Three jam packed days of Ultra Music Festival 2012 kicked off on Friday, March 23rd from Bayfront Park in downtown Miami, Florida. The weather (sunny, warm, low humidity) could not have been more perfect.
A sell out crowd of over 160,000 people, dressed in everything, anything, and next to nothing, began flowing into the park the minute the gates opened at 4pm.
With eight stages of world class talent to choose from at any given moment, and no breaks between sets (except when needed for the occasional stage set up or on the Live stage) it was impossible to see every DJ we were interested in checking out.
However, such an abundance of talent is a problem that most festivals and EDM fans are more than willing to live with.
Our first stop of the day was on the main stage where we took in the end of Tommy Trash’s set.
Martin Solveig was up next and the producer behind the recent mega-club hit “Hello” wasted little time in getting the tens of thousands of fans in the audience bouncing around like crazy.
At this point we attempted to venture into the UMF Korea tent to check out Madeon but found it so packed with people that we quickly retreated back to the main stage for Benny Benassi. Good move. The veteran DJ from Italy’s energy is infectious. His track selection was spot on and his set left us hungry for more. It was definitely one of the highlights of the day.
Up next was another heavy hitter on the main stage so we stuck around to check out Afrojack. We’d planned on only sticking around for 20 minutes before heading off to see Richie Hawtin but Afrojack grabbed the crowd by the ears and would not let go. We were hooked. The Dutch have a knack for producing some of the world’s top DJ’s and Afrojack lived up to the billing. This was easily one of the best sets of the day, if not the entire festival.
It also was the first surprise guest appearance we witnessed at rapper Lil Jon joined the DJ on stage to throw down some live lyrics. Whattttttt? Okayyyyyyy by us!
Despite the fact that we missed Richie Hawtin, we pried ourselves away to the Live Stage around 8:15pm to catch Miike Snow. The trio of performers that use a singular moniker sang, danced, and played their hearts out. There’s something especially magical about a live performance and this was just the first of many we took in over the next three days at Ultra.
Again, we were forced to leave before their set ended to dash back to the main stage for Grammy award winning Dubstep wunderkind Skrillex. While Dubstep isn’t at the top of our musical taste, there is no denying that Skrillex has helped catapult EDM into the mainstream. With legions of fans packing in to see him, we didn’t want to miss the chance to take in his set with 100,000 others.
The bass was so loud from our perch in the photo pit that had we not had serious ear plugs, we might not have functional hearing today. As he head-banged and chain smoked from his massive stage set, Skrillex dropped some dirty bass on the crowd. After about 25 minutes we’d had our fill and it was back off to the Live Stage to catch a performance by none other than Kraftwerk.
Skrillex might have more to do with today’s EDM scene than almost anyone but were it not for the German techno producers, we might not have EDM at all. Kraftwerk all but invented electronic music and we weren’t about to miss the chance to see them.
We wrapped up the first night of Ultra by bouncing between the Live Stage for Pretty Lights, Main Stage for Tiesto, and Carl Cox & Friends arena for Carl Cox himself.
When Day 1 finally ended at midnight we were both astounded at the level of talent we had witnessed and disappointed at the number of acts we’d managed to miss.
You can catch our full photo gallery from Ultra Day 1 below: