Recap: Ultra Music Festival – Weekend 2, Day 3 [Gallery]

Ultranauts at UMF15

The final day of the Ultra Music Festival 2013 was a harsh reality and fans were arriving early and were pumped to make it an ultimate last day. Arriving at the festival grounds before the crowds poured in and scoping out the place and vast space it was difficult to envision hosting (squeezing) the tens of thousands of people that will fill every inch of this space within the next few hours. It was so peaceful and surreal for a while.

A definite buzz for the this final day of UMF was surrounding Armin van Buuren’s A State Of Trance 600 in the Mega Structure which hosted hot commodities like W&W, Cosmic Gate and Paul van Dyk. In the ASOT arena van Buuren was projected on the backdrop introducing the big event and then the countdown began. It may have been more appropriate and more intense to actually have the crowd be ready and waiting when Tritonal took to the stage but the festival gates opened at noon, and the ASOT fans hadn’t made it in and made their way to the Mega Structure before Tritonal’s set began. It was an entertaining and impressive spectacle to witness the scores of fans come running into the wide-open tent to capture a coveted viewing spot knowing exactly where they wanted to be this day. Eventually this tightly knit crowd would grow to epic proportions flowing into the adjacent Korea Tent not knowing where one crowd ended and one began. With no more space in the Mega Structure crowds packed onto the passage ramp to view the event making the walkway impassable and causing security to step in for crowd control.

Blue skies for Nervo

On the Main Stage progressive electro-house sisters Nervo joined Sultan & Ned Shepard on the decks for the end of their set and shared congenial embraces and joined in singing. It makes sense since their collaborative single “Army” was just released last month. The bass was cranked to maximum capacity for the duration of the female duo’s set as they blasted hits like “We’re All No One.” When they played their current chart buster collaboration with Nicky Romero “Home” and offered the crowd a singing moment during the chorus it went on a bit longer than expected. Nervo looked puzzled and the crowd came to the realization that the sound was cut, but they went right on singing and didn’t skip a beat. Nervo stepped to the mic and cheered, “Miami, that’s why we love you.”

Nervo at UMF

One of the more miscalculated stages was the Live Stage that perhaps next year will need a more ample venue location. Veteran DJ Fresh, formally of Bad Company, hosted an entourage on stage, on the side stage and in the crowd with his pumping inspiration of drum ‘n’ bass. He kept the crowd hyped and on their feet, in the aisles, on the chairs, on the lawn and overflowing into the main walkways with chants like, “We got the power. Let’s get this party started.” That was no problem as the crowd went ballistic when Diplo joined Fresh and company on stage. Fresh played a mix of “Seven Nation Army” and then encouraged crowd participation by instructing them to hold their hands high forward for kick and back for snare. Given their undivided attention he was excited to also announce this was his first show in America.

Bingo Players

The Italian trio Forza electrified dancing fans in the ample valley-like, grassy dancefloor with their pulsing style of progressive house. Hosted at Mark Knight’s Toolroom Knights Stage tucked away at the deadend of a main path it was gem to find and it wins points for creativity. It continuously displayed a computer generated boom box image on the stage-flanked display screens with pumping woofers in time to the music beats.

Relative newcomer but already skyrocketing success story, Zedd played the Korea Stage opening with a subtle repeat of, “Breathing you in,” from his blockbuster hit “Spectrum” and even managed a little “Gangnam Style” sampling while friend and supporter Skrillex watched proudly from the wings.

Porter Robinson

Meanwhile Thomas Gold was wrapping up his Main Stage set with the popular Mikkas remix of the Emma Hewitt track “Rewind” as the dancing crowd was engulfed in a sea of dust. He played on with an impressive rendition of “Apologize” by OneRepublic mashed up with Otto Knows “Million Voices.”

Bingo Players displayed a baseball cap with the name of their record label but equally fitting, it’s a single, simple word that described the day, “Hysteria.”

