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Ultra Music Festival 2018
Ultra Music Festival 2018

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Ultra Music Festival Will No Longer Be Held In Miami

"We are now finalizing a new South Florida location that will serve as an incredible and permanent home," reads a statement from the festival

GRAMMYs/May 10, 2019 - 12:18 am

Yesterday, March 8, Ultra Music Festival announced via an official statement that they will no longer be holding their flagship event in Miami and are "finalizing a new South Florida location."

The now-global electronic music company wrapped up its 21st annual fest in Miami on March 31, this time at a new location in Virginia Key, a small island a few miles from Miami proper, accessible by causeway.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">A letter to our fans... <a href="https://t.co/m0DkoUWdBU">pic.twitter.com/m0DkoUWdBU</a></p>&mdash; Ultra Music Festival (@ultra) <a href="https://twitter.com/ultra/status/1126230954329219073?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 8, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Following the event, as reported by the Miami Herald, the contract allowing Ultra Music Fest to take place at Virginia Key would be automatically renewed for 2020 unless either Ultra or the City of Miami revoked it within 60 days after the event had ended. The Herald says that on Wednesday, Ultra delivered a letter to the city stating they would be withdrawing from their partnership, a day before City of Miami commissioners were scheduled to vote on the matter.

Ultra's public statement explains they came to the decision after listening to feedback from the most recent event, writing; "the festival experience on Virginia Key was simply not good enough." The event suffered from transportation issues when the majority of attendees tried to leave the island at the same time.

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The letter to fans explains the organizers are working on finding a new home for the 2020 fest, taking it out of Miami County for the first time, but keeping it in Southern Florida.

"We are now finalizing a new South Florida location that will serve as an incredible and permanent home for Ultra Music Festival," the statement continues. "We are in the process of putting the finishing touches on the final details that will ensure that this new location allows us to deliver the incredible experience that our loyal fans expect and deserve."

In 2018, Ultra Worldwide acquired Winter Music Conference, Miami's longtime electronic music industry event and the place where the first Ultra Music Fest began in 1999, originally as a supplemental party to the event that has brought big-name DJ/producers to Miami for decades. The housing of WMC under the Ultra umbrella was envisioned to realign the two major electronic music events, with 2019 once again seeing the conference lead into the festival weekend. It is unclear how the festival's new home will affect the timing of these two big events.

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DJ Deorro performs  during the Mextour Live Concert at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles in 2023
DJ Deorro performs on stage during the Mextour Live Concert at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)

Photo: Omar Vega/Getty Images

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8 Essential Latin Electronic Releases: Songs And Albums From Bizarrap, Arca & More

Electronic sounds can be heard throughout Latin music and will be recognized in a new Field and Category at the 2024 Latin GRAMMYs. In honor of the new Best Latin Electronic Music Performance award, read on for eight Latin electronic music essentials.

GRAMMYs/May 2, 2024 - 01:22 pm

Electronic music is embedded within the diverse world of Latin music and, for the first time, will be recognized in a new Field and Category at the 2024 Latin GRAMMYs. Within that field, the award for Best Latin Electronic Music Performance was created to shine a light on DJs, producers, and artists blending proudly blending electronic music with the sounds of their cultures.

Electronic music embodies various subgenres like house music, techno, trance, electronica, and many others rooted that have been popularized by DJs and producers. Latin artists have long enriched those subgenres: Mexico's Belanova globalized the electro-pop wave, while Bomba Estéreo blended cumbia with electronica in Colombia. 

The explosion of EDM in the 2010s also allowed the careers of Latinx DJs to flourish. Mexican American DJ Deorro has showcased both cultures during sets at music festivals like EDC, Coachella, Tomorrowland, and more. Arca's music pushes the boundaries of electronic music through a Venezuelan and Latin American lens. More recently, Colombian producer Víctor Cárdenas bridged the gap between EDM and reggaeton with the global hit "Pepas" by Farruko. Since then, electronic music has seeped through the work of Latin hit-makers like Tainy, Caleb Calloway, Bizarrap and Diego Raposo. "Pepas" and many of Bizarrap's music sessions crossed over onto Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs.

"That’s something that’s very big for us," Deorro tells GRAMMY.com about the new category. "How beautiful that this is happening, because it shows that what we’re doing is working, we’re breaking down doors, and we’re creating more opportunities for artists like us in the future." 

In honor of the Latin Recording Academy's new Field and Category, here are eight must-hear Latin electronic music essentials.

