Ultra Music Festival makes it an annual habit of showing the world what it means to party in Miami, Florida. Although the festival takes over the heart of downtown and the sprawling green of Bayfront Park, the week-long festivities spill out into the streets, the hotels, and the city life beyond. High-end clubs like LIV and Story swell with lineups consisting of either the festival’s headliners or outside top-level talent favoring their own parties. Fools Good, HARD Miami, Red Bull Guest House, and Hard 2 Leave are names now synonymous with the festival brand. Yet none ever eclipse the main event.
This year, the world-renowned festival celebrated its 17th anniversary with the type of shindig we’ve come to expect, which raises the question: When did fans decide they wanted to trade in acts like Justice, Kraftwerk, or The Prodigy for a revolving lineup of the same ol’, same ol’? Tiësto, Avicii, Afrojack, members of the now-defunct Swedish House Mafia, and the oft-parodied David Guetta have all topped the festival in recent years to expected success. The days when Ultra once wowed festivalgoers with its billing seem long gone. It’s depressing.
Also depressing is the devastating blow the festival suffered on its first day this year. Thanks to South Florida’s trademark weather conditions, a majority of the stages were shut down, forcing highly anticipated acts such as Odesza and Chromeo to cancel their Ultra debuts. And while Carl Cox, UMF World, and the Main Stage remained open despite the harsh downpour, the majority of the sets were either shortened or completely cancelled. In light of these matters, this year’s coverage of Ultra Music Festival attempted to capture the “criminally under-appreciated” performances.