After Its 15th Year, Ultra Music Festival Shows No Signs of Slowing Down

ultra 2013

For All of Weekend Two Photos, Check out: Day 1 Album (Friday) | Day 2 Album (Saturday) | Day 3 Album (Sunday)

After two weekends, 330,000 attendees and over 10 million unique live stream viewers, Ultra Music Festival officially celebrated its biggest, most successful year yet in 2013. And I’ve got to say, I had set my expectations relatively low. After attending in 2011 at Bicentennial Park, I thought the festival had a lot to offer but it was also incredibly chaotic. After watching the live stream in 2012 I braced myself in 2013 for an onslaught of bros, stereotypical candy ravers, and hearing a lot of the same songs by many different DJs. Ok so maybe I experienced all of those things last weekend but they were in relatively small doses causing me to focus on more important things. Let me just say this: it was a huge being invited down to Miami to be part of the press covering Ultra. To the folks both at Ultra and at MSOPR we are incredibly thankful, as Brian describes in his editorial on the road to Ultra.

There is no question Ultra remains one of the premier music festivals in the world, whether you’re including multi-genre events like Bonnaroo and Coachella or dance-only events like Creamfields and EDC. In fact, we had friends who had planned to only attend WMC/MMW events and ended up buying tickets for Ultra while they were down there – they just couldn’t stay away. And there’s no question as to why: some of the best electronic artists in the world coming together in one place at one time. Is Big Room House your thing? No problem, they’ve got you covered over at the main stage. Want to get deep and funky? Head to the Carl Cox or Toolroom Knights stages. Want to catch some live instrumentation or perhaps to run some Trap? The Live and Trapped stages have you covered, respectfully. And let me also say that Bayfront Park is a much more organized, clean (no dust), and sun-protected venue than Bicentennial so that in itself was a positive aspect. Let me just say this again: the venue of Bayfront Park strongly added to my enjoyment of Ultra this year and it would be a horrible move to relocate anywhere else next year.

Click through to read more and to hear some sounds!

Carl Cox Ultra
Experiencing Carl Cox in his megastructure was easily one of the highlights of Ultra 2013

2013 is the year I tried to go off the beaten path and make some new discoveries, but to also check out the guys who were tried and true that didn’t play the same bullshit as everyone else (sorry Zedd but I’m looking at you). I spent a lot of time at the Carl Cox megastructure this year. I am now a believer. I never really understood what the hype was all about in regards to the British native, but holy shit when you see him in person, in a tent of that size, with as much sound wattage and bass as there was – words cannot describe. You have to witness it for yourself. In that tent we not only had the pleasure of witnessing Cox himself, but we also got to witness legends in Sven Vath, Luciano, and of course Cirez D (Eric Prydz’s Techno alias).

As far as the main stage is concerned, we kept our exposure low. We made sure to catch all of Eric Prydz’s set, which was epic as always, and Calvin Harris ended up being the surprise of the weekend with a truly wicked and hard-hitting hour. But at the same time there was no time for the cheese of Avicii, Tiesto, or Swedish House Mafia on our schedules (although earlier sets from Dirty South, Sander Van Doorn, Thomas Gold, and even the Bingo Players (who I’m so sick of at this point) were all fantastic in their own ways). I’m upset we missed Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, but I’m glad they’re starting to gain the recognition they deserve by receiving a Main Stage slot.

The little things:

  • Ultra introduced free water refill stations this year. Hard to believe it took them 15 years to do this, but it’s always better late than never
  • Eco Village. This was a small stage set up on the main walking path between the side stages (Live, Trapped, Carl Cox, etc) and the Main Stage. It acted like a feature stage that shined light on up-and-coming artists and was strategically placed as a way for passersby to stop and experience something new. It became a running joke between Brian and me that we’d have to account for spare time to get sucked into the Eco stage on our way to/from the Main Stage. But we experienced some truly awesome Electro-House as well as some Deep House and it was 100% worth our time. We wish those featured artists the best of luck in furthering their careers!
  • Shade. There was a healthy dose of it and that is essential for three-day music festivals in the heat
  • After-parties. Again, no shortage of events to attend before, during, or after Ultra. We were fortunate enough to attend the Miami Noize party at Therapy on Saturday night and had an absolute blast. I got to say what up to Mr. Noize himself (Alex Ridha) as well as Beni G from Jack Beats who were both unexpected guests at Therapy. If we could have been at multiple places at once we absolutely would have but unfortunately that’s the way the cookie crumbles. We hope everyone had a great time during the Miami Music Week parties.
  • Staff, security, dancers, PR firms, fellow photographers, fellow bloggers, and everyone we met continued to be extremely nice as well as the artists being humble themselves. Everyone is down in Miami to have a good time and to party to awesome music so what’s the point in being a dick?

I could go on in my review about Ultra 2013, but chances are you’ve probably read it or heard it somewhere else. We could pretend we’re another music blog and make lists upon lists of different facets of Ultra, such as the Top 10 reasons we [won’t] miss Swedish House Mafia, or the Top 10 things you need to do to prepare for Ultra 2014, but we don’t see the point in nonsense like that. Personally I’m now a believer in guys like Carl Cox, Sven Vath, Luciano, and Wally Lopez as well as reinforced by guys like Dirty South, Calvin Harris, UZ, Thomas Gold, and Mark Knight.

Hit us up with comments, enjoy these selected sets, and see you at the next festival!

UZ Ultra 2013

To hear more sets, check out all of Weekend 2 HERE… or as much as we could grab