Check it, this is what your girl Christina did at Ultra! Between manning the WVUM lounge (that was a great success, thanks to all who came by!) I got to see Lotus, Pretty Lights, Disco Biscuits, Rabbit in the Moon (weird), Bassnectar (in the dome!), Glitch Mob (killed it!), Skream (pullin’ out gats for FUN!), Bloody Beetroots (Live), Infected Mushroom, Ghostland Observatory (so sick!!), Sander van Doorn, and Pendulum! All the music was GREAT, production this year was insane! The main stage was officially the biggest stage I’ve ever seen, EVER. Nice background videos. The Dome was so hyphy, with jungle gyms and everything. Saw so many good friends and smiling faces! I’m already looking forward to next year’s 3 day bash!Friday “Sh*t. I just ruined Ultra,” I thought, as Johnny, standing in the pouring rain, yelled to me about the gates being closed a half hour ago. It was 2:30PM, Ultra Music Festival Day 1, 2010. I had just made a wrong turn into the Port of Miami with a car full of exotic preparations for the “WVUM lounge”we had planned for Ultra. But alas, we were too late, as the vendor gates had closed and the festival gates themselves were nearly open.
Desperate, I boldly pulled my car up in front of the closed gates, yelled something about how I was a vendor [disclaimer: wvum is not a vendor] and began frantically emptying the contents of my car on to the curb. Luckily Stella, the amazingly patient vendor coordinator, came up on her golf cart and asked who I was with. “WVUM ” I told her, an apologetic but frantic look on my face. Prompted by incessant honking, whistles, and outright commands that I move my car, I left the boys with Stella and the stuff, and navigated through the mind-boggling traffic to park my car.
Fast forward 3 golf cart rides with Stella (THANK YOU!) and I’m finally at our tent. The initial team, Jonny, Kevin and I, argued about table placement for 30 minutes. It was a bad reality episode of Battle of the Sexes, in which the contestants have to set up the best disco lounge in Ultra in under 20 minutes. In the end, they won and the table was placed behind the seating area instead of at the front of the tent (which worked out great, as you all saw). Disco ball, Christmas lights, candy bowl- everything was falling into place just as we heard a familiar “THUMP THUMP THUMP” coming from one of the 8 stages. Someone informed me that LMFAO was on, someone will have to let me know how that was...I unfortunately missed DJ SpinnZinn’s set in the UMF Collective Tent, but I heard he did fantastic; got to stay on longer than he was supposed to, and will most certainly be headlining Ultra next year.
Once everything at the lounge was under control, I ran over to the Bayfront Live Stage for a band I was proud to see on the lineup- Lotus The band has evolved their melodic, instrumental sound to incorporate more electronic samples and I thought they were a perfect early evening show for Ultra, getting the energy up. Pretty Lights came on next, both members in high spirits and obviously stoked to be at Ultra. The huge crowd that had gathered could only have helped the excitement: Derek is fueled by his fans’ energy, and everyone was all engines GO! True to form, he delivered a soul-shaking set. While the new stuff fits right in with the already extensive library of compilations, it’s his classics that now stand out most. When he broke into “Finally Moving” the crowd became his choir. “OOOOhhhOOOO Sometimes I get a good feeling yeah ” we cheered, and felt that it would be a good Ultra.
Up next for me was the Disco Biscuits, and there was certainly no time for a bathroom break. Familiar faces were all elated to see Bisco do Ultra. By then everyone knew that Jon, “the Barber”, broke is wrist merely 2 weeks before, and that Chris Michetti of RAQ and Tom Hamilton of Brothers Past were charged with the feat of temporarily replacing him. They opened up with a new song off of “Planet Anthem” and it was clear from the beginning that Chris and Tom, perhaps intimidated by the whole situation, would need to be supported by the rest of the band. They kept each song much shorter and controlled than typical, but they weren’t working with much time. The Orch Theme, into the Great Abyss, and into a totally modulated Digital Buddha (Chromeo style) were all great... but not GREAT. DJ Med’A found me somewhere at the beginning of Orch Theme, and a dream came true for me as I realized we were raging Biscuits together. They ended it with a pretty solid “On Time,” one of the catchier tunes from the new album.
I left the show in high spirits and headed back to the WVUM lounge, where people were, well, LOUNGING It was beautiful! The crowd at Ultra this year was great, and for having sold out the venue, everyone got along remarkably well. Something in the music just kept a smile plastered on our faces and a wobble in our step the entire weekend. Anyone that I saw running into trouble was well taken care of by friends or medics, and I’d like to think we did a little part with the WVUM lounge- a respite for many. I ran into many people I knew from in town and out, and much love to my partners in crime Jess Dugan and Kevin, and Murph and Fred, and the whole WVUM crew that repped it harrrrd.
I caught the end of Infected Mushroom, and it was wild and weird and awesome. They played some stuff off of their new album, but also some classic Infected Mushroom. We decided to walk through the crazy huge dome on the hill at one point, and Bassnectar was on. He layed down some serious west coast dubstep like I hadn’t heard him do in a while. It was really deep, heavy and vibrated everything from the ribcage to the scaffolding of the dome. It probably could have brought the whole dome and jungle gyms (yes, there were jungle gyms) down were they not rage-proofed. Overheated and satiated, I went to wait for Rabbit in the Moon 3D because I missed it last year and heard it was crazy.
