Another year, another Ultra Music Festival. I eagerly returned to Bayfront Park on March 23 to experience another one of my favorite festivals of the year. Just like the past year and years before that, Ultra Music Festival did not disappoint.
With a lineup boasting world-class talent, unbelievable production, and fans from around the world, Ultra is a lock for success. The 2017 installment was no different: featuring headliners like Major Lazer, Axwell /\ Ingrosso, GTA, Armin Van Buuren, DJ Snake and Justice, Ultra had a little something for every kind of fan in attendance.
Walking into the park for the first time on Friday afternoon was a rush of pure excitement and bliss. Every first glimpse of a stage brought a newfound delight for the rest of the weekend.
Friday kicked off with Don Diablo, a king of house music at the Main Stage. The weather was perfect, house music filled the surrounding air, and fans danced wildly into the afternoon. Later in the day, fans were graced with sets from Tchami, Armin Van Buuren, Alesso, Bro Safari, Feed Me, Gryffin, Zhu, and more.
Ultra always has a few surprises in store for the guests, and before Martin Garrix’s 9:55pm time slot, fans were greeted with a short Main Stage set from Kygo. The tropical house superstar was on for about 6 minutes, give or take. Nonetheless, the surprise guest appearance was super cool.
Major Lazer closed out Friday night with a live set on the Main Stage. Diplo, Walshy Fire and Jillionaire hit the crowd with classics like “Watch Out For This”, “Sound Bang” and “Lose Yourself.” Aside from their classic dancehall sound, Major Lazer brought some dirty, heavy beats into their set. The combination of feel-good tunes, filthy drops and even a guest appearance from Bunji Garlin made this closing set one for the books.
Saturday began with a chance of rain in the forecast, but given Miami weather, I brushed it off and left any sort of rain protection at home. The day started off with Frank Walker at the Main Stage. The mysterious artist played a hell of a set, and I knew the rest of the day was only going to get better and better.
The day carried on with acts from Sam Feldt, Martin Solveig, Joyryde, and more. Dash Berlin and Steve Aoki killed it at the Main Stage in the middle of the day. Aoki brought out a handful of special guests during his performance, including Louis Tomlinson of One Direction, and 2 Chainz. Then Tiësto came and took the stage for the sunset slot, and the rain came with him. The show carried on with no issues, but myself and thousands of others were drenched. Looking back, I must say it was pretty cool to party with Tiësto in the rain.
The rain didn’t stop there though: for the second time in their career at Ultra, Above & Beyond took to the Main Stage in the pouring rain. However, they did not have to perform with their backs to the crowd this year as they did in 2014. The trance mainstays gave a heartfelt and captivating set, despite the heavy rainfall.
Closing out Saturday night was Dubfire, Carl Cox, Mija (OWSLA’s special guest), Nicky Romero, The Prodigy, Adam Beyer and Afrojack. After jumping back and fourth between stages, I ended my night with a Swedish House ridden set from Axwell /\ Ingrosso at the Main Stage. By the end of the night, my hair and clothes still damp, I was happy and full on so many amazing sets from the day.
Sunday morning of Ultra is always emotional — I woke up tired and excited, yet conflicted all at once knowing it was my last day at Bayfront Park. I made it a point to get to the fest early to catch sets from Ruben De Ronde and David Gravell at the Megastructure. For you trance heads, these two artists are must-sees. Both Ruben and David brought down the house and left me wanting so much more.
I headed from the Megastructure to catch Showtek at the Main Stage — super different from trance, but exciting and fun nonetheless. Fedde Le Grand took the Main Stage after Showtek and graced the crowd with four brand new tracks, and kept the crowd moving the entire time.
The day continued with Galantis, Hardwell, Andrew Rayel, Rezz, Malaa, Mercer, Zedd, and more. Every moment of the evening held something new and exciting: from trance to dark techno to dubstep, Sunday killed it all around. Did I mention that Zedd brought out Alessia Cara for their hit track “Stay”? Yep, that amazingness happened.
I split the last hour of my Sunday between Justice and DJ Snake. To begin, I hit Justice and got to hear them perform their classics “D.A.N.C.E.” and “Genesis”. The duo put so much thought into their live performance, and looking back on the fest, I must admit it was one of my favorite sets from the weekend.
I ran over to DJ Snake in time to settle into the crowd. Not long after, the French superstar brought out Future, and the crowd loved it. Performing hit after hit, including “Mask Off”, Future and Snake made the last moments of Ultra Music Festival 2017 extremely memorable.
With the last firing off of the fireworks, I and the rest of Ultra’s attendees filed out of Bayfront Park and waved goodbye until next year.
Ultra 2017 was an absolute treat to anyone who was able to witness it. In person or on the live stream, every electronic music fan experienced the very best that the industry has to give. From Tiësto to Major Lazer to Armin Van Buuren, there was something for everyone at Bayfront Park this past weekend.
To Ultra and the amazing team behind it, congratulations on yet another incredible year. From the production to the all around sense of safety in the park, I commend you all on a fantastic job.
UMF, until next year at the 20th year anniversary!
Photos by Ryan Pergola