Final Thoughts On Ultra Music Festival 2012

The last confetti blasts have blown and the pyrotechnics have now cooled but for roughly two glorious weeks in March the worldwide electronic dance music (EDM) community was tuned in to the festivities strewn across the pristine beaches of South Florida for the Winter Music Conference and the Ultra Music Festival. Artists, DJs, producers, agents, and fans networked, danced, and celebrated all in the name of EDM.

In conjunction with the Conference the 27th International Dance Music Awards announced their big winners in 57 categories including Hardwell nabbing Best Breakthrough DJ, Tiesto garnering Best Full Length DJ Mix for Club Life: Vol.1 Las Vegas, and Pacha, New York earning the Best US Club award.

A recorded 165,000 people attended the three-day, sold-out event that was the Ultra Music Festival at Bayfront Park, Miami. For those not part of the Ultra thousands, Miami Beach and South Beach have become an expanding, alternative mecca to indulge just the same. Mansion hosted the Dirty South and Friends party. Nikki Beach featured Gabriel & Dresden. While at The National there was the Wolfgang Gartner & Friends event with Tommy Trash and Bart B More vs. Harvard Bass.

Quality competition could be found right at the back door of the famed Ultra event at Grand Central Park, Miami with the highly anticipated return of the Swedish House Mafia Masquerade Motel featured this year as a two-day event and also relocated from last year’s location in South Beach.

In a different variety of healthy competition there was Team Sweden and Team The Netherlands in a battle on the soccer field at the Fountainbleau Miami Beach, and under the Florida heat, all in the name of charity. Tiesto managed the Dutch team including team members Sunnery James, Ryan Marciano, and Afrojack. The Swedish opposition was led by Sebastian Ingrosso and included Dada Life, Alesso, and Otto Knows. The Netherlands won the game 13-11 with the proceeds going to the charitable cause (RED,) the Global Fund to fight AIDS.

There were daytime pool parties, all-day festivals, evening rooftop events, and for the insomniacs who could do it all, there were the famed after parties.

Some attended the premiere of the Ultra movie Can U Feel It: The UMF Experience.

Recent year’s oversized, tank top catchphrase, “I’m In Miami Bitch” gave way to “I’m Sexy And I Know It.”

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (and a pun,) tracks like “Internet Friends,” “Levels,” “Kick Out The Epic Mother Fucker,” “Maximal Crazy,” and “Paradise” were favored by so many artists as was evident by the extreme heavy rotation. But the environment of the EDM festivities is the perfect forum for artists to debut and promote some of their latest, fresh material like Sander Van Doorn with “Inside” featuring Mayeni which very well could be next year’s “Maximal Crazy.”

Whether you love it, don’t care for it, or somewhere in between, there is no denying that dubstep has infiltrated all genres including trance and drum ‘n’ bass, but as always, there was something for everyone.

Now that most of us revelers have sadly sipped our last mojito on South Beach and flew home with some sand in our shorts, snapshots on our phones, video snippets to post to YouTube, and memories of the epicness but with the upcoming, day-to-day, 9-5, looming ahead, remember the motto of the famed Miami Beach establishment La Sandwicherie: “Enjoy Life Every Day.”

Read our recap of day one here day two here and day three here.

Images by Kathy Vitkus

Ultra Music Festival 2012: Day One [Recap]

At first observation Ultra Music Festival 2012 has more attendance for day one than I’ve ever in past years. Hordes of fans arrived earlier than previous years and to navigate the grounds and stake out good spots for some of your favorite artist’s stages.

On arrival to the main stage I caught the last few minutes of Tommy Trash to witness his head banging, hair flying, and a crowd already more familiar than me with his rise and fall sounds and changing beat to keep up in dance moves.

Clean cut Martin Solveig appeared in a Lacoste polo shirt and ’80s aerobics headband and played the lovestruck and catchy Rihanna’s “We Found Love” featuring Calvin Harris. How sweet. He eventually pitched some dubstep moments of sounds and bleeps and ended up Skrillex “Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites” and Knife Party “Internet Friends” which warns, “You blocked me on Facebook and now you’re going to die.” Such a turnaround from Solveig’s boy-next-door appearance but the crowd was tearing it up on these.

