It’s time to look back at the weekend and go over the highlights and lowlights of Ultra Music Festival 2017.
Sunday night, Ultra Music Festival let downtown know that its three-day party was over with a fireworks display at the end of DJ Snake’s set on the main stage. Condo dwellers breathed a sigh of relief knowing they would finally be free once again to roam the city.
The overlooked Live Stage had its share of notable moments this weekend, but there was none more invigorating or impressive than Justice’s closing set. Justice’s new live show took the admittedly impressive moving parts of the Carl Cox tent and ground them down into a focused, more impactful display. The electro-house duo’s mix was an hourlong flurry of surprise .
As far as Ultra fashion goes, flags from around the world have been as commonplace as body glitter and nipple pasties. Still, this year, there seemed to be an inordinate number of flags. Canada, Chile, Mexico, Japan, Sweden, the UK, and many, many other nations were represented. One can’t help but wonder if this upswing in national pride is a reflection of what’s happening in the world as conservative politicians steadily rise in power both in America and across Europe.
The Live Stage
Ultra announced the lineup this year and the 7Up stage was not listed, it was definitely good news. For years, that location has led an all-out audio assault on all others, with the Live Stage taking the brunt. However, this year, Ultra kept 7Up clear of performances. It served only as a link between the Live, Worldwide, and Main Stages.
For better or worse, the torrential downpour that defined Saturday evening and the light trickle of Sunday afternoon afforded Ultra an opportunity to promote its own brand — not that it’s needed — and make a little extra money on the side in the form of poncho sales for $5 apiece. They were necessary, they were widespread, and they’ll no doubt be remembered as a defining feature of this year’s festival.
The Resistance Brand
Whether it’s Ultra’s attempt at future-proofing itself to the turning tides against EDM or just an expansion of its global empire, there’s no doubt that the sub-brand Resistance has been Ultra’s most ingenious offering. What debuted in 2015 as a single stage has now taken over two stages at the flagship event. Resistance also has a presence at Ultra’s other global events.
The Not So Good
Donald Trump’s Presence
Trump is the president of the United States of America — he’s in the news a lot. Trump is a serial liar, an admitted sex offender, and an easily manipulated blowhard whose decisions carry significant weight not only for Americans but also for the world. One of the great many things about festivals like Ultra is the opportunity to experience a positive and safe release from the stresses and worries of day-to-day life. His presence at Ultra, whether in the form of questionably ironic vaporwave tees or “Make America Rave Again” hats, was deeply unsettling.
Since Ultra ramped up security a couple of years ago after the infamous incident that injured a security guard, gate-crashing hasn’t been much of an issue. But Sunday night, at the tail end of the festival, a cheeky spider monkey of a man, shirtless and amped up, tried to run past security to hop the fence near the UMF Radio Stage. He was met by hard concrete and cold steel as a team of cops tackled and cuffed him almost immediately.
Ultra shipped a free pair of earplugs to everyone who purchased a ticket. Younger festivalgoers’ naked ears were exposed to decibels that could lead to permanent hearing loss. Also notably absent was the University of Miami Health System, which provided free plugs and education on the effects of repeated exposure to loud noise.
Were there fewer toilets? It sure felt like it. The queues seemed longer, and an entire section of porta-potties near the main stage, just behind the main thoroughfare, at last year’s fest was nonexistent this year. That meant the closest options were next to the Carl Cox Megastructure or near the Arcadia Spider stage.
The Oasis and Biscayne “Stages”
Inside the main merchandise complex, next to the Heineken pop-up, was a stage for DJs. While salespeople were busy trying to do their jobs, a man pumped loud-as-fuck music into their faces, causing some jittery fans to break out into dance while waiting in line. This was your Oasis “Stage.” Outside, directly across from the exit to the festival, was a small, depressing stage hidden by a pizza stand and overshadowed by the gargantuan Main Stage. Anything DJs played on this tiny stage sounded tinny and pathetic as they got drowned out by David Guetta’s terrible remixes. Please, Ultra, make them go away, and we’ll pretend they never happened. Promise.
Still, it’s an impressive feat that a festival of Ultra’s size can come together in such an organized fashion in a small park. Over the years, law enforcement has really improved the experience for everyone attending and made the experience for nearby residents a little less painful.