Ultra Music Festival 2012: Day Two [Recap]

My fourth day in South Beach began with a refreshing and rejuvenating swim in the ocean while it seemed the rest of the world was still asleep. Stopped for an omelet brunch at the Ocean Drive Cardozo patio, indulged in a little people watching, and fended off the vendors selling everything from Caribbean cigars to hand-crafted, realistic-looking grasshoppers made from palm leaves.

I walked back again to the W Hotel for the final day of the cherished Belve Music Lounge party. pparently it was more cherished today since the epic guest at yesterday’s Belve event was electronic dance music front man Tiesto and the word was out. The line meandered to the parking and in front of the curiosity that was the Deadmau5 Sol Republic Soldier Shuttle.

Once inside the Belve, Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano were delivering Empire of the Sun’s “Walking On A Dream” amid the throngs of doublefisting revelers enjoying their complimentary Belvedere concoctions like the Lemonade Powermix. Sander van Doorn revisited his appearance from last year and played Ivan Gough & Feenixpawl “In My Mind” featuring Georgi Kay (Axwell Mix) which simply epitomized the sentimentality in mood and lyrics of our farewell last day at the Belve Lounge.

Back at day 2 of Ultra Music Festival, Laidback Luke inspired hands held high in double ‘L’ as is tradition or maybe for the fact that he was blasting Avicii “Levels.” DJ Chuckie hopped up onto the decks to further fire up the crowd as Fatboy Slim “Praise You” went into Oasis’ “Wonderwall.”

I hurriedfrom the main stage to the live stage although that’s an inaccurate choice of words considering the incredibly dense crowd but I made it in order to catch the fun-loving and quirky Metronomy. Their robotic jerks of motion and quizzical stare melded so well with the lyrics and peculiar beats of “The Bay,” “Heartbreaker,” and “She Wants.”

Unfortunately technical difficulties with onstage equipment prevented M83 from taking the stage for more than 45 minutes past their 8:00pm start time. At 8:35 the crowd’s chants of “M-8-3” almost seemed to do wonders. The appeasement of M83’s appearance to the packed crowd didn’t last long since they only played two tracks kicking off with their powerhouse hit “Midnight City,” which even endured a three-second glitch of silence mid-song. What a shame since the band’s unique sound via animated use of multiple trigger pads and synthesizers is both visually and aurally stimulating and we definitely would have all loved to have seen so much more. They band scurried off with a similar frustration of the disappointed fans in attendance but promised to return.

Meanwhile at the UMF Brasil tent Andy C proved that drum n bass is alive and more than well and that the packed fans still know to, “Put your fuckin hands up,” on cue.

Approaching the main stage the signature crucifix of Justice could be seen from hundreds of yards away as the echoes of the Schoolhouse Rock styled “D.A.N.C.E.” reverberated.

Today’s featured artist, Avicii, on the main stage unfortunately competed with the very worthy 2manydjs on the live stage but the thrill of witnessing Madonna introduce Avicii and then join him in the booth was quite the impressive, rockstar spectacle. Not be outdone, Skrillex later snuck from behind the performing DJ to fanatically wave as if in a brief moment and in gest to steal Avicii’s thunder although no harm done. Avicii wowed with “Fade Into Darkness” and Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.” as a possible tribute to his predecessors without missing a beat and almost oblivious to the antics going on behind him.

Day 3 of Ultra, the final Ultra of 2012, is all that’s left and I can’t help sing the lyrics from “Save This Moment” by John O’Callghan, “…save this moment. I don’t wanna stop it now. I don’t want for this to end.”

Images by Kathy Vitkus

Read our recap of UMF 2012 day one here.

