Ultra Music Festival 2017 is gone and behind us now, and as always, Miami’s annual flagship extravaganza, which marks the beginning of the global festival season, was a huge success. As we hit the one week mark and the dust from Bayfront Park finally begins to settle away, we’d like to take some time during our post-Ultra blues to highlight some of the biggest winners and losers from this year’s edition.
RESISTANCE (Megastructure Part 1)
If there is one thing that Ultra understands really well that many other festivals in the U.S do not, it is the recent emergence and growth in popularity of the underground scene. Yes, for years now Ultra has had Carl Cox & his Friends hold down the tech fort that is the Megastructure. However, like a tropical storm waiting to hit South Florida, something special had been brewing in the underground tech scene in recent years and Ultra had taken notice. While the Resistance brand was first introduced two years ago, UMF let develop before going all out in this year’s edition. Along with the return of the Arcadia Spider, Ultra switched gears and gave Resistance control of the Megastructure as well. Carl Cox continued his double-header headlining sets, but the whole thing felt more cohesive and demonstrated the power of the techno scene in today’s dance music.
Trance (Megastructure Part 2)
Everybody and their mother was cozying up to trance this year. Arty aka ALPHA9, Sander van Doorn pres. Purple Haze, and W&W pres. NWYR all premiered new alias performances at Ultra’s A State of Trance arena and the crowds loved it. It wasn’t just crowd appreciation for trance, but it was a return to form for these artists who had drifted so far from the music they started with. We’re not even counting Ferry Corsten’s Gouryella project which was also there, and the fact that Armin van Buuren premiered some new Gaia music. All in all, the megastructure totally won Ultra 2017.
Ultra had possibly its safest year yet, and after a very difficult year in 2015 that’s a huge accomplishment. Ultra had no deaths, 50% less arrests, and only 59 hospital visits for the festival of its size and scope. Compare that with HARD Summer or EDC Vegas. Miami PD blames education and growing maturity of the audience, but either way this is something to celebrate.
I bet you thought you would be a trendsetter at Ultra because you bought a pair of fancy new Snapchat Spectacles. Well you weren’t the only one, because Ultra actually had a vending machine on site. The result was that literally everybody was rocking the new shades and videoing everything. Now they still might be kind of a hassle, but they certainly hit the big time at Ultra this year.
Main Stage DJs
We know it’s said all the time, but the mainstage really felt tired this year. Countless artists that used to drum up huge hype and earn a festival closing set were on this year’s mainstage playing music completely out of their element, sounding like they had lost their way. How could so many talented DJs decide that Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina” was worth playing in 2017? Why were DJs like Alesso and Zedd playing so much trap? Very few high profile artists from the electro and big room eras were sticking their guns this year, and as a result many fans were left disappointed. Chances are if you liked these artists in 2012-2014, you were bored to tears by them in 2017. Some notable mentions here include Alesso, Dash Berlin, Major Lazer, Tiesto and Zedd.
If you thought this might be the year it didn’t rain at Ultra then you were sorely mistaken. In fact it rained for a significant time on both Friday and Saturday. This meant that you were either a soaked rat or you had to chuck your entire set schedule to seek shelter. However the silver lining here is that it might have forced you into the megastructure and changed your life forever (See Winners). The rain from Friday and Saturday left many of the grass covering panels full of mud and sludge. This was more apparent at the ASOT Megastructure than anywhere, and if you weren’t careful then you probably ended up tossing a pair of shoes after last weekend.
Ultra Rewards Points
In 2016 Ultra Music Festival launched an exciting new Passport program to reward loyal fans with special perks. The best part is that you got points for buying a ticket to the festival and connecting to the Ultra Wi-fi network. Only problem is, the Wifi didn’t work at all and you probably couldn’t connect to it. As a result you probably never got those points, and you might not get another chance until your next Ultra Music Festival. Luckily, Ultra apparently has some plans to remedy this problem.
A few years ago it was a common expectation that at the festival you would lose calls, text messaging and web connectivity. However in recent years this problem has been greatly reduced to where people began expecting connectivity at the festivals again. Ultra brought everybody right back to the good ol days, where texts bounced and Wi-Fi wouldn’t connect. The result was minimal Snapchat uploads with those fancy Spectacles, and a return to the classic meet-up strategy of “meet at the mainstage” (facepalm).