Belanova - Cocktail (2003)

Belanova revolutionized the Latin music space with their 2003 debut album Cocktail, an atmospheric LP that seamlessly blends Latin pop with electronic music. In the dreamy deep house of "Tu Ojos," singer Denisse Guerrero sang about getting lost in her lover's eyes. The trippy techno of "Barco De Papel" was reminiscent of the music from Madonna's Ray of Light album. Electronic music on the ambient level wasn’t common in Latin music until Belenova changed the game in Mexico, which later reverberated into the rest of Latin America and the U.S. 

The trio — which includes guitarist Ricardo Arreol and keyboardist Edgar Huerta — later delved into electro-pop on 2007's Fantasía Pop, which won a Latin GRAMMY for Best Pop Album by a Group or Duo the following year. 

Arca - Kick I-II (2020)

Venezuelan producer/artist Arca is a pioneer in the Latin electronic music space. Arca first began producing her experimental electronica in Spanish with her 2017 self-titled album.

Arca then masterfully mixed the diverse sounds of Latin America and beyond with EDM throughout her Kick album series. 

For Kick I, she combined Venezuelan gaita music and reggaeton with a cyberpunk edge in "KLK" featuring Spanish pop star Rosalía. Arca then blended electronica with neo-perreo on Kick II's "Prada" and "Rakata." Both albums garnered Arca GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY nominations. 

As a trans and non-binary artist, she is also breaking boundaries for the LGBTQ+ community in the genre. Arca is just not creating more space for queer artists in Latin music, but also in EDM at large by embracing the totality of herself in song.  

Bomba Estéreo - Deja (2021)

Bomba Estéreo, which is comprised of core members Simón Mejía and Liliana "Li" Saumet, has masterfully melded the music of Colombia’s Caribbean coast with electronic music. Since breaking out in 2008 with their sophomore album, the group has often reimagined the African and Indigenous rhythms of their country like cumbia through dance music. Bomba Estéreo’s folkloric approach to EDM has led to collaborations with Bad Bunny, Tainy, and Sofi Tukker.    

In 2021, Bomba Estéreo released its most ambitious album Deja, which garnered a GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY nominations. The title track put a funky spin on the band's signature electro-tropical sound. House music collided with the Afro-Colombian rhythms of champeta in "Conexión Total" featuring Nigerian singer Yemi Alade. Their album that was based on the four classical elements was a breath of fresh air in the Latin music scene. 

Bizarrap - "BZRP Music Sessions #52" (2022)

Argentine producer Bizarrap launched the BZRP Music Sessions on YouTube in 2018, first remaining behind the console for freestyle rapping sessions with local acts. The sessions quickly went viral, and have featured increasingly larger names in music.

Over the past five years, Bizarrap worked elements of electronic music into his hip-hop productions. In 2022, he fully delved into EDM with his global hit "BZRP Music Sessions #52" featuring Spanish singer Quevedo. The traptronica banger peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs and earned Bizarrap his first Latin GRAMMY Award. 

Since then, his music sessions have become a global event. Bizarrap later infused electro-pop with a trap breakdown in "BZRP Music Sessions #53" with Shakira, which garnered him two more Latin GRAMMY awards. 

Javiera Mena - Nocturna (2022)

Javiera Mena first debuted as an indie act in 2006 with Esquemas Juveniles. With that freedom as a producer and artist, the Chilean star pushed Latin music into the electronic space with her 2010 album Mena

She fully immersed herself into Latin electronica on her latest album, 2022's Nocturna — an album filled with nighttime club bangers that invite everyone to dance with her. Mena also proudly sings about being part of the LGBTQ+ community in the alluring "La Isla de Lesbos" and the fierce house music of "Diva" featuring Chico Blanco. Considering the influence of queer artists in the formation of electronic genres like house, it’s refreshing to see an artist like Mena remind people of those roots and bring that into Latin music.  

Deorro - Orro (2022)

Mexican American producer Deorro has established himself as one of the world's top DJs, and is known for mixing both of his cultures into his music festival sets. Even before the música mexicana explosion last year, he was one of the first mainstream EDM acts to bring the genre to music festivals around the world through his songs and remixes.   