Back at ASOT Above & Beyond mesmerized the crowd with the Miami appropriate “See The Sun” from Matt Darey Urban Astronauts and their own “Alchemy” and “Sun & Moon” from Group Therapy. Later, the man of the hour at ASOT, Mr. Armin van Buuren, began with a modest remix of today’s hit “Clarity” from Zedd and went on with stunning hit after hit like the vintage “Sound Of Goodbye.”


Major Lazer, again featuring Diplo onstage with his expected antics, pulled hordes of willing females into the front and center spotlight to dance during his affectionately titled track “Bubble Butt.” And once again, it seemed featured artists at the Live Stage could use a bigger hosting area. The same could be said for follow-up classic Snoop Dogg who alone accommodated about 100 of his closest friends stage side and thousands more in the over-packed crowd.

For many it was the ultimate closing in more ways than one witnessing the artists who posted the following on their Facebook page, “Nervous. No words to describe it. No limit to the memories. No way to say thank you enough. Ultra…here we come. One Last Tour…for One Last Time.” For many fans leaving the festival on this last day it was a similar sentiment and melancholic euphoria as to these words from Swedish House Mafia.

If it’s any consolation with each passing day we’re one day closer to the next Ultra and we can appreciate one fan’s optimistic Facebook comment, “I’m ready for ultra 2014 already!!!!!”

Images by Kathy Vitkus

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Contest Alert! Win Tickets to Ultra Music Festival


Ultra Music Festival 2013, taking place March 15-17, 2013 and March 22-24, 2013 at Bayfront Amphitheater in Downtown Miami, is celebrating its 15th anniversary the only way it knows how — by once again booking some of the world’s best DJ and electronic talent to perform at its world-famous event.

We’re giving away a precious pair of tickets to weekend one to a lucky Big Shot reader courtesy of our friends at UMF. The jaw-dropping bill includes a lineup of stellar international DJ talent: Swedish House Mafia, Armin van Buuren, Paul van Dyk, Yeasayer, Eric Prydz, Infected Mushroom, Avicii, Boys Noize, Martin Solveig, Ferry Corsten, Kaskade, Fedde Le Grand, Rusko, Booka Shade, Bassnectar, Above & Beyond, Sub Focus, Major Lazer, Pretty Lights, Wolfgang Gartner, The Weeknd, Porter Robinson and many more.

Excited? You should be!

To enter the contest tweet the following:

I want to win @ultramusic tickets for #UMF weekend 1 from @bigshotmagazine

Remember: you only need to tweet the above sentence once in order to enter the contest. Good luck!

The Rules:

• Entrants must be following @bigshotmagazine and @ultramusic
• Winner must be 21 or over
• Winner is responsible for transportation to/from UMF 2013
• Anyone found using multiple accounts to enter will be ineligible
• Contest ends at 12:00 pm EST on March 8, 2013

Like Big Shot on Facebook. Follow us on Instagram @bigshotmagazine.

And the winner is…

Congratulations to @AliDegan! Big thanks to everyone who entered.


Live Review: Virgin FreeFest 2012 at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD

Marjorie Merriweather Post — heir to the Post Cereal Company and the General Foods Corporation, collector of extravagantly fine possessions, devout Socialite, and committed philanthropist — had a vision to create a theater for the arts to house Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra. In 1967, in a serene, intimate setting, on 40 preserved acres known as Symphony Woods in Columbia, Maryland, Merriweather Post Pavilion was born in Ms. Post’s namesake. While not limited to the orchestra, the Merriweather Post Pavilion has housed an eclectic mix of performers for decades from Led Zeppelin to Avicii.

Another who shares Ms. Post’s passion for both musical outlets and committed philanthropy is Richard Branson, who brought his vision to life this past weekend at the Merriweather Post Pavilion with his 6th annual Virgin Mobile FreeFest. Sir Richard stepped in and once again the charitable contribution was the gift of music. The FreeFest initiative is a way of giving back in these tough economic times and to raise awareness of homeless youth. In the form of a too-good-to-be-true free festival their unofficial motto is, “We’ll take care of the tickets. You take care of the karma.” It seems to be working because at least in the last three years along with tens of thousands of hours of volunteer time, they’ve also raised nearly $600,000 for their cause.

