Ultra Music Festival 2014 is officially over, but the memories are still alive. With the UMF live stream breaking records and the event and its performers trending worldwide on Twitter and Facebook, picking the ten best moments of the festival seems impossible but we have managed to compile our list based upon our favorites and our readers’ reactions.
Aly & Fila b2b John O’Callahgan
With A State of Trance (ASOT) becoming a permanent fixture of Ultra Miami, each year the lineup is nothing short of amazing. Fans at Ultra this year were treated to the back-to-back set from Fadi Wassef Naguib of Aly & Fila and John O’ Callaghan. Together the duo stuck to the origins of trance by crafting a set full of uplifting, heart pounding anthems. While many of the other performers played recognizable tracks, this special b2b set comprised of high-bpm, underrated yet satisfying trance songs. This set was one of the most refreshing and interesting of the weekend, presenting majority of the attendees with pure uplifting trance music.
2014 has been nothing short of huge for DJ Snake, with ‘Turn Down For What’ topping the charts and scoring residencies at the biggest clubs in the world. It’s safe to say after his performance at Ultra that the Parisian DJ/producer shows no signs of slowing down. Playing to an overflowing Ultra Worldwide stage audience, William Grigahcine threw out hit after hit and the crowd was ecstatic. Ultra also gave Snake the chance to debut a few new ID’s in which the crowd appreciated.
What was the big talking point was when he capped off his set with a very interesting song choice: the late Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You. A risky yet memorable closing track, he express his appreciation for Ultra with one of the greatest love songs of all-time. Regardless of genre, the song served as a very heartwarming ending to highly-energy set.
No stranger to Ultra is the king of techno Carl Cox. Hosting the Carl Cox and Friends arena for over 10 years now, he brings some of the best DJs in the techno world to play with him. This year saw the lineup include the likes of Marco Carola, Luciano, Pete Tong, and more.
The big man himself filled the closing sloth both Friday and Saturday nights which is a slot he usually gives to another DJ. Opening his second set, Cox reinforced the one key principle of techno that the party never stops – “Here’s to ten more years!”
Sub Focus Live
Whilst Sunday evening saw the big acts like Hardwell, Fedde Le Grande and Paul Van Dyk close out the festival, the live stage hosted a hidden gem. Sub Focus brought his full live show to Miami for the first time ever and what better way to showcase it with an amphitheater full of excited bass-heads.
The British producer was in his element as he took the stage at 10pm, shortly after Chase and Status set the bar high with an extremely energetic performance. Opening with his signature goosebumps-inducing track Torus, the crowd was sent into a frenzy and the show was on the road. Unlike the Saturday night which was storm interrupted, the clear sky and impressive light show went down a treat with fans. Whether you had never heard of Sub Focus before or you had been a fan for years, Nick Douwma threw down a set for all ears. Powering through his set, he performed the perfect mixture of his new album and his earlier classic works. Tunes such as ‘Endorphins’, ‘Turn It Around’, ‘Tidal Wave’ and ‘Until The End’ went down as new-album crowd favourites, while ‘Rock It’, ‘Timewarp’ and ‘Falling Down’ had the older fans up raging hard.
For a live act, Sub Focus live was the perfect choice to close the festival.
It’s fair to say the duo comprised of Diplo and Skrillex performed the most energetic set of Ultra 2014; it had it all!
Playing live for only the second time and as their first premier festival performance, the duo took to the crowded main-stage on the final afternoon. There was no die-off periods throughout this set, it was hard hitting from start to finish. With a set that features the duo’s own classics to the pulsing IDs, Jack U uncompromisingly decimated the Ultra main stage.
Favourite parts of their set came from the antics of Diplo and Skrillex themselves. The level of interaction with the crowd kept this set rolling and before we knew it, it was already over!
The cardio-filled set including a collection of people jumping rope on stage, a gigantic circle pit in the crowd filled with break-dancers and jumping around of not only Diplo and Skirllex but fellow Major Lazer members on stage too.
Dannic b2b Dyro b2b Hardwell
The second night of Ultra was under severe threat as a thunderstorm with Gail-force winds rolled into the down-town precinct of Miami. Revealed recordings rising star Dannic had taken to the UMF Radio stage and a mere 10 minutes in, was forced to end early due to the weather. After leaving the festival Dannic received a call to “return to the stage asap, they are re-opening it”. After returning, the bleak crowd was all that remained for young Dannic. To his aid, Revealed recordings boss Hardwell and fellow rising star Dyro joined Dannic on stage for a special 3-way back-to-back set.
With Dyro intended to take over after Dannic’s assigned time slot, the trio decided to to take the full two-hours to treat the fans to something special. Within 20 minutes, the UMF Radio stage had flooded with fans who ran from all across the festival to witness something truly special.
