DJ Lady Jane gives her take on the second day of Ultra madness
Every year, there’s an inevitable debate over which day of Ultra rocked the hardest. After five years attending the festival, I am confident that Saturday was the peak of Ultra intensity. I have a theory that Saturday is always the best day, with one night to ease the crowd back into the surrealism that is UMF, and not yet infected with the “farewell” melancholy that seems to permeate Sunday evening. By Saturday afternoon, the Ultra Virgins have been acclimated, and the rest of us are feeling like our better selves again. The fact that my favorite artists were all scheduled on Saturday was only icing on the cake.
I don’t care what anyone says about the Main Stage or Carl Cox & Friends, the Worldwide Stage is where it’s at. Every year. Maybe it’s the cohesion of the rotating national theme with an international hub like Miami and the wildly eclectic crowd, or perhaps it’s the incredible audio engineering that slams the dancing audience with bass, but something about this stage is far more live than the rest of the festival.
You can already tell I spent most of my day in front of the infamous Heineken tent (what better place to catch a surprise reunion with a long-lost friend from the most obscure abscess of memory?) and first up was Been Trill. A long time admirer of the internet culture trendsetter, I was excited to see a musical performance by the art collective doubles as a streetwear designer. The crowd bounced in the afternoon sunlight as the beats poured over the crowd. As I expected, the visualizers were filled with their hashtags and bloody typeface, pumping up the internet movement that brought them into the spotlight. Their heavy hood style was an excellent way to start the day at my favorite bass stage.
The crowd was warmed up for trap by the time Bro Safari came on around 6pm. The crowd was getting friendly as funny blowups were going around and Bro Safari kept the vibe alive with crazy trap. Everyone was bumping; the beach balls in the air could barely keep up. For less than five years in the public eye, Bro Safari has come a long way artistically and the size of their crowd was true affirmation of their Ultra arrival.
GTA took the stage with “Boy Oh Boy” ,but the crowd was already poised to devour any beat the duo dropped. The energy was so high, the air was light, despite the heavy humidity that loomed foreboding in the atmosphere. It seemed to add an edge that everyone was subconsciously aware of. Some gleefully anticipated evening showers while others dreaded the realities of unpredictable Miami weather.
We headed over to the Live Stage as Paul Kalkbrenner played the sun into the horizon and ushered in the second night of Ultra madness appropriately with his hit “Sky and Sand”. People relaxed in the vast auditorium surrounding the Live Stage and enjoyed the beautiful South Florida sunset that too many locals take for granted. Participating in a shared experience like Ultra where so many visitors gain appreciation not just for the music, but for this scenic city as well, must give us as residents pause to the blessings we are surrounded with daily. Deep, I know, that’s what happens when you steer me away from the trap stage. You’ve learned your lesson. Now let’s proceed.
After my sentimental sunset came to a close, I headed back to Ultra Worldwide just as DJ Snake was dropping the infamous “Bird Machine”. It was so dirty (in the best sense of the word, duh), everyone was dropping it low and, without warning, an intense mosh pit broke out. I won’t comment on who started it...but my crew might have had something to do with it. It was so refreshing to see people breaking loose in public; even if it wasn’t the most civil display, it’s not something you come across everyday to see adults truly playing. I believe it’s vital to expose oneself to genuine silliness on a regular basis, and what better place to do it than on the Worldwide dancefloor? It was officially Saturday night at Ultra, and you better believe nobody was holding anything back. The festival was in full swing and everybody felt perfectly at home.
RL Grime played an integral role in the Worldwide lineup’s 9-10pm slot. Bridging the gap from daytime acts to nighttime headliners, the pressure was on to keep the crowd engaged for two more hours. In my experience, this is the easiest time slot to lose the crowd to a different stage. the last thing you want as a DJ is to take the stage as the crowd is dissipating and making alternative plans for the rest of the night. Not to worry, the NY based DJ is well-versed with a Miami crowd and easily transitioned into his set with “Pockets” and the crowd was instantly at his command. Mixing his electro style with hip-hop funk, Henry Steinway represented himself well and surely boosted his cred just in time for his debut Coachella performance coming up this summer.
I always say the last two sets of the night are what it’s really all about; there’s no way to narrow it down to just the closing act. That’s especially true when the second to last act is Flosstradamus. With ample crowd favorites to pick from, Floss sprayed the adoring fans with a medley of his best. Starting of course with “Mosh Pit”, the crowd cheerfully obliged (and I yet again found myself the only female in the pit, what a surprise). The entire floor rocked as Floss busted out “Rollup” and again, many obliged (no comment). While surely impressive, the visuals are not what anyone was focused on. Flosstradamus was successful at creating a community among the crowd, which held all the way through till the end of the night as Dillon Francis carried everyone out.
After a full day of intense trap at the Worldwide Stage, Dillon Francis sauntered onto the stage in partnership with the crowd, giving looks of confidence and readiness to different sections as though communicating with them and prepping us for the show he was about to deliver. After many times seeing Dillon Francis, cynicism should come easily and yet, I have none. Some things never get old and this year, Dillon Francis is one of them. The energy was so high, it felt as though the clock had turned back an hour...or four. As the tones of “I.D.G.A.F.O.S.” hung over the crowd, you could feel everyone dancing with gusto, as if they forgot that we couldn’t push straight into Day 3. In all my years at Ultra (I sound old), I have never seen a crowd so energized at the end of Day 2 and I applaud the all the Worldwide DJs for keeping the energy alive through till the last day of the festival.
As a transplant to Miami from South West FL, the gratitude I feel for living in the host city of Ultra Fest will never wear off. I feel responsible as a local to support the festival that brings so much identity and young culture to South Florida; significance on the international music scene is not something to be taken for granted and it is always a thrill to participate in the process of putting Miami on the map as a major music market. I look forward to many more years of great music, chill vibes, and everything that Ultra Music Festival will become.