There was an abundance of good karma and camaraderie bringing this melting pot of music fans together ranging from the rockabilly fans of Alabama Shakes to dubstep fans of Skrillex. And all the while that is going on there is something about this event that is endearingly sentimental. Maybe it’s a reflection of the end of summer on this blue-sky fall day. Maybe it’s the warmth of song lyrics like, “Love and love and nothing else, it’s all I need…,” from Trampled By Turtles or “Never seen the sun shine brighter, and it feels like me on a good day….” from Above & Beyond, or a combination of that and the charitable reason for bringing all of these eclectic fans and music together in the first place. Someone in the crowd declared that this show to them is, “like comfort food,” and Sir Richard is our host.

In the cozy, tucked away corner of the festival grounds, DJ Alvin Risk brought the Dance Forest to life with an early afternoon time slot of tunes like “Here We Go,” and “Tonight We Are Young,” that had the whole crowd singing in unison like the cast of Glee. He set the crowd reeling with his dubstep remix of “Earthquakey People.” And for those diehards so inclined, Risk pumped his FreeFest after show party at Washington DC’s U Street Music Hall on Facebook on Friday promising, “DC. This after party tmrw is going to be on another level….”

Off to the Pavilion Stage and switching gears, Trampled By Turtles generated a downhome, easy-going blend of fiddle, bluegrass and folk with the soft, strum-laden beauty ballad “Midnight On The Interstate,” offering a balanced composition of build and plucking. A fan commenting on the YouTube version of this song defined it perfectly with, “0 dislikes thus far is an amazing testament to this song’s ability to touch the heart.” The band followed with the energetic, dueling banjo, foot stomper “Sorry.” Their ability to weave their live show with heartfelt harmonies, back-to-back with frenzied romps, utilizing the same combination of banjo, mandolin, fiddle, harmonica, and guitar adds to their rousing appeal. Into their set singer, David Simonett, gave the shout out, “We got to catch Allen Stone before us and man, that was fantastic!” A Southern-voiced female cheered from the crowd, “You guys are so good!” A thank you came from the stage as the band went into “Trouble.”

The Dismemberment Plan was playing “The City” on the West Stage as Nervo duo took to the Dance Forest with “Reload,” a sampling of Otto Knows “Million Voices” and “Atom” while the word “Doomsday” repeated on the background visuals along with images similar to the T1000 robot from Terminator 2.

The Pavilion stage remained closely guarded during the reunited Ben Folds Five performance as too many fans tried to enter the pavilion seats causing over-crowding. For those up-close-and-personal they witnessed fun-loving singer Ben Scott Folds at his Baldwin piano belt out hits like “Michael Praytor, Five Years Later” and “Jackson Cannery,” rising from his bench at one point to remove one of the piano wires and giving it to a stage hand in a comical attempt to appear to adjust the sound.

As the sun began to set more noticeably in the heavily shaded Dance Forest due to the dense tree canopies, Thomas Gold dished out the electronic dance music classics “The Island,” “Teenage Crime,” and “Who’s In The House” to a frenzied, young crowd. Meanwhile the Pavilion Stage held a Janis Joplin revival of sorts with the Joplin’s similar soulful passion, stage antics, and song builds from Alabama Shakes on hits like “Hold On.”

Running from the Pavilion Stage to the West Stage to the Dance Forest, from blues rock to classic rock to trance, sidestepping over fans sunning on blankets of the pavilion hill, trying not to spill someone’s double-fisted, newly purchased brew filled to the brim, acknowledging of some message T-shirts like “One Hit Wonder” and “White Raver Rafting,” and trying to take it all in, the famous movie line from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off comes to mind, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

The young duo of Porter (Robinson) and Zedd proved their stellar, singular talents combined is a formula for excellence. This is a repeat on Sir Richard’s lineup for Robinson who made a solo appearance on the 2011 bill. Earning escalating accolades in recent months from their peers, critics, and fans, this teamed force is well on their ride to electronic dance music super stardom. They kicked off with the familiar intro chant of, “Breathing you in…” from Zedd’s breakthrough hit “Spectrum” and the remainder of their set was an amalgamation of winners like “Clarity,” “Spectrum” (full track,) “Unison,” and “Pay Attention To The Drums.”

