Photograph courtesy of Calder Wilson
For one weekend at the end of March, electronic music was the unchallenged king of America. One week and a quarter of a million people later, the proverbial dust has finally settled in Bayfront Park, the 72-hour home of the annual Ultra Music Festival. Couldn't make the trip? Well, at least your bank statement thinks you're cool. In case you missed all the action, here are the highs, the lows, and the unforgettable moments of UMF 2014.
"Neither Rain, Nor Sleet…"
On Saturday night, severe thunderstorms threatened to end the festival during peak party time. Several stages, including the main stage where Above & Beyond was performing, were shut down temporarily. When the rain finally abated, the Group Therapy stars had their backs to the audience and their equipment hidden backstage. Sounds like a buzzkill, right? Think again. Despite the wet conditions, Above & Beyond delivered an inspired set that had the muggy masses singing their collective hearts out, especially when they closed with an acoustic version of "Sun and Moon." A little rain never hurt anyone, and the crowds at Ultra proved it.
Jack U Jacked Up The Main Stage
Expectations were higher than a Major Lazer groupie for the festival debut of the Skrillex and Diplo super-group Jack U. Serving as perfect compliments to one another, the duo took turns hyping up the crowd on the mic and on the decks, delivering a series of VIP edits, remixes, new jams, and old classics. Typically, by the third day of a non-stop party, most people are short on smiles and serotonin, but the high-energy performance forced the crowd out of their lethargy and into mass hysteria.
Someone Literally Shit Their Pants During RL Grime's Set
We always knew that RL Grime's sets were nasty, but this took things to another level. Real trap shit.
— RL Grime (@RLGRIME)
March 30, 2014
Eric Prydz Enchants Despite Technical Difficulties
Although technical problems robbed fans of the highly anticipated HOLO show, that didn't stop Eric Prydz from delivering one of the best performances in Ultra's history. Beginning with an unreleased ID and ending with a live "Pjanoo" mash-up, Prydz gave the Main Stage crowd a taste of what pure progressive house sounds like. The incredible, mind-melting light show and transcendental track transitions didn't hurt either.
But that wasn't the end for Prydz, he showcased his darker side as Cirez D at the Space Ibiza Stage. "I know I played the Main Stage and all that," he wrote after his two-hour Cirez D set, "but that was my fave Ultra moment."
Class Level: Ultra
Sometimes, we think people forget that this type of shit is seen by hundreds of thousands of people all over the Internet. And that it never, ever, goes away. Goodbye, job prospects. Hello, dumpster diving.
Need more proof? Take a look at this gem, titled "Just a girl casually peeing on an unconscious man's face at Ultra Music Festival." Beautiful and NSFW.
DJ Snake Closes His Set With Whitney Houston
Yes, you read that right. DJ Snake, the Parisian producer behind the titanic trap tune "Turn Down For What," finished off his electrifying set with Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." And we don't mean a remix or an edit; we're talking about the original 1992 love ballad. Bizarre? Perhaps. Heartwarming? Absolutely.
Destruction and Dumbasses
This year, Ultra made the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
On opening night, illegal gatecrashers trampled and nearly killed Erica Mack, a 28-year-old security guard, when they knocked over a chain-link fence. Although she survived, she was rushed to the hospital after suffering a broken leg and serious head trauma. We can only hope that a few idiots didn't ruin it for everyone.
Oh deadmau5, You So Funny
With Avicii hospitalized after an emergency gallbladder surgery, Ultra was short a Saturday headliner. Enter deadmau5. Yep, the same guy who once declared that "Ultra is the same thing every fucking year." We're guessing his acceptance had something to do with the giant pile of money they threw at him. Always one to keep things interesting, his performance at UMF 2014 did not disappoint.
His set consisted of minimalistic techno, new songs from his upcoming double album, and some master level trolling. At the midway point, deadmau5 mixed into Martin Garrix' totally-played-out-smash-single, "Animals." Prancing around to the front of the stage, deadmau5 got the crowd amped for the drop. And then the familiar sounds of "Old MacDonald Had A Farm" hit the speakers. Continuing his Main Stage mischiefs, deadmau5 also mixed in the vocals of "Ghosts N Stuff" with Avicii's "Levels," to varying degrees of laughter and disgust. Some people—we're looking at you, Tiesto—got their rave towels up in a twist. We, on the other hand, thought it was freaking hilarious.
— MARTIN GARRIX (@MartinGarrix)
March 30, 2014
You can follow Jesse on Twitter: @jesse_champagne