Well friends, it’s that time of year again. With Ultra Music Festival (UMF) just around the corner, I find myself contemplating it’s three-day line-up. Wondering just who exactly I’d be seeing if I were to find myself in Miami this weekend.
It’s the big names that always garner the most attention. As is the case with most line-ups. The bolded and highlighted DJ’s at the top of the card are the big players in the EDM game. They’re the names that sell the tickets, bring the people (in 2012, there was a record breaking 55,000 people in attendance at UMF) and spread the hype.
There’s the DJ’s that you just come to expect at a festival of this stature: Trance and Progressive trio Above & Beyond, Dutch superstar and Musical Freedom honcho Tiesto, Swedish House Mafia’s Steve Angello and so on and so forth. It’s usually these big name cats that bring out the new fans – fresh, new enthusiasts just getting their feet wet in the scene.
However, for some of us whose feet are a little bit damper than others, these are exactly the names and stages we’re NOT looking for, or at least I’m not. With several years of festivals underneath my belt (Coachella and EDC Las Vegas included) I’ve learned a few things about (a)who it is I look for on any given line-up, and (b)who it is I decide to finally see when the big weekend arrives.
I’ve done the rushed half-jog’s in-between stages, racing back and forth all in a desperate attempt to see the major names. I’ve written out schedules and even set phone alarms. I’ve battled the masses and slithered my way through enough crowds to know that this frenzied pace only leaves you tired and worn out.
Sure, my favorites I’m always going to make time for. Any chance I get to see Mat Zo or Eric Prydz captivate a crowd of thousands with a set of epic proportions, I’m going to take it. There’s always going to be those big names that no matter what, you’ll make sure you’re there for. They’ll play your favorite tracks and you’ll be left to enjoy those moments of jaw-dropping euphoria. If I could take a $1000 and go back in time, I’d be right at the front of Porter Robinsons UMF set last year. I watched it on my laptop, in my sweaty little apartment and it was all I could do not to launch myself off my couch and kick step around my living room. But the race-around, trying to catch every headliner on every night does nothing but make you tired and it definitely doesn’t help you expand your musical horizons.
Instead, for those lucky enough to venture through the gates in Miami’s Bayfront Park this Friday, I recommend a less hurried and more open-minded set of principles. I recommend taking some time to not only check out someone you’ve never seen before, but maybe even sauntering over to a set from a name you may have never heard of before too. Be creative, be open to new sounds and be willing to explore different genres. Had I not wandered off to try some new jams at Coachella a few years back, I would never have caught the (in my eyes) legendary and soul-gripping set from Trentemoller.
If it were me cruising around Ultra this upcoming weekend, there’s some exciting names I’d be sure to see. Paper Diamond’s mix for Diplo and Friends on BBC Radio1 and 1Xtra in February was nothing short of stellar and I’d love to catch a glimpse of what he can do live. Deep House King Dusky is someone I’ve never had the chance to see and the Guest Mix he smashed out on Above & Beyond’s radio show ABGT in September was on repeat for weeks. Marco Carola, Maceo Plex, and Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano are all producers/DJ’s with those House-ey sunshine-like vibes that I think would feel just right coming off an Ultra stage. Gramatik, Example, and Netsky(live) are a few names I’d be sure to see if you’re wanting explore your funk, dub and Drum & Bass side. Lastly, Goldfish opened last year’s Ultra with a high energy, fresh sounding instrumental set that was refreshing and full of good vibes.
In the end, if you’re one of privileged many headed to Miami this weekend, I’d highly recommend avoiding the dreaded pigeon hole so many of us get caught up in – trying to catch the biggest names only so we can stamp our festival card with another superstar set.
Ultra’s an incredible opportunity to explore a variety of different sounds and to immerse yourself in the plethora of talent there is available to see. And as always, as I head to work for another weekend, I’ll be listening to satellite radio in my car wishing I would have just gotten myself a ticket. Maybe next year…
Article by: Kassie Mitchell
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