With his debut album, 2022's Orro, Deorro fully bridged música mexicana with house music. He collaborated with Latin acts like Mexico's Los Tucanes De Tijuana and Maffio in "Yo Las Pongo," which blended the band's norteño sound with EDM. Deorro also explored cumbia with deep house in the sweeping "Dime" featuring Los Ángeles Azules and Lauri Garcia. In his recent sets, he is spinning a fiery remix of "Ella Baila Sola" by Eslabon Armado and Peso Pluma

Sinego - Alterego (2023)

Sinego first broke through in 2019 thanks to his house bolero sound like in "Verte Triste," which put a refreshing spin on an age-old Cuban genre. With traditional genres within the Latin diaspora often falling to the wayside as the years go on, he is reintroducing them to new audiences through EDM reimaginings.   

For his debut album, 2023's Alterego, the Colombian producer pushed his electronic music to another level. Sinego traveled to different Latin American countries and Spain to record with local musicians, reimagining genres like cumbia, tango, and mambo through Sinego's EDM lens. With the sultry "Mala," he blended Venezuela's variation of calypso with house music. He also gave Brazilian samba a house music makeover in "Boa Noite" featuring Tonina. 

Diego Raposo - Yo No Era Así Pero De Ahora En Adelante Sí (2023)

Dominican producer Diego Raposo has helped Latin acts like Danny Ocean, Blue Rojo, and Letón Pé embrace elements of electronic music. In 2018, Raposo released his debut album Caribe Express, which demonstrated his knack for mixing the sounds of the Caribbean with EDM. 

Raposo took that inventive mix into overdrive with last year's Yo No Era Así Pero De Ahora En Adelante Sí. The otherworldly "Si Supieras" featuring Okeiflou blended house music with reggaeton, while "Al Contrario" with Akrilla aggressively mixes drum 'n 'bass with dembow. Rapaso also channels Dance Dance Revolution-esque electronica in the spellbinding "Quédate" with Kablito. 

7 Latin DJs To Watch In 2023: Gordo, Arca, The Martinez Brothers & More

Photo of Queen Latifah performing onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards in 2023. She is wearing a black shirt and black jacket with gold hoop earrings and a tall bun in her hair.
Queen Latifah performs during the 2023 GRAMMYs

Photo: JC Olivera/WireImage

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10 Must-See Artists At New Orleans Jazz Fest 2024: The Rolling Stones, Big Freedia & More

Held over two weeks and spread across 14 stages, NoLa's Jazz and Heritage Festival is stacked with A-list headliners and a host of incredibly talented performers in smaller text. Read on for 10 artists to see at the Crescent City's hallmark music fest.

GRAMMYs/Apr 22, 2024 - 03:01 pm

Year after year, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival drops lineups of unparalleled cultural depth and diversity, so there’s always an expectation for greatness. But when the roster was announced for its 53rd edition, one name at the top prompted an eye-popping response: the Rolling Stones.

Even if you’re not a fan, there’s no denying that the Stones are one whopper of a get. They hardly ever play at festivals, after all. But their presence is just the tip of the iceberg on a bill that represents a staggering amount of musical talent ranging from classic to contemporary across the event’s two four-day weekends (April 25-28 and May 2-5) held at the city’s expansive Fair Grounds Race Course. 

Within the fest poster’s top few lines alone, you’ve got not only heavy-hitters like the Foo Fighters, Chris Stapleton, the Killers and Greta Van Fleet, but also definitive cultural icons like Neil Young, Queen Latifah, the Beach Boys, Earth, Wind & Fire and Bonnie Raitt … and then a few hundred other artists to sift through. 

So, if you’re headed to the Crescent City for either weekend (or both), you’re gonna need to make some hard choices — the schedule, spread out across 14 stages, is stacked, and you won’t want to be making all your decisions split-second and accidentally miss out on something unsuspectingly spectacular while navigating your way through seas of people (total attendance usually tops out between 450-500,000 over the course of the entire affair). Read on for all the info on 10 of this year’s must-see acts — from up-and-comers to certified superstars, to get you started.

Robert Finley 

Performing: April 25, Blues Tent

Blues and soul man Robert Finley performs in a way that might make you think he’s a legend who’s been playing on stages forever, which is only sort of true. The 70-year-old Louisiana native (from Bernice, just east of Shreveport), picked up music as a kid and worked as a U.S. Army bandleader while serving in Germany in the 1970s, but didn’t get his break until 2015 when he met Big Legal Mess Records producer Bruce Watson, who recognized Finley’s talent and the following year released his fittingly titled debut album Age Don’t Mean a Thing.

Fast forward to now, and the singer/guitarist has three more albums under his belt, each of those produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach via his label Easy Eye Sound. Finely was one of many artists whose scheduled debuts at Jazz Fest 2020 fell through because of the event’s cancellation due to COVID, so his April 25 performance in the Blues tent will mark his first appearance at the New Orleans fest. 

