Photograph by Rukes
In less than four days, Miami will play host to the biggest and craziest electronic music party on the planet, Ultra Music Festival. Pick a brand name DJ—Tiësto, Kaskade, Avicii, Hardwell, David Guetta—they're all there. Hell, you'd be hard-pressed to find a DJ that isn't making the trip.
With over 200 performances across three days, let's face it, there's no way you can catch every single act. You'd be crazy to even try. With eight different stages to choose from, things can get a little overwhelming, and the hundreds of thousands of rabid fans and the blazing temperature aren't going to be doing you any favors. Don't worry, that's what we're here for! Check out our list below for ten acts well worth the price of admission, and get ready for a party you'll never remem… err forget.
1. Maceo Plex
Friday at 5:30 PM-7:00 PM (Carl Cox & Friends Stage)
One part underground icon and another part mainstream techno kingpin, the former ghost producer turned low-end deity known as Maceo Plex had a serious run in 2013. Now, the man occasionally known as Maetrik is set to take over Carl Cox's stage and deliver his signature brand of off-kilter, foreboding techno to the masses. With techno set to explode this year, Maceo should serve as an enticing option for fans tired of the big room. Check out his newest EP, Conjure One, to get a taste of what's to come this Friday.
2. Eric Prydz Pres. HOLO
Friday at 8:30 PM-9:30 PM (Main Stage)
If last year's EPIC 2.0 shows in the US are anything to go by, Eric Prydz' opening night performance at Ultra is going to be one for the ages. His latest and greatest 3D visual setup, titled HOLO, has been kept under wraps in the months leading up to the event, but we have little reservations in declaring it his biggest setup yet.
Regarding his productions and live performances, his reputation precedes him—as far as progressive house goes—the man is a living god. Expect to hear breathtaking, knee-weakening mix-ins, surprising live edits, and a whole bevy of unreleased tunes. While you're at it, make sure to check out Pryda's nasty side when he performs under his Cirez D moniker at the Ultra Ibiza stage on Sunday night—it's dark techno goodness.
Friday at 9:00 PM-10:30 PM (Underground Story Stage)
Originally a Toronto treasure, it's safe to say that, at this point, Jonny White and Kenny Glasgow are international sensations. Ever since their debut at WMC 2010, the genre-bending duo has managed to balance mainstream success with an unadulterated underground respectability. And one look at their time slot—ahead of Damian Lazarus, Lee Burridge, and Lee Foss. This should provide all the proof hip-hop and tech fans need. Don't miss it.
Friday at 9:40 PM-10:30 PM (Live Stage)
Remember these guys? It's been a minute since the American band wowed the world with Oracular Spectacular and Congratulations, but, as far as live acts go, it's hard to argue against the inclusion of the psychedelic indie pop group. A solid list of crowd-friendly hits have the "Kids" with the "Electric Feel" poised to make some waves on opening night, and their inclusion in the festivities lends credence to Ultra's position as more than just a "DJ Festival." Friday also marks the first time in six years that members Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden will share the stage with M.I.A., so make sure you get over there to catch it.
Friday at 10:45 PM-12:00 AM (Live Stage)
If deep, dark, acid-tinged industrial techno is your thing, then Gesaffelstein has got to be on top of your list. In 2013, the sharp-dressed man of Bromance dropped Aleph, arguably an album of the year candidate, and this year it looks to be more of the same—check out his brand new collaboration with A$AP Rocky for proof of that.
6. DJ Snake
Saturday at 8:00 PM-9:00 PM (Ultra Worldwide Stage)
Turn down for what? Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard DJ Snake's massive, booty-shaking single with Lil Jon. If for some reason, you were residing underneath said boulder, check out the music video—it's absolutely ridiculous. Who would have thought that a Frenchman would be responsible for the biggest trap track of the year?
While Snake is making his Ultra debut on Saturday alongside the leaders of trap—Flosstradamus, RL Grime, and GTA, among others—he is more than capable of tackling other genres. Case in point, his recent Essential Mix. Throughout the two-hour set, DJ Snake smashes up R&B, hip-hop, electro, future house, and everything in between, leaving no discussion about his legitimacy as a DJ.
7. Jack U
Sunday at 5:20 PM-6:30 PM (Main Stage)
What happens when you combine the rude boy of bass with Jamaica's favorite adopted son? We're not entirely sure yet, but damned if it isn't going to be awesome. Skrillex and Diplo first teamed up at a Mad Decent Block Party last year, but Ultra will mark their first-ever festival performance as super-duo Jack U. Excited? Unless you're a corpse, you should be.
8. Cyril Hahn
Sunday at 6:00 PM-7:00 PM (UMF Radio Stage)
With so many famous acts hogging up all the news, it can be easy to miss performers like Cyril Hahn. If you're a fan of sites like The Hype Machine and Eargasm, then you've definitely heard of his stripped-down remixes of Destiny's Child, Mariah Carey, or Sigur Rós.
The Vancouver producer has the ability to create hauntingly beautiful songs that drip with both melancholy and melody, this has won him no small amount of admirers. Among them are the UK duo Disclosure, who signed him to their PMR Label. If you're a fan of slow-burning, R&B-tinged house, then you need to look no further. Want proof? Listen and download Cyril Hahn's newest single, "Getting There", down below.
Sunday at 7:00 PM-8:30 PM (A State of Trance Stage)
When trance legends Ferry Corsten and Markus Schulz announced last year that they would be linking up to create a "dream team" group, half the dance world went into a collective apoplexy. Promising to bring a "harder, driving and more aggressive" sound and a "tighter and more dynamic" live show, the duo are set to perform in a prime-time spot at Armin van Buuren's ASOT 650. Expect explosive energy, touching moments, and a wicked combination of Markus' hard-hitting trance and Ferry's softer, more melodic compositions.
To celebrate Miami Music week, The Punx have released their newest single—a bootleg tribute to the classic Speedy J Track "Pullover"—for free. Listen and download below.
Sunday at 8:30 PM-10:00 PM (Ultra Worldwide Stage)
At a first glance, the lineup for ASOT 650 may have been confusing. Where was Armin? Yes, he had a prime-time slot on the Main Stage on Saturday night, but what about his own flagship series? This year, fans at the Mega Structure are in for something special: a set from Armin under his Gaia alias. In other words, a performance geared towards an authentic, classic trance experience. Somewhere, a group of trance purists just blew their loads in unison.
Per Ultra's Instagram:
"AVB will be taking a purist's approach, as he gears up to deliver a set chocked full of nothing but Trance. From harder-edged tracks, to the most uplifting of sounds, this performance will see the complete arsenal of powerful trance tracks that have won over the hearts of #Ultranauts across the globe."
Yeah, like you needed more reasons to love Armin.
You can follow Jesse on Twitter: @jesse_champagne