Saturday’s bad weather was made up for by Sunday. With picturesque breezes and sunny skies, it was the kind of day Ultra’s promoters must dream about 362 days of the year. And fans took advantage of it, arriving early and staying late. From GAIA’s hooded performance in the Mega Structure to Gareth Emery’s string of anthems on the Ultra Worldwide Stage, it felt like the entire weekend was working towards a crescendo by Sunday night. Here are some of the highlights of the build-up.
-- He’s not a DJ but he’s friends with all of them. Matthew Koma was the unlisted star of Ultra 2014. The singer-songwriter’s otherworldly tenor was heard in tracks by Tiesto and Zedd and then live when Afrojack brought Koma on stage Sunday evening to sing their song “Illuminate.” Since he was in the neighborhood, he joined RAC at the UMF Radio stage later to sing their song “Cheap Sunglasses.” Koma may not have brought the excitement of, say, an appearance by Madonna, but he sure brought the pipes, and for that, the crowd expressed their appreciation kindly.
-- By 5:00pm, it takes a full 30 minutes to get to the front row of the Main Stage at Ultra from the adjacent Worldwide Stage, where MAKJ’s drops and stage presence were putting Skrillex to shame. Once you make the trek, the payoff is huge. “Huge,” as in you can see the faces of both Afrojack and Martin Garrix as they unite in a surprise guest appearance with Garrix. “Huge,” as in you can feel the full heat of the pyrotechnics during Steve Angello's triumphant return to Ultra for the first time after the break-up of Swedish House Mafia. What you miss in the ability to roam freely or see the entire stage is made up for in the knowledge that you’re experiencing sets from the biggest DJs in the world at the top of their game.
-- Sunday’s UMF Radio stage featured a who’s who of today’s melodic, soulful and sometimes deep house music. The scheduling of relative newcomer Moon Boots after the likes of Julio Bashmore might have seen as premature, but Boots threw down a set that was as energized as it was polished. The most radiant moment came when he slowed down the BPM considerably to play his own remix of CHVRCHES’ “The Mother We Share.” Some were singing along, some were basking in the glow of Lauren Mayberry’s voice, but everyone was tuned in to the same station.
-- While they did have their own set time (10:00pm on Stage 7), Los Angeles duo Posso’s real time to shine happened earlier in the day on the Live Stage, where they were responsible for the music in-between sets. Often this is a role that brings out the worst in DJs, but Posso confidently spun their brand of fun and funky melodic house without worrying that many in the audience were sitting down, awaiting the arrival of the next live act. But the fact that passersby were drawn to the stage’s amphitheater during Posso’s interludes is a testament to the art of DJing and their mastery of it.
Additional reporting by Allegra Hanlon