Avicii, Afrojack, a hint of Daft Punk, and more from Friday.
Ultra attendees faced less-than-stellar weather as Weekend 2 kicked off, but no amount of rain could put a damper on fans' excitement. Despite the late afternoon downpour and heaps of humidity, crowds cheered as they entered the gates, waited for drinks, passed from stage to stage… and so on.
1. Pure Techno: The Carl Cox Tent was scheduled perfectly on Friday, with a lineup that featured only five DJs over the eight-hour day. Yousef, Umek, Adam Beyer, Luciano and Cox himself were each able to stretch out and play their music the way they're meant to be heard: as long journeys through their respective discographies, rather than abbreviated sets.
2. Trees Need Love Too: The top fan-made placard of Day 1 was a not-so-subtle homage to Ultra 2012's most viral video. A 20-something wandered around the area surrounding the UMF Worldwide and Carl Cox tents waving a sign that read, “Hump Me, I'm A Tree,” a reference to a clip posted last year featuring a girl apparently fighting and then making up with one of Bayfront Park's wooden residents.
3. Double Bookings: Strangely enough, both Cazzette and Afrojack played twice on Friday. The former started off with an hour-long set in the UMF Worldwide tent, followed by a bizarrely short 20-minute warm up for Avicii on the Main Stage. Afrojack also divided his time, throwing down an high-energy closing set at UMF Worldwide but also performing under his given name (Nick van de Wall) at his own Jacked stage earlier in the day.
4. Speaking of Avicii: Having garnered attention for all the wrong reasons at UMF 2012 (Madonna and Molly, anyone?), Avicii had much to prove with this year's turn on the Main Stage. The Swede delivered by bringing the unexpected, reestablishing himself as a producer with multiple “levels.” His performance was split in two: first, he played a fairly standard, hit-packed set, followed by a preview of his forthcoming album. Since Avicii has previously hinted that his album would feature live instrumentation and unique vocals, so too did the second half of his Main Stage set. He brought out “I Need A Dollar” singer Aloe Blacc, as well as a country-esque band for a bluegrass-meets-EDM fusion. The performance reignited our excitement about the artist and heightened the excitement for his debut LP.
5. Play It Again, Bro: Since most artists on Ultra's Weekend 2 roster also played the same fest just a week ago, it's only natural that many would take their sets in a different direction this time around. Some DJs, however, surprised and impressed with their range. Kaskade and Eric Prydz were two such artists, with the former bringing an aggressive edge—bordering on hardstyle at points—to his UMF Worldwide set, and the latter playing a wide-ranging Main Stage show. Prydz managed to throw a good deal of material from his techy pseudonym Cirez D into the otherwise house-oriented mix.
MORE ULTRA: Weekend 1 Highlights
6. Wasabi Trance: While the party raged downtown, Armin Van Buuren – who headlined the Main Stage last Sunday, and will play in his own branded A State of Trance tent at Ultra this Sunday -- celebrated the U.S. launch of his Amsterdam-based Armada super-label with a private sushi dinner at SLS Hotel's Katsuya. The chef made him a special, giant-sized spicy roll dubbed “Intense,” after his upcoming album. Armada North America's first project is Audien's “Leaving You,” which has “potential radio hit” written all over it.
7. Rave Reporters: A box of press passes were stolen so press security got extra tight at the press yacht (yes, this year's lounge is on a boat). Press had to check in outside, as well as sign in prior to boarding.
8. Turn on Your Face Light: The Bloody Beetroots played for a crowd that doubled over the course of their late-night Live Stage set. A Ron Burgundy-approved "rage classy, Miami" sign was seen traveling around the growing throng, a good fit for Beetroots mastermind and proper gentleman Bob Cornelius Rifo, who sported his signature black Venom mask with glowing eyes.
9. Secret Steve: Steve Angello played a Myspace Secret Show at the Miami Museum of Art, just a few blocks from Ultra in downtown Miami. The unofficial launch of the Swedish House Mafia don's solo career featured acts from his Size label like Third Party and Junior Sanchez, and his new sponsor MiO energy drink. In addition to the usual bar blends, non-alcoholic MiO cocktails were also served, including one by Angello dubbed the Thunder Sun Mix, or MiO's citrusy Green Thunder flavor with lemonade. The museum made a unique setting for a DJ show, and the small but enthusiastic crowd reveled in the secretness of it all.
10. Daft Punk'd: Last Sunday, a well-placed Daft Punk billboard caught the attention of crowds arriving at Ultra; yesterday, fans were subjected to another tease by the French house legends. A video of the group's 15-second Saturday Night Live commercial ran on a loop, projected onto a building that immediately faced fans as they left the festival.