He eventually regrouped and played the crowd his singalong remix of Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and ended with his track that really helped put him on the map, the pop-styled (and more neighborly) “Hello” featuring Dragonette.

Veteran electronic dance music artists New Order played a live stage set and announced, “Hello Miami. It’s been a while since we’ve been here; it’s good to be back.” They went on to play some of their classics that were the household names of the club scene throughout the ’80s yet still hold strong today including “Regret” and “Blue Monday.”

Meandering stage-to-stage and tent-to-tent I would’ve like to had the opportunity to stop at Benny Benassi’s performance especially when I believe that’s where “Cinema” was resonating from but I was on a mad dash to catch Porter Robinson at the UMF Korea stage, and I lost my bearings.

I caught the end of the set of teenage pop/house producer Madeon and for someone who has only been in the industry for a relatively short while he sure knows already how to command a stage and class it up as well. He was rocking out all while sporting a dinner jacket even though it was probably at least 85 degrees in that tent! He gets points for that, for his artistic DJ skills and funked up set, for his electro-house hit “Icarus,” for his Blur “Song 2” Madeon remix that gave the crowd an opportunity to yell, “Woo hoo!” at cued moments, and for the fact that he really is that guy who’s claim to fame is that he mixed an impressive 39 songs into one. He topped off his set with a little drum ‘n’ bass.

Porter Robinson followed with a string of greats that are almost too vast to name from the Knife Party remix of his own “Unison,” Tiësto “Maximal Crazy,” Skrillex “Summit,” and Sam Worsley “Apathy,” to Knife Party “Internet Friends,” Skrillex “Bangarang,” and Temple One “Love The Fear” Tom Fall remix. Porter’s was one of the most stellar sets of the day but no surprise there, his sets are always top notch.

Across the festival grounds Afrojack was finishing his set with the Afrojack and Shermanology track “Can’t Stop Me Now.”

No doubt the crowd highlight of the night came from the highly anticipated and the highly humble Mr. Sonny Moore better known as Skrillex. When an offstage announcer came over the PA stating, “The three-time Grammy Award winner, the one, the only, Skrillex,” it certainly had nice ring to it. It also helps when the stage backdrop hosts a countdown of minutes until your appearance, and the ticker gets to 10, as the screams of the crowd as far as the eye could see is deafening, and the ascending bass from the walls of speakers flanking the stage compete with the deafening screams, it’s definitely going to be something pretty impressive. And the fact that you get to play your set in an over-sized Delorean-looking DJ deck set up right in the middle of the already massive stage surrounded by hundreds of fluctuating streams of lights. It’s an ultimate (adult) kid-in-a-candy store moment and Skrillex gets to be that kid. He played a plethora of favorites including his own Grammy Award winning “Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites,” Avici “Levels,” and his own “Reptile’s Theme” and “Bangarang.”

Skrillex ended his set with Benny Benassi’s lovely “Cinema” Skrillex remix that even had Paris Hilton singing along from beginning to end from her VIP section perched high on the sidestage surrounded by her current BFF Afrojack on one side and DJ Dirty South on the other. She’s the luckiest girl I (don’t) know. The dubstep “Cinema” was the perfect energized ending that included explosions of steamers, confetti, and cryogenics.

When I had literally a minute or two at the backstage UMF Korea tent with Skrillex I gave him props for his set, his production skills, and his artistic endeavors. I asked him if he could even view how far back his Ultra crowd tonight spanned. He shyly shrugged as he took a swig of his drink. When I struggled to give him an accurate, yet somewhat metaphoric description I came up with, “From here to South Beach!” Well, that made him laugh in his drink a bit and he thanked me. Seriously, I don’t recall ever seeing fans that thick for a single artist in the history of Ultra.

With the blaring sounds of “Big Bad Wolf,” another current festival favorite “Kick Out The Epic Mother Fucker, and “White Noise Red Meat” blaring from the still overflowing UMF Korea tent manned by Dada Life, there wasn’t a shred of evidence that this event was starting to wind down any time soon.

And to think, this is just the first of three Ultra Music Festival days.

Images by Kathy Vitkus

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

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And the winner is…

Big thanks to everyone who entered the contest!