Before most fans had even arrived at downtown Miami’s Bayside Park yesterday for the second day of Ultra Music Festival on March 29, a tragic and unnecessary injury had already occurred. The literal stampeding over security guard Erica Mack was the result of insufficient barriers around the grounds and a select group of fans who upended the otherwise positive spirit of the event with aggressive and dangerous behavior.
Still, the show goes on. And while Ms. Mack recovers in the hospital, the music and the well-behaved majority of fans were more encumbered by Saturday’s weather than anything else. Although a certain mugginess and stifling humidity hung over the Park all day, it didn’t faze fans in the least as they hovered mostly near the Main Stage as soon as the doors opened. By the time the skies opened around 9:00pm, shuttering all but three stages, both DJs and fans made it clear that the true heroes of the day were the ravers who understood how to act as members of community.
Martin Garrix made his highly-touted Main Stage arrival on Saturday afternoon. But he went from boy wonder to EDM iconoclast when Deadmau5 used McMaNGOS’ reworked Garrix hit “Animals” featuring nursery rhyme “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” Thanks to Ultra’s live stream, some on the internet instantly accused Deadmau5 – a last-minute replacement for Avicii who cancelled due to illness – of “trolling” Garrix. If anything it was a gesture of recognition that Ultra’s young audience was receptive to hearing literally anything (including a nursery rhyme) from the Main Stage and Deadmau5 was more than happy to give it to them.
–Before the rain, Paul Kalkbrenner delivered an abbreviated version of his typical three-hour set on the Live Stage. While Kalkbrenner’s typical crowd is full of dance scene hipsters and technophiles, he drew a sizable contingent of raver bros and girls who were hearing his driving bass-heavy tech sound — all performed live and electronically — for the first time, affirming the belief that festivals really do expose fans to new kinds of music.
–The Yousaf sisters of Krewella dropped a tear-jerking remix of John Legend’s “All Of Me” alongside their new song with Gareth Emery, “Lights & Thunder” — an appropriate tune for what was about to happen. As one of only two Main Stage acts on Saturday to feature women (another sister team, Rebecca & Fiona, played earlier), Krewella became the defacto voice of the crowd’s many female fans if only for an hour.
–At the end of their set Dutch duo W & W pointed out the incredible variety of international flags, united to listen to the music no matter the circumstances. Just as soldiers do not give up in times of war, EDM fans do not give up the music they love in times of rain. Despite the torrential downpours, fans stayed until the bitter end of Armin van Buuren’s set to cry along to “This Is What It Feels Like,” his Grammy-nominated single from 2013, letting the raindrops and tears fall together.
–Playing one of the few stages not turned off on account of lightening and rain has its advantages. For underground techno DJ Loco Dice, it became a star-making moment as the Mega Structure stage, curated by Carl Cox on Saturday, filled in with fans seeking refuge under its cover during the deluge. Those who had never heard Dice, a typical mainstay in afterhours clubs during Miami Music Week, were pleasantly surprised and instantly converted by his aggressive and melodic set that was as musically distinct from the radio-friendly jams of the Main Stage as it was physically far away.
Additional reporting by Allegra Hanlon