A Fabulous Miami Music Week and An Impressive 20th Anniversary for ULTRA


Every year hundreds of thousands of music lovers from all over the world flock to Miami for the famous Miami Music Week and Ultra Music Festival. This year was Ultra’s 20th anniversary, and like a fine wine, the festival has only gotten better with age. To complement this beautiful and bold festival Miami was turned into a nonstop party from March 20-March 25. There was a party for every type of music enthusiast and DiskoLab made sure this year was more spectacular than any before it.

Miami Music Week Parties:

Thomas Jack & Claptone Beach Party:

I kicked off my week at the 1 Hotel in South Beach for a groovy house music beach party. Australian tropical house master, Thomas Jack teamed up with masked techno legend Claptone to bring some serious magic to South Beach strip. The event space was perfectly decorated for the music, palm leaves were woven through the stage to create the tropical vibe that fits Thomas Jack. There was plenty of space to move and space in the back to relax and lounge on day beds.  The party started early and went well into the night, allowing guests to dance in the sunshine, get down while the sun goes down, and party into the night.

Spinnin Hotel, Robin Schulz & Friends Pool Party:

Spinnin Records transformed The Nautilus Hotel into an incredible pool party wonderland for their Spinnin Hotel series. During each day of Miami Music Week, the hotel hosted a unique and curated party that included a massive pool, day beds with bottle service, a beautiful stage, and noteworthy lights and decorations. On Thursday guest got to enjoy a special party hosted by Robin Schulz and friends, including Shaun Frank, Autograf, Clement Leroux, The Him, Justin Caruso, and Goldroom. The sets seamlessly blended into one another, allowing no lulls in the festivities.

Spinnin Hotel, Heartfeldt Pool Party:

Sam Feldt brought Miami the heat with his own showcase at the Nautilus on Friday. He was joined by some of his friends SNBRN, Hook N Sling, Jay Hardway, and Goldfish for an incredible party that I didn’t want to leave. What could be better than enjoying a couple drink and the good vibes of Sam Feldt at a pool party in Miami? Honestly not much. But I had to reluctantly tear myself from the dance floor and head to the first day of Ultra.

Spinnin Hotel, Sander Van Doorne Pool Party:

Saturday was another great day for the Spinnin Hotel series with Sander Van Doorne bringing his popular showcase to the scene. He brought along with him some up and comers like Madison Mars, BLR, and Maurice West, as well as some established artist like Loud LuxuryZonderling, and David Tort. 

Firebeatz Presents Ignite Label Recordings Label Night:

I hadn’t seen Jay Hardway or Madison Mars before the Spinnin Hotel parties but I really feel in love with both of their styles and energy, so when I saw that they were on line up for this event I jumped at the chance to see them again. The rest of the lineup was amazing too with ADSR, Fvego, and of course Firebeatz. The best part about this event was that it was atop the W Hotel at the rooftop pool and lounge. Huge glass walls kept the wind away from guest while allowing them to look out over Miami, taking in the view from 50 stories high.

 

ULTRA Music Festival:

There are a couple of things I’m sure of when it comes to Ultra. 1: The lineup will be mouthwatering, it is so perfectly crafted that it’s almost an issue cause there is always someone you want to see. 2: The stages will melt your mind, they are so expertly crafted it’s honestly a piece of art. 3. There will be some unforgettable special guests and surprises.

Miami is always buzzing with excitement on the opening day of Ultra. You can hear people greeting each other with “Happy Ultra Day” as if it was Christmas. And it makes sense that people treat it as a holiday since it’s such a monumental occasion and everyone is talking about it. For the fifth year in a row Ultra Music Festival was the #1 trending topic on social media platforms worldwide over the weekend. And for those music lovers who couldn’t, there was still the Ultra live stream, which attracted over 30,000,000 views.

ULTRA Highlights:

Ultra’s 20th anniversary was blessed with perfect weather. Refreshing breezes coming off the water kept festivalgoers cool while they danced under the Miami heat. Usually, there is at least one day where it downpours for a good portion of the day. This weekend did not have that. Ultra was comprised of good weather, great food, and fantastic music.