The house lights of the Pavilion Stage went low in preparation for the next act, as the stage screen displayed, “Black Dahlia Films,” then “Gang of Outlaws.” This prelude set the stage for the enduring sounds of the blues rock trio ZZ Top. It should come as no surprise that they still got it considering the decades and generations of experience under their belts. With their trademark black clothing, dark sunglasses, cowboy hats, shrouding beards and mustaches, and stage features like their exhaust pipe microphone stands, they look as discernible and iconic as they did at the debut of their career. With hits like “I Thank You,” “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” and “Give Me All Your Lovin,” and with the occasional, obligatory paired up, sway back-and-forth in unison to the beat that the crowd expects, they had fans on their feet rocking their Southern roots.

Well past dusk as the thickened crowd meandered the grounds a confused group asked, “Where’s M83?” Another patron pointed in the direction of the West Stage answering, “There, where everyone is going.” Once there they discovered the French electronic band bathed in a celestial stage of blue and a grateful singer who made the declaration, “So very excited to be here with this beautiful crowd.” The band then ignited that crowd with the recognizable “Midnight City.”

Another Virgin FreeFest repeat, formerly performing as a member of the Raconteurs, Jack White, closed out the Pavilion Stage. He arrived decked out in a pin-striped black suit and tresses of hair that habitually obliterated his face. He was flanked by a landscape of all-female band members donning white as the singer flailed the stage making an occasional sinister glance. MTV’s Electronic Dance Music Artist of the Year, Skrillex, closed out the West Stage in celebrated style with smoke and pyrotechnics, a visual screen of metal wheels and cogs, his stylized name illuminated to fill the screen, a massive crowd spanning in all directions, and DJ decks resembling a futuristic, open-air lunar rover.

On Monday Richard Branson posted an image with the dubstep artist on Facebook adding, “Skrillex teaching me how to DJ at Virgin Mobile Live FreeFest. Should I stick to the day job?” Perhaps we’ll witness their tag team at next year’s FreeFest.

A perfect closing to the Dance Forest were the enchanting storytellers in the woods, Jono Grant and Paavo Siljamäki, of Above & Beyond. They continued their long-running Group Therapy theme with inspiring and poetic phrases displayed throughout their show in conjunction with historic events, the tracks played, and a sign of the times. They mixed their legendary tracks like “On My Way To Heaven,” “Alchemy,” “Thing Called Love,” “Home,” “Sun And Moon,” “Prelude,” and “Alone Tonight,” with phrases like, “The future is born slippy but it will be all good,” “This is home, “A bit more moon than sun tonight,” and “You are not alone.” They drew throngs of applause with, “We’ve been playing this song and dedicating it to people that inspire us, people that have inspired a generation people who left this earth too soon, Neil Armstrong thank you, Steve Jobs thank you.” They offered up a remix of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” before displaying “Whatever you do this autumn, remember life is made of small moments like this,” and ended with “Good For You.”

Ms. Post’s symphony orchestra in the woods venue didn’t quite come to fruition as expected but the successful outcome of witnessing the exalted music fans exiting the dusty grounds at closing time in the name of providing a community of homeless youth with access to housing, programs in social entrepreneurship and urban agriculture, in the end Ms. Post would surely give the DJ nod of approval.

Images by Kathy Vitkus

Jaytech: One Geeky Dude on the Road to the Future

In August Australian DJ/producer Jaytech issued his second full-length album, Multiverse, an album that was three years in the making. In a candid interview, our Kathy Vitkus talked to Jaytech about his latest endeavor featuring collaborations with Nathan Grainger and Dirty Vegas’ Steve Smith.