It was weird. I got into it in the beginning, but the 3D glasses had a minimal cool effect. The only thing jumping out at me though was Rabbit himself, once in a bubble, and once as a “glowstick” sacrifice. There was a cool contortionist girl with hoop dress, and I was really digging the confetti explosions, but I didn’t really get the deeper message there. And I think they played “I’m Your Drug” last year, too.
The night ending much too soon, it was time to pack up the lounge. Franky was charged with getting his car through the mind-boggling traffic back into the grounds, and that was not accomplished until 1:30AM. Luckily Grand Central, the new live music venue, was only 4 blocks away. That night was the highly anticipated Tractorbeam show- the Disco Biscuits sans lyrics. The line wrapped around the block and after much shuffle and bustle at the door (door kinks still being worked out at Grand Central), we made it in around 2AM JUST in time for the second song, Mirrors. I excitedly remembered that Tractorbeam meant no singing, and the cheesy lyrics were not an issue! Chris and Tom finally seemed comfortable, and they killed it I’d like to think they gave Barber a chance to step back and remember classic Bisco songs like Confrontation and Home Again in a classic Bisco way. The jams were upbeat and melodic, and the transitions almost seamless. Even Allen seemed to chill out a bit and let the magic happen on the drums. To hear what I’m talking about, go to www.livedownloads.com, search Tractorbeam, and download that ish for FREE :D Tank you, Disco Biscuits, for finally coming down to Miami and bringing it despite the circumstances! Saturday
Being that I didn’t get home until 6 AM, [insert story for another time here], DJ Med’A kindly took over my set up duties for Ultra Music Festival Day 2, 2010. When I got there, WVUM lounge was looking even better than the first day and spirits were high. Bodies were being painted, and 1 out of 10 girls was wearing a free WVUM/American Apparel bra. The sun shone bright. Before I headed over to the Biscayne Stage for a dose of durrty, durrty dubstep, Med’A insisted we come check out the UMF Brazil Arena, new territory in my book.
We caught most of Sander Van Doorn’s awesome set with sexy girls dancing. He was an adorable figure smiling at the crowd, giving us the spirit fingers to signal he was about to melt our faces. I was thoroughly impressed at the set, surprised even at how much I was enjoying the techno house stuff. We danced and made merry and made a great friend in the crowd!
The Glitch Mob on the Biscayne stage was next, and that was one of my favorite sets at Ultra. Glitch Mob consists of three guys on sample pads that they play like drumming- they beat down the drum samples with drum sticks and “glitch” together sounds at their fingertips. I was totally part of the Glitch Gang.
Skream took the stage before I had time to leave, but he came out with such amazing energy and Benga as his MC was getting the crowd super hype, and the sample to his first mix yelled “PULLIN OUT GATS FOR FUN ” and we all got to pretend to shoot guns and feel super badass so I stayed. Skream brought pure awesome dubstep, and lived up to his status as one of the genre’s founders. Towards the end of his set, he broke into his remix of La Roux’s “In For The Kill,” and I had a moment. I’ve been playing that song on WVUM for a while now.
Bloody Beetroots LIVE was the next show I wanted to catch. Last year I caught their DJ set and was blown away, and this year they would be doing the live show with instruments and singing. I didn’t even realize I liked music that hardcore, but they delivered a fresh mix of screaming into mics and dropping crazy bass. There was classical music on the keyboards and all of it was fabulously orchestrated. I couldn’t stay long, as I had to return to the lounge, but I hope to see Bloody Beetroots in Miami again soon.
After working a short shift, I caught Pendulum, a classic name in drum and bass. Again I found myself raging to hardcore music and loving it. There’s just something about drum and bass that grabs you, and Pendulum brought a fresh sound with a feel that they knew what they were doing. Keep your ears peeled for their new album.
The first 5 minutes of Deadmau5 confirmed my suspicions that he wouldn’t live up to Ultra headliner status, and I was unwilling to give him any longer. After I got to see him clap off beat to his own mix, and then I walked away. Familiar faces awaited at the Bayfront Live Stage for Ghostland Observatory. I had no idea what I was in for, and Ghostland definitely brought the heat with their weird disco fusion sound. They had one of the best light shows on the Bayfront Live Stage all weekend; The only song I recognized was “Sad City,” a favorite on WVUM, but I liked everything I heard. Their 40 minute set left us wanting more, and I hope to see them return to Ultra next year with a bigger slot.
When the cords were pulled unceremoniously right at midnight, we could all hardly believe it was over. We walked back towards the tent sadly, but heard the announcer on the Main Stage say “THREE DAYS ” signaling the epic extension of Ultra that had already been decided on for next year. Stragglers gathered at the WVUM tent where we lounged and complained that it was over until we were told by security it was time to pack up. The only word that came to my mind: SUCCESS. Everything about that weekend, for everyone, seemed to be a great success.
The next day, I went to the Ultra website and looked at the comments for the blog entry “ULTRA SELLS OUT.” I’ve never seen more enthusiastic comments for a music festival. Lives were changed. One kid even went out and got an Ultra tattoo the next day. Now that’s epic.
This, in FCC appropriate fashion, summarizes my Ultra experience. If you read this far, THANKS! After further discussion with friends in the week after, I realized there was SO MUCH more to see that I didn’t catch I heard Green Velvet was awesome, wish I’d seen more of Carl Cox, Sasha and Digweed, Orbital, and Caspa. I didn’t see hardly anything on the main stage, but it was the biggest stage I’d ever seen. I’d also love to hear from you guys what you loved most at Ultra, so leave some comments And if you came by the WVUM lounge, tell us about it We love you Miami!
Friends at Sander van Doorn