A completely sold-out Ultra Music Festival saw its most memorable show to-date this past weekend at Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami with the celebration of its landmark 20th anniversary. Swedish House Mafia, Will Smith, Above & Beyond, Halsey, Desiigner and Yo Gotti were just a few of the surprise performers that captivated 165,000 attendees from over 60 countries around the globe and our friend Andrew Lazar tapped into the memories that recapped this intense weekend.
Thousands of partiers descended into Downtown Miami to take part in this year’s Ultra Music Festival. Ninety firefighters and paramedics were also on hand. Some are on foot and some are riding all-terrain and rescue vehicles, so they can quickly respond to emergencies. Friday night, police said they have made several arrests, but they had all been for minor drug offenses.
Back in 2012, I experienced Ultra Music Festival for the first time and fell in love with the festival. The Arcadia Spider and Live Stage featured some of the best, most unique performances at this years festival.
When doors opened on Friday, attendees found themselves in utter chaos as there was a flood of people moving into the barricades to get through the entrance. Many attendees stood in line for more than two hours trying to enter the event. Getting into Ultra Music Festival felt more like the Hunger Games.
After getting through, the first thing you see is the Ultra Worldwide stage as attendees walked through the gates. For the 20th Anniversary, the stages that truly had a huge makeover were the Megastructure and the Main Stage.
The Main Stage was massive. Walking up close you could see the use of water elements that were used during special performances, while at night it consistently shot off fireworks.
Should you ever find yourself at Ultra Music Festival, be prepared: your Shazam will be useless. Artists attending Ultra tend to drop their newest tracks at the event to test them out. During Sunday’s ASOT takeover at the Megastructure, almost every single artist there dropped one ID or more.
Other than artists hitting attendees with waves of IDs, some artists opted to bring special guests and performers for their sets. The Chainsmokers brought out Halsey and a live band to close out the main stage on Saturday, while Marshmello brought out a slew of performers including Slushii, Yo Gotti, G-Eazy, and Lil Uzi Vert. His most surprising guest of the night was Will Smith who came out to sing his hit song, “Miami”. Even Kaskade brought out Charlotte Lawrence to sing their new song, “Cold As Stone.”
After much speculation and with anticipation at fever pitch, Swedish House Mafiareunited with a surprise performance to close the Main Stage and the festival on Sunday night. The historic reunion came almost five years to the day after the groups’ farewell performance at Ultra Music Festival in 2013.
Over the last few years there have been whispers about Ultra potentially needing to move out of the park, especially with Miami residents forcing out hip-hop festival Rolling Loud which has taken place at Bayfront Park over the last two years. From Ultra’s perspective, they would prefer to keep the festival right in the heart of downtown Miami – something that separates it from a majority of other major festivals – and even hosted city of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell on Friday to show what an asset the festival has become for the city.
In any case, with the location and dates already confirmed for 2019, any opposition from the Downtown Neighbors Alliance, one of the major drivers behind Rolling Loud’s removal from the park, may have to look ahead to 2020 to potentially dislodge Ultra.