You’ve been quite busy since Big Shot spoke with you at Ultra Music Week in March 2011. Your new album, Multiverse, has just been released. What do you plan to do with your spare time or breathing room that you’re experiencing these days after this latest major project?
Jaytech: Absolutely! I just finished up a ten-day holiday with my sister and two friends in Japan. I had two gigs while I was there, in Tokyo and Fukuoka, respectively. As the two cities are at opposite ends of the main island, we decided to make our way across the country on the bullet trains and check out Kyoto and Hiroshima along the way. I’ve been to Japan four times but every trip has been squeezed into the space of two or three days at the most, so I wanted to actually soak it up a bit this time. My new album came out around the same time, so it was also a way to kind of take a step back from all the promo and marketing we’ve been doing lately.

Multiverse definitely echos that traditional, Above & Beyond/Anjunadeep euphoria. As a member of the prestigious Above & Beyond Anjunadeep label what is the guidance, approval, influence or scrutiny that comes from James Grant or the Anjuna team that effects your latest production or its track selection process?
For this particular album the main man running the A&R process was Allan McGrath, who joined as the manager of Anjunabeats in 2010. There was never any particular influence to do the album in a certain way. It was more about taking what we thought was the best of the material I’d written and arranging it in a way that would have the best impact. I’d say there were probably about 30 or 40 contenders for album tracks, 13 of which made the final cut, so it was definitely a huge undertaking for everyone involved.

“In a weird way, I think writing music helps sharpen your definition of the world around you, as it kind of explains things in a way you can’t necessarily do in words.”

“Stranger” appears to be the instant dance floor hit. Cosmic Gate tested it on the dance floor (with a glowing success) when they recently toured through DC, and Kyau & Albert wasted no time creating a valiant remix. It was your first single release from Multiverse. Other than its obvious and infectious lovability and groove, what is it that personally impressed you about “Stranger” that influenced your selection as the first single release from your latest album?
Ultimately, I feel it’s Steve Smith’s vocal work that has taken the track’s appeal to the next level. It’s a nice lyrical sentiment, not too much for listeners to swallow, but with some extra layers of musical complexity for those who want it. We recorded it in Above & Beyond’s studio in London, which is a much nicer recording environment than I’m used to in terms of setup and acoustic treatment. I think that reflects in the record – as a vocal track it came together quite easily.

How was it that you convinced Steve Smith of Dirty Vegas fame to lend his incomparable, sensual and sultry vocals on this track?
After Dirty Vegas’ single “Tonight” was selected as the official anthem for the Ibiza Music Summit in 2009, Above & Beyond were enlisted to do a club mix, which was partly produced in front of a live audience during the summit. After that, the track became quite popular among Anjunabeats fans, and later on we got in touch with Steve to see if he’d be interested in doing some vocal work for my album. We had the rough draft for “Stranger” in the works for a while but eventually decided to get together in London, to expand on the lyrics and give it the recording treatment it deserved.

Your label mate, Above & Beyond’s Tony McGuinness, often uses his songwriting as a sort of catharsis and has therefore managed an undaunted series of poignant, candid manifestos over the years. Your “Labour Of Love” in title alone offers insinuation to the trials and tribulations in relationships. Are the lyrics on “Stranger” and “Labour Of Love” some of your own and do they have a story to tell drawn on personal experience?
In the words of producer Nile Rodgers, whose autobiography I read just recently, it’s always good to give your lyrics a secret hidden meaning — something that everyone will relate to but that also means something hidden to you personally. While “Stranger” is largely Steve’s interpretation, the lyrics on “Labour of Love” do have a double meaning. For me it’s also about the trials and tribulations of writing a second artist album, and relating to an ever-changing audience. The story of the track is basically about pushing on for the sake of what you love, even if the path is not as clear and simple as it used to be. To me, this is true in both music and relationships.

Was the release of your latest album in conjunction with your 27th birthday pure coincidence or was this a calculated birthday present to yourself and a gift to the rest of the world?
To be quite honest we were originally looking at getting it out a little earlier, as it’s been four years since my last artist album. In the end, I think it was the right choice to give it a bit longer in order to get the track list and artwork properly wrapped up, and to time it in the release schedule in a way that would have the best effect. I guess it is a gift to the world, although to me the reward is the process of writing it. In a weird way, I think writing music helps sharpen your definition of the world around you, as it kind of explains things in a way you can’t necessarily do in words.

You’ve paired with Serenade on both “Everglade” and “Through The Maze.” What can you tell us about this amiable songstress and the history of your collaboration with her?
We’ve known each other for a very long time and she’s actually responsible for a lot of the vocal “snippets” from some of my earlier work, such as “Genesis” and “Manipulator.” I’ve always considered her to have an amazing voice, and I think the best from her is yet to come. The two tracks she features in on the album are still largely instrumental affairs, but when I get the chance to record her under really great circumstances I think we should definitely do a more fully fledged vocal track, like I did with Steve Smith.

What is your working relationship and your meeting of the minds with Nathan Grainger who sings on “Labour Of Love” and “Innovation?”
Nathan is basically a living legend amongst our crew back in Australia and heavily involved in the world of electronic music. We’ve been rocking out to prog anthems and partying together for as long as I can remember, and we’ve actually written three whole albums together just for fun. Usually the music we’ve written has been of a pretty silly nature, but having done so much recording together it just kind of made sense to actually try and do something more seriously.

“Innovation” in name is a forward-thinking term although this smooth, unique track has a retro ’90s feel like a subtle version of Depeche Mode “Rush” meets God Lives Under Water “Your Mouth.” What was the inspiration and framework behind the making of this particular track?
It’s more indicative of the kind of music my friends are listening to back in Australia. Although a lot of them started with progressive house and trance, nowadays when I go back there people are listening to all kinds of stuff, such as glitch, dubstep, midtempo and a whole bunch of other styles I never knew existed. “Innovation” was influenced by that kind of slower tempo sound.

Fans missed you at the Group Therapy show in Miami this past March. Your unfortunate absence from the scheduled line-up was due to unforeseen circumstances but your absence, especially from this particular show, was an unprecedented void. The annual, Miami in March, Anjunabeats/Anjunadeep shows are not quite the same without the Jaytech franchise. What are you plans to take your DJ show on the road promoting Multiverse to a world of Anjuna fans?
The plan is to really tour the hell out of the album over the next six or eight months. At the moment we’ve got gigs lined up for North and South America, Australia and Asia, and there’s more stuff in the pipeline. Should be a pretty busy year of travel I think! As for Miami, I will definitely be there in 2013.

Scattered throughout the 13-track collection you host a few melodic, downtempo compositions and wrap with “Blue Ocean” feat. Melody Gough and “Coda” which are 96bpm and 93bpm respectively. As Above & Beyond did with Group Therapy this allows the opportunity and endless possibilities for a transition into club remixes. Do you see that in the future for any or all of these tracks?
Possibly, although I think I’m more inclined to create clubbier mixes of the progressive and trance tracks from the album. It’s always a bit of a pain making a club mix out of a 93bpm track because the tempo is way off what it needs to be, so you either need to speed up/slow down the vocal a lot or do some creative chopping, and often you end up pretty far removed from the original musical idea.

As part of the Anjunabeats/Anjunadeep label you’re aware of their reputation for working with quite the prolific artists. If given the choice, which artist could you see assimilating quite well into the Anjunadeep family and why, or one who might present another collaboration opportunity for you?

To be honest I’d love to see an Eric Prydz record on Anjunadeep, although he’s got such a good thing going with his own imprint that it maybe wouldn’t make much sense to do that. As for assimilation into the Anjunadeep family, it’s great to see Jody Wisternoff featuring more on the label as I’ve always been a big fan of his sound.

The partial list of the approval ratings from fans regarding your latest release reads like the following, “… Jimbo, you did everything right..,” “… Already had it for 2 days and haven’t stopped listening to it!!!…” and “SWEET JESUS…. THIS ALBUM!” With all modesty aside, in 30 words or less, how would you describe Multiverse.

One geeky dude on the road to the future, painting a picture of the colorful things he sees along the way.

Live image via Facebook