On the Thursday (eve of the fesitval) headline act Avicii was hospitalized and rumours quickly spread as to who would be replacing his closing Saturday night set. Ultimately, Ultra was forced to find a big-name DJ and quick.
Thankfully Deadmau5 was in Miami at the time and agreed to fill in for the Swede and much the critic of the festival in the past, Deadmau5 went on to play a set which balanced unheard techno tracks with many new songs which will be featured on his upcoming artist album.
There was always going to be speculation as to what Deadmau5 would perform. His beef with Ultra promoters in the past led some patrons to believe he wouldn’t take the set seriously, whilst other believed he would put on a mind-blowing set. You could say it was a perfect mix of both.
During the middle of this set, Joel walked to the front of the stage while Ghost in the Shell transitioned into Martin Garrix’s ‘Animals.’ As he danced his way back behind the decks, much of the crowd were confused 4by his track selection. Exclaiming “Fuck yeah!” right before the drop, the track turned out to be the hilarious ‘Funnymals’ edit by McMaNGOS; a remix which morphs the drop into the tune of ‘Old MacDonald Had A Farm’
He continued to troll the crowd as he mixed the acapella of his hit song “Ghosts N’ Stuff” with Avicii’s song “Levels.” Eventually returning back to his regular set, Deadmau5 played out his iconic hits such as ‘Arguru’, ‘Cthulhu Sleeps’, ‘Raise Your Weapon’ and closing the night off with Tommy Trash’s remix of ‘The Veldt’.
Above & Beyond
As Saturday night of Ultra progressed, a severe thunderstorm descended upon downtown Miami which threatened to close the festival early. With the live stream being turned off and stages being shut down temporarily fans were waiting on the dreaded news that the festival would be finishing early. When the rain eased, the crowd found the trance group Above & Beyond with their backs to the crowd as their equipment had moved under the stage’s covering.
However, the setup did not seem to bother the crowd; with the cheers erupting as they churned through euphoric hit after hit. While the rain continued throughout their entire set, the group intended to liven the spirits of the rain-soaked crowd by playing ‘Sun and Moon’. With the lyrics that strongly contrast the muggy weather, it somewhat seemed appropriate and had the crowd screaming the words whilst they danced. While other acts would have called off their set, Above & Beyond battled through the rain and came out the true winners of the day.
After a playing a high-energetic set in the rain on Saturday night, Armin van Buuren paired with Benno De Goeij of Rank 1 for the live world premiere of Gaia during ASOT 650. Wearing large cloaks which covered their faces, the duo incorporated little production to emphasize their high-BPM trance selections. Compiling a set filled with Armin and Gaia’s classic tracks, Gaia produced the constant energy of trance as seen in the earlier Aly & Fila b2b John O’Callahgan set.
By playing as anonymous figures with zero crowd engagement, the crowd had to harness the energy of the music. This type of interaction is exactly the opposite to majority of the superstar DJ’s that played Ultra. Gaia shattered the conceptions of crowd involvement and proved that people can use music as their sole guiding basis of enjoyment for a live set.
The highly anticipated world premier of Eric Prydz’s HOLO production faced some technical difficulties that would prevent its full impact. Despite this, Prydz managed to deliver the greatest performance of Ultra 2014 and one of the greatest in Ultra’s history. With mind-blowing production that showcased lasers and lights usally only seen in European fesitvals, the set saw Prydz unleash the perfect progressive house performance.
As anticipation built for the world premiere of Eric Prydz’s HOLO production, the Swedish DJ learned that technical difficulties would prevent HOLO from coming to its full fruition. Despite the hang-ups, Prydz manned the main stage to deliver one of the greatest performances of Ultra history. With production that showcased lasers and lights usually only seen in European festivals, the set saw Prydz unleashing a perfect vision of progressive house.
From an edit of the classic ‘Pjanno’, the newly acclaimed ‘Liberate’, the roaring ‘Bauerpost / Powedrive’ mashup to the tons of ID’s debuted; Prydz chose to remain true to the spirit of progressive house. Transitioning tracks in and out of each other as though the entire set was one hour-long track, the man didn’t hold back. The production was the most extravagent ever seen at Ultra with Lasers illuminating shades of red, blue, green, and everything color in between. Spiraled patterns that often proved to be almost too bright for the human eye, Fire, CO2 blasters, fireworks – this set had the lot.
The fact that music without overused drops still managed to inspire the crowd and proved that the greatest artists remain true despite the short-lived trends that were demonstrated in other sets. Prydz’s set understood the fact that humans live to dance and share a moment in time and without set a benchmark for which all other DJs must now follow. A new level and experience indeed.