Contest Alert! Win Tickets to Ultra Music Festival

Ultra Music Festival 2012, taking place March 23-26, at Bayfront Amphitheater in Downtown Miami, sold-out almost instantly thanks to its stellar lineup of talent including: Tiësto, Kraftwerk, Carl Cox, Skrillex, Afrojack, Miike Snow, Pretty Lights, New Order, Groove Armada (DJ set), Dirty South, Loco Dice, A-Trak, Dada Life, Avicii, Justice, Fatboy Slim, Duck Sauce, M83, Carl Cox, Laidback Luke, 2manydjs, Metronomy, David Guetta, Armin Van Buuren, Kaskade, Bassnectar, Chase and Status, Bloody Beetroots (DJ set), Fedde Le Grand, Knife Party, Magnetic Man, John Digweed, Steve Aoki, Ferry Corsten, and many more.

Tickets are impossible to get, but Big Shot is giving away a precious pair of tickets to the three-day blowout courtesy of our friends at UMF.

Excited? You should be!

To enter the contest tweet the following:

I want to win @ultramusic tickets 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 is responsible for transportation to/from UMF 2012
• Anyone found using multiple accounts to enter will be ineligible
• Contest ends at 12:00pm EST on March 22, 2012

Like Big Shot on Facebook. It’s free!

And the winner is…

Big thanks to everyone who entered the contest!

M83 Hearts the ’80s


Movie soundtracks used to be big events, a fact that the members of Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark must drunkenly lament to anyone who will listen at the local pub. The music that accompanied teen movies from the 1980s, particularly those of John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles), became iconic in their own right, a fact that is not lost on M83’s Anthony Gonzalez. His latest album, the new wave-leaning Saturdays=Youth, evokes a number of the bands that made it big through film, while paying tribute to his teens.

“I wanted to recreate the feeling of those years,” he says. “I want this album to remind people of that period when you start to go out with friends and discover new things. Those were certainly the most beautiful days in my life.”

The opening notes of “Kim & Jessie” immediately call to mind the Psychedelic Furs and Tears for Fears. The sound wasn’t easy to achieve, Gonzalez says, but he did have expert help from producer Ken Thomas, who once manned the soundboard for Cocteau Twins. Ewan Pearson also pitches in on the more modern-sounding tracks, like the eight-minute anthem “Couleurs.” Vocalist Morgan Kibby of the Romanovs sings a number of these teen tales with the perfect level of angst and wonderment.

It probably goes without saying that Gonzalez wasn’t interested in evoking the aspects of this era that stand as beacons of its tackiness.

“A lot of people, when they aim for ’80s music, they do it with irony,” he says. “But there is no irony at all in my relationship with music from the ’80s. I’m not just playing it because it’s kitsch. I really tried to capture the musical essence of artists like Kate Bush or Simple Minds. I wanted it to be personal.”

In the five years that have passed since M83 debuted with Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts, the one-time duo has become a one-man band. (Nicolas Fromageau left to pursue solo work; it doesn’t appear that he’s found a home with any labels yet.) Gonzalez continued on his own, dropping Before the Dawn Heals Us in 2005 and, just this past September, the ambient side-project Digital Shades, Vol. 1.

Though it arrives hot on the heel of Digital Shades, Saturdays=Youth has been two tears in the making (one year of composing, then another year of recording and mixing). When we ask if he’s a workaholic, Gonzalez is quick to assert he hasn’t been slaving on his weekend tribute the entire time. “I like to take days and play video games and watch sports,” he says. “I can be a really lazy guy.”

M83 Tackles the ’80s


Look out for a new M83 album, Saturdays = Youth, in the middle of April. Mute Records will drop it on the 15th. It will follow Digital Shades Volume 1, which was released only four months ago. That album, a collection of ambient tracks, was intended to be a part of a series in the same vein.

For the upcoming record, Anthony Gonzalez worked with Morgan Kibby, known for her work playing with the Romanovs and voice work on film trailers, after meeting and getting in touch with her via MySpace. He claims we can expect a throwback to his teenage, which he mentions consisted of hitting up parties, doing drugs, and having a good time. This will, of course, be the second album Gonzalez has made since his departure with Nicolas Fromageau, who we last heard from on Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts.

Where several M83 tracks have been used in various soundtracks (Night Watch and A Scanner Darkly), perhaps we can expect that this album will provide new ambient material for future subversive film trailer soundtracks.