Ultra Music Festival Weekend 2, Day 2: 10 Things Seen and Heard
Mother Nature has been less than kind to Miami's festival-goers this weekend, dousing the city Friday (March 22) and delivering scorching temps on Saturday (March 23). Even the shaded stages -- the Carl Cox and UMF Worldwide -- felt dangerously hot at times. Water vendors were out in full force, with fans eagerly grabbing handfuls of ice from the roving carts. Those seeking refuge in the air-conditioned Heineken House were quickly ushered out after buying their beers. Suddenly those furry, knee-high boots and homemade Deadmau5 heads didn't seem like such good ideas after all.
But Saturday ended up seeing some of the best performances of UMF's two weekends thus far, capturing the growing diversity of popular dance music and its new fans' evolving tastes.
1. Disclosure "Latches" On: Brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence had a No. 2 hit in the U.K. pop charts with "White Noise" and are fronting a revival in what the Brits call "garage" and Americans first birthed as house -- despite being just 18 and 20 years old. But would their sparse R&B vocals translate at Ultra, where fist-pumping, bass drops and higher BPMs are the order of the days? The answer at their late afternoon Live Stage was a soulfully crooned "yes." A solid crowd of beaming ravers sung along to "Noise" and properly twirled and grooved to the rest of the brothers’ set, which saw them triggering handclaps and other sounds, and using drum pads and crash cymbals. When they dropped their own "Latch," the crowd went wild from the first bass drum and sung along with each in-love lyric. It was a beautiful thing.
2. Prydz Goes Hard: There aren't many DJs that can command multiple timeslots at a single festival, but after rocking the Main Stage on day one of Ultra, Eric Prydz brought out his alter ego Cirez D on day two. Unlike his first performance, which consisted of his more well-known selections, Cirez D took those gathered in the UMF Megastructure on a dark, two-hour musical journey. It would be impossible to list all of the tracks he played -- mainly because most of them are unreleased and/or untitled -- but it's fair to say that the sizeable crowd in the enormous tent got to see a show unlike many others. Even as things were coming to a close, Prydz continued to make fists pump and feet move to his unique blend of house music that has made him into the DJ and producer he is today.
3. Fatboy Shows 'Em How It's Done: Fatboy Slim proved once again why he is one of the world's best DJs when he delivered an incredible set on day two of Ultra Music Festival. He instantly commanded the crowd's attention when he sampled Baauer's "Harlem Shake" just after taking the decks, setting the tone for an eclectic mix of mashups, bootlegs, and Fatboy Slim originals. His classic "Right Here, Right Now" song made an appearance about halfway through the set, but it was Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" acapella that had the massive Main Stage crowd crooning. He ended things on a high note by closing with another classic, "Praise You," that capped off an amazing hour set that could only have been concocted by a DJ who has been in the game longer than some of the other DJs playing at the festival have been alive.
4. Calvin Harris's Hit Parade: Before he was a DJ, Calvin Harris was a pop star -- and those who stayed at the Main Stage after Fatboy Slim's set were reminded just how many hits he's had over the years. Songs like "Feel So Close" and "Sweet Nothing" had everyone in the enormous crowd singing in unison, and served as gentle reprieves for a set that also had its fair share of hard-hitting selections. Interestingly, Calvin also included a few of classic tracks, including "You Used To Hold Me" and his own "Flashback." He left the crowd wanting more after closing his set with his Ellie Goulding collaboration, "I Need Your Love," (the two are reportedly dating) and thanking all with his Scottish accent.
5. Kill The Fresh Prince: With his set in the UMF Worldwide tent (renamed the "Dropzone" on Saturday), Kill The Noise showcased his range as a DJ and proved that there’s more to his sound than just dubstep. He flitted among tempos and genres quickly; a heavy remix of Zedd’s "Clarity," for example, felt just as natural in the set as Knife Party’s "Internet Friends." Kill The Noise also played his irresistible bootleg of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s" theme song, which is frequently misattributed to Skrillex. Even though the performance took place in neither Philadelphia nor Bel Air, fans still loved the throwback factor and happily sang along.
6. Diplo Flosses Dillon: Surprise set alert! For his headlining turn on the Trapped Stage, Dillon Francis turned the performance into a one-of-a-kind event, spinning back-to-back with Diplo and even bringing Flosstradamus back onstage to join in the rowdy fun. The foursome represents some of the most influential artists in the scene today, and fans knew they were part of an "only at Ultra" experience.
MORE ULTRA: Weekend 1 Highlights
7. Deadmau5 Presses Play: Deadmau5 headlined the Main Stage on Saturday night again and, not only was Zedd noticeably absent this time around, the masked musician played the exact same set as last week's. Yawn.
8. Slash to Make Her Dance: Ultra always sees its big-name drop-bys and semi-random collaborations, but this one was especially wild. Guitar rock god Slash joined party-rocking Dutch DJ/producer Chuckie during his Main Stage set, hopping up on the booth to wail a guitar solo. The pair are apparently planning to release a track together with L.A.-based producer Betamaxx, who introduced the pair through Slash’s wife. After the set, Slash chilled with Chuckie and nouveau rock god Skrillex backstage. Now that’s a collab we’d like to see.
9. Krewella Will Be Huge This Year: What does a radio hit get you these days? How about one of the most teaming tents at Ultra. With "Alive" climbing the Top 40 chart, Krewella took to the Drop Zone Saturday afternoon to a crowd so huge that it spilled over the sides and combined with the neighboring Porta Potty lines (quite the distinction). While DJ/producer Rain Man was stuck behind the booth, Sisters Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf did their spin-and-sing move, which consisted of them running back and forth from behind the decks to hype the crowd and belt the six tracks off their first and only EP, "Play Hard," which the crowd knew by heart. The EP was originally self-released but then picked up by Columbia Records. It's official: Krewella are dubstep-rock-pop-radio stars.
10. Baauer Mashes It Up:Baauer had a lot to prove at UMF for this was his biggest performance since "Harlem Shake" took over the Internet. Playing on the Trapped stage, the young DJ/producer delivered a set of trap and unadulterated hip-hop in the mashup style of the late great DJ AM: Quick mixes, with no more than a minute on each track. It takes a lot of skill to maximize every recognizable snippet of song and blend them in a way that makes each one a moment, rather than one part of a megamix. Baauer is not quite there yet, but his attempt was noble, and no one in the crowd seemed to care. They appreciated the trap, like his own mix of Flosstradamus’s "Rollup," and the hip-hop, like Drake featuring Lil Wayne's "HYFR," equally. And when has hip-hop ever had a true place amongst the children of dance, and vice versa? Convergence, thy name is Baauer.