I love checking out the food and merchandise vendors that a festival has to offer. And I am not exaggerating when I say, I had the best Açai bowl of my life at Ultra. I was really impressed with the selection they had and the prices were better than most festivals which surprised me. Also, this year Ultra had expanded their options by adding some of Miami’s finest food trucks into the mix. The significance of Ultra’s 20th anniversary made this year a great year to buy some merch. And walking through the airconditioned building that the merch is sold makes it even more enticing to wander through.

Friday:

Some of my favorite sets on Friday were Hardwell, Rezz, Virtual Self, and Carl Cox. I entered the festival kind of late on Friday, so I got in in time to catch Hardwell who was putting on an impressive performance. Without fail, if Rezz is in the lineup I’ll be there. She has been having an incredible year playing all the big festivals and recently opening up for Bassnectar at Spring Gathering in Chicago. Rezz represented for female DJ’s, as one of only a handful of women in this year’s Ultra lineup. She’s got her own unique style that’s a mix of heavy dubstep and dark and dirty techno beats, when paired with her visuals and signature LED goggles she has the audience hypnotized for the hour. Porter Robinson’s alias, Virtual Self, closed out the live stage on Friday. His style of late 90’s and early 2000’s inspired dance music was paired perfectly with his early internet aesthetic and signature amine visuals. Towards the end of the night, I headed over to see Carl Cox at The Megastructure. Cox is a staple for Ultra Miami, he closes The Megastructure not once but twice. I caught his Friday set, which was a masterpiece that only the famous Carl Cox could produce. With the addition of the large circular light fixtures in the middle creating a vortex to captivate guests, the newly renovated Megastructure was exceptionally impressive.

Saturday:

Saturday’s are always the busiest day at Ultra, so extra long entry lines and maneuvering through huge crowds to get from stage to stage was expected. But as they say, “the more the merrier!”. On Saturday there were a couple special guest appearances like Halsey dropping in during her boyfriend G-Eazy‘s set to help him with their hit song “Him and I”. Unfortunately, this ruined the surprise when The Chainsmokers brought her out to sing “Closer”.  At the main stage, Marshmello took a break from his candy-colored visuals and matching bubbly sound to bring out Will Smith to sing “Miami” to a crowd of starstruck fans. I enjoyed just walking around and spending 30 minutes here and there exploring the festival grounds and different genres of music. I wandered to the Arcadia Spider stage for a bit and danced under the belly of the beast while listening to a live set by Stephan Bodzin. The whistle of the perfectly timed pyrotechnics added another layer both visually and acoustically to the experience. I enthusiastically dragged my friends back to the live stage to end the night with Tchami x Malaa for their No Redemption tour set. I am a huge fan of both so to see them team up was pure perfection for me. Each stood on their own LED box that lights up with their visuals depending on who was controlling the decks. They drew in one of the biggest crowds I’ve seen at the live stage and rightful so because these two are house gods. Playing dark and brooding beats one minute then switch it up for some dance-floor gold.

Sunday:

I headed to Bayfront Park earlier on Sunday to take in as much of the festival as I could and to catch Andrew Rayel. I sat down earlier in the week to interview him on about his new label and all the exciting projects he has coming up. He played at The Megastructure which was the perfect location for the Moldovan trance and big room DJ to showcase his impressive sound. Check out my interview with Andrew below to hear about everything this rising star has to offer the trance scene. Later in the evening, I danced to banger after banger at the Worldwide stage as What So Not played a well crafted set that transitioned well into GTA‘s bass-heavy party. The duo are Miami locals, so they gave some extra love during their hometown performance. I headed over to The Megastructure around 10:30 for a group therapy session with the masters of feels Above & Beyond. Their unconventional method of communicating with the audience via typing and having it show up on the screen behind them always adds another dimension of depth to the performance. After a five year hiatus, the legends of Swedish House Mafia united to close out Ultra’s 20th Anniversary festivities. This once in a lifetime performance was intended to be a surprise but the internet had been buzzing with gossip about the group’s return for months. Regardless of the surprise being ruined for most, it was still an incredibly special moment for both SHM and Ultra’s attendees and a monumental way to close Ultra’s 20th anniversary.



FestPop Staff Writer, Azita Lotfi

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