Ultra Music Fest kicks off summer for DJs
From the bustling hotel lobbies of South Beach to the rumbling streets of downtown, it's impossible to escape the energy of Miami Music Week. Spearheaded by Ultra Music Festival, the city transforms each March into the preeminent destination for the world’s top DJs, electronic artist, festival fans, and party-hopping clubgoers. And The Recording Academy was on the ground to cover all the action.
We caught up with Ultra Worldwide Stage acts like NGHTMRE and Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, watched sets by Live Stage artists like the genre-bending hitmaker Zhu and legendary legacy acts Rabbit In The Moon and the Prodigy, and sat down with main stage headliners Fedde Le Grand and Armin Van Buuren to hear their thoughts on the evolution of dance music, the current state of the DJ craft, and what they think really makes Miami Music Week unique. Additionally, Van Buuren took over The Recording Academy Instagram account, providing a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his Miami experience, including photos from his March 24 Ultra headlining performance.
In its 19th Year, Ultra Music Festival delivered plenty of unforgettable moments and surprises, including an unannounced set by Kygo on the main stage right before Martin Garrix, took the stage to slay on Friday night. Saturday’s highlights included appearances by hip-hop legends Cypress Hill and Ice Cube as well as a trance-formative performance by British trio Above & Beyond just as the rain over downtown Miami subsided. The Resistance stage, manifested in the form of a giant robotic spider, pulsated with fire and bass during Dubfire's masterful set. Sunday saw an equally stacked main-stage menu, with performances by DJ Snake, Hardwell, and GRAMMY nominees Zedd and Galantis.
But Miami Music Week is more than just Ultra, it's an entire week full of club shows, beach parties and industry events under the Winter Music Conference umbrella. The Recording Academy tracked down plenty of the top names in town for the occasion, including 22-year-old superstar Dutch DJ Oliver Heldens, tech house legend Joris Voorn, and up-and-comers SUNBRN, Lost Frequencies, and Florian Picasso. We also crashed Bingo Players' "Bingo Beach" party at No Sugar Added to talk about his upcoming single, chatted with Dim Mak artist Dirtyphonics, and even hung out with local artist Afrobeta on a cruise ship.
With all of this activity and much more going on simultaneously, it's easy to see why so much of the dance music community heads to South Florida year after year.
"The cool thing about Miami Music Week, and why it’s so important, is that I see it as the start of the summer season," said GRAMMY-nominee Van Buuren. "If there were a calendar for DJ land, this would probably be New Year's Day, because this is where DJs come out of their caves to present their new music to the masses. It's the start of the DJ year."