The third and final of the Ultra Music Festival featured an eclectic group of artists all across the Bayfront Park grounds. For trance lovers, it was the grand finale and the ultimate UMF experience.
As in recent tradition, four-time number one DJ in the world, Armin van Buuren, presented A State Of Trance (ASOT) as an Ultra mega tent extravaganza hosting some of the hottest trance acts in the world.
Relative newcomers, Austin-based duo Tritonal joined the ranks this year still celebrating the fruits of their labor on last year’s highly successful artist release, Piercing The Quiet. They fully indulged in their esteemed ASOT spot and won the crowd with hits like “Slave.”
A State Of Trance repeats and Cosmic Gate entertained with some classics “Fire Wire” and “Exploration Of Space,” as familiar sing alongs to dedicated tranceheads.
Dutch great Sander van Doorn veered toward house with “Sweet Disposition,” as the screen backdrop announced, “This is A State Of Trance and this is Sander van Doorn.” Then on the backdrop came, “Make some noise,” followed by, “I can’t hear you.” Van Doorn exercised perfect timing dropping his heavy rotation track from last year’s festival, the still popular “Koko.” There was no longer the need for, “I can’t hear you,” at this point. As the crowd was enthralled in moments of trance ecstasy Sander played what seems to be a favorite of his own and his fans alike, Ivan Gough & Feenixpawl “In My Mind” featuring Georgi Kay (Axwell Mix.)
This year Dash Berlin also held a cherished spot on ASOT entering with Above & Beyond’s “Thing Called Love.” He continued to favor a love song theme with “Till The Sky Falls Down” and “I’m Coming Home.”
Far from ASOT either voyaging over the grassy hills of the bumper-to-bumper lounging fans or navigating through the herding cattle of crowds on Biscayne Boulevard it was worth the effort to catch even just a glimpse of the magic that is the duo of Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen also now known as the Pendulum side project Knife Party. They set the main stage on fire, some might say literally. (It was rumored that the main stage caught fire, a legitimate concern although that was not the case.) In reality it was the visual effect flames on the screens framing the stage in addition to rooftop pipes blasting spurts of real flames from the stage top. Fans could feel the heat of the pipe flames all the way to the back of the crowd by Biscayne Boulevard. Everyone who’s everyone in the scene has been captivated by the crowd response from Knife Party’s “Internet Friends,” and Knife Party was no exception giving this gem the airplay it deserves during their set. They brought their remixes of both Nero “Crush On You” and Porter Robinson “Unison.” In fact, everything this Australian team spewed out was a party, and thousands of their best friends were invited. Knife Party is definitely one to watch, as if fans and producers haven’t already taken notice for quite some time.
Dash Berlin was wrapping up back at ASOT with Coldplay’s “Clocks,” and ending with another Above & Beyond dynamo “Sun and Moon,” but not before singer Emma Hewitt joined him on stage for some reciprocal, complimenting bows to each other and some synched hand swaying in the air to inspire the crowd.
The camaraderie continued when Armin van Buuren prematurely appeared at the decks only long enough to give an embracing send off to ASOT mainstay buddy, Ferry Corsten, and intentionally or unintentionally tease the crowd with his presence. In a friendly gesture van Buuren lifted Corsten up off the ground to present him to the adoring fans below before vanishing backstage until it was his turn at the decks. Corsten dropped numerous crowd pleasers including “Check It Out” and the archived treasure “Adagio For Strings.”
Host Armin van Buuren manned the decks at 8:00pm and the magic and magnificence of this moment stretched throughout the packed tent and beyond. He was on a series of high moments like when he dropped “Burned With Desire” featuring Justine Suissa and the magic didn’t stop there. He was double billed also closing out the main stage at 10:00pm.
Gareth Emery and Kaskade helped round out the ASOT bill with Emery dropping Heatbeat “Rocker Monster” and Coldplay “Paradise,” and Kaskade driving the crowd crazy with Tiesto “Maximal Crazy.”
The main stage went dim close to 9:00pm as a voice boomed over the sound system with, “This is the man who means more to EDM than anyone else in the world. This is David Guetta.” The current number one DJ in the world blasted hit after hit like, Afrojack “Can’t Stop Me Now” featuring Shermanology, an electro version of “Sexy Bitch” that included the added lyric, “David Guetta bitch,” and “When Love Takes Over.” He introduced Afrojack who joined him on stage surrounded by uproarious applause, then out came Steve Aoki, then Benny Benassi to pure crowd pandemonium.
All too soon the party had to end and the world for so many festival fans would have to return to normal whatever “normal” may be.
Images by Kathy Vitkus