear what will most likely be a collection of what’s hot in dance music, then an hour of Pete Tong is a great way to do that.  You can catch him on the Carl Cox Stage Saturday afternoon. You can listen to his latest Essential Selection here.

9. Henry Fong
Henry Fong is currently in the midst of one of those meteoric rises through the industry. Already commanding tangible and consistent support and praise from Spinnin and OWSLA, -two of the biggest players in big room progressive/ electro and dubstep spectrum- Fong’s eclectic yet always high energy sets  pull from a plethora of genres that will keep any fan of dance music entertained. The L.A producer plays fairly early on Saturday, and if you need a jump start to your Ultra afternoon, this set should suit you perfectly.

8. Mat Zo
The Anjunabeats all star is debuting at Ultra this year and it should be one hell of a set. Coming off a year in which he released one of the finest dance music album’s around in Damage Control, Ultra will be the perfect spot for Matan Zohar to unleash his 2014 plans upon us.

7. The Martinez Brothers
Bronx-born brothers Chris and Steve Jr Martinez dominated the world club circuit in 2013, playing a mind numbing number of shows across the globe. Of course, if they didn’t have the talent, they wouldn’t have been able to keep up such a schedule and that’s just it: the pair are now regarded as some of the hottest and most influential Disc Jockeys in the game. Pumping through hip-hop infused tech house, techno, and at times even deeper vibes, at torrid paces, the Martinez Brothers know how to keep a party going, and their Ultra Set will do just that. While their set time may be cutting it close with our #8 selection, Mat Zo, it will most definitely behoove you to attempt to catch them.

6. Dusky
A definite schedule conundrum comes into play when taking into account Mat Zo and the Martinez Brothers/ Dusky, but we figured the style of music is different enough that no one would grumble if we mentioned them all. And of course, how can one be upset with the mention of Dusky, another powerhouse duo that made huge waves in 2013 via Anjunadeep 05 and their Careless EP. Their melodic, new age deep house grooves are in high demand not just overseas, but in the U.S as well – a theme that will only grow as the festival season continues.

5. Dillon Francis
Hey, this list isn’t going to be all house music, and what better way to diversify than bringing up one of the most outspoken and beloved U.S DJs in the game today? Dillon Francis sets are always fun, regardless of if you’re a fan of his moombahton enwrapped, trap heavy vibe. Ultra is the perfect time for Dillon to perhaps unveil a few new tracks off of his upcoming album, and as always, potentially do something crazy on stage! The main reason we put Dillon on this list is because he is going up against the wheelhouse of the main stage Saturday night, which is no easy feat considering the giants playing there that night.  Not just anyone can sit at that slot. In fact, Dillon Francis, being a festival headliner himself, is one of only a handful of acts that can swing at the mighty Above & Beyond or Armin Van Buuren. If those two are not your cup of tea, we can comfortably guarantee that you will not be upset finishing out your Saturday with a dose of Dillon Francis.

4. Audien
Audien’s progressive/ nu-trance vibes will hit Ultra for the first time in two weeks, and we couldn’t be more excited for him. The Anjunabeats youngster has seen steady growth in all areas, from production to popularity, and he knows the importance of the Ultra set with regards to setting oneself up for a successful 2014. Rest assured, he will ply his trade with a sense of urgency, energy, and pure euphoria. He plays at a fairly early time on Saturday, and it should be relatively FOMO free to catch what will definitely be one of the better sets of the weekend.

3.  Jamie Jones
Paradise. Hot Natured. Hot Creations. Party host, well known side-project, record label. Jamie Jones has it going on all cylinders at the moment. If you’re not going to be catching Resident Advisor’s #9 DJ of 2013 at his Paradise Party alongside the legendary Seth Troxler earlier in the week, then you are implored to see him at Ultra on Friday. It’s really as simple as that. The man is one of the most in demand producers and DJs in the world at the moment and it’s guaranteed he will bring it all whilst closing out the Underground Story stage on Friday night.

2. Andrew Rayel
The list just got a little bit trancy. Andrew Rayel has yet to hit U.S shores, and what a treat it is for Ultra attendees to be witness the Armada superstar perform on American soil for the first time. Rest assured, Rayel will come out with all guns blazing in Miami.  Andrew’s set appears is early in the day Sunday; a time that lends itself to exploring a bit, and for that reason you should have no problem catching the Armada prince in action. 

1. Tale Of Us
It may come as a surprise to many of our readers to see Tale Of Us as the #1 here (many of you may even be saying, “who?”). Well, it’s time to get acquainted with one of the most prolific and well respected duos on the circuit and Resident Advisor’s #2 DJs in 2013. With a slew of originals and remixes in the past twelve months, accompanied by multiple Ibiza residencies (Circoloco and ENTER), Tale Of Us comes onto American soil as one of the most desired acts out there, and one would be silly to miss their melodic techno soundscape do its thing on Saturday night.

Well, that wraps up our Top 10 Off the Beaten Path acts for Ultra. Of course, this list could have been vastly different since the sheer number of high quality acts at Ultra is staggering, and nearly impossible to fit into just ten. Let us know who you think should be on the list, or who you will be checking out at this year’s rendition.