His latest full-length, 2023’s Black Bayou, is described as a "tour de force that coalesces gospel, blues, soul, and rock into a raw, thundering tribute to Finley’s home state of Louisiana," which sounds pretty dang perfect for a set that helps kick off two weekends of Jazz Fest.

Big Freedia

Performing: April 27, Congo Square Stage

Queen of bounce music, queen diva … with their twelfth performance at the New Orleans festival slated for April 27, Big Freedia might be well on their way to becoming queen of Jazz Fest. Given all those appearances and their constant local presence, you’re likely in the know and don’t need extra urging to catch the set on the Congo Square stage if you’re a NOLA resident. 

For anyone else, here’s the rundown: Freedia’s music — known as bounce — is something that must be witnessed live to fully appreciate it. The multi-sensory experience incorporates hip-hop, electro/dance elements, a lot of call and response and a ton of twerking, always assisted by at least a few impressively acrobatic backup dancers. 

Freedia only has two official full-length albums, 2014’s Just Be Free and 2023’s Central City, but other recordings and collaborations abound, including a feature (via sample from first-album track "Explode") on Beyoncé’s GRAMMY-winning Renaissance single "Break My Soul." Your Jazz Fest outing will not be complete without at least a little time spent gettin’ down with the Queen Diva.

Fantasia 

Performing: April 27, Congo Square Stage

Singer and actress Fantasia hasn’t released an album since 2019’s Sketchbook, but her return to Jazz Fest couldn’t come at a more auspicious time (she debuted at the festival in 2011, shortly after winning the GRAMMY Award for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance for 2010 single "Bittersweet"). Following her starring role in 2023’s musical movie adaptation of The Color Purple, Fantasia appeared at the 66th GRAMMY Awards in February to perform Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" as part of a tribute to the late "Queen of Rock ’n’ Roll."

There are already tributes to Turner planned — one at the fest proper from Adonis Rose and NOJO on April 26, and another from Grace Potter and Boyfriend at a satellite show at the Orpheum Theater on May 2. Fantasia could appear at either of those, but it feels just as likely that she’ll work in her own homage during her Congo Square stage set on April 27. She may also preview some new music: It’s been nearly two years since it was reported that Fantasia had two albums in the pipeline, one of them a gospel record.

The Rolling Stones

Performing: May 2, Festival Stage

The Rolling Stones have for years been Jazz Fest’s veritable white whale. The legendary British rock band was booked to headline in 2019 and was forced to cancel due to Mick Jagger’s heart surgery. Their 2021 rebooking likewise fell through after a new wave of COVID caused the entire festival’s cancellation for the second year in a row (2020 and 2021 are the only years Jazz Fest did not manifest since its start in 1970). So it stands to reason that the band’s May 2 debut on the main stage will far and away be the most momentous show across the two weekends.

Unless you’re an out and out Stones hater, you shouldn’t need any other reasons beyond those to make them a top priority. But, if you need a couple more, it’s also worth considering that this stop on their 19-date U.S. Hackney Diamonds Tour will mark only the fifth time they’ve ever performed in New Orleans and, seeing as they’ve been at it for more than 60 years, there’s no telling how long they’ll continue to play live, so it may be now or never if they’re on your bucket list. 

Of course, there’s also the music: over the course of their two-hour set, it’s a sure bet they’ll bust out all the hits and, with any luck, a few once-in-a-lifetime rarities. Adding to the musical splendor, legendary New Orleans soul singer Irma Thomas recently confirmed that she will perform with the Stones (the groups share the single "Time Is On My Side," which Thomas recorded in 1964).

Christone "Kingfish" Ingram 

Performing: May 3, Blues Tent

If you’re curious who’s carrying the Delta blues torch, look no further than Christone "Kingfish" Ingram. The 25-year-old, Mississippi-bred guitarist and singer has some mighty impressive credentials. At age 15, he performed in a band at the White House for Michelle Obama, and a year later he was getting props from Bootsy Collins and jamming with Buddy Guy, who went on  to fund his debut album Kingfish, released in 2019.

Ingram’s second album, 2021’s 622, earned him a golden gramophone for Best Contemporary Blues Album at the 64th GRAMMY Awards, and he went on to make his Jazz Fest debut last year. He returns to headline the Blues Tent on May 3 riding the strength of third full-length, Live in London, released last September. If you need any extra motivation to go see one of the young saviors of traditional blues, give that record a spin.

Rhiannon Giddens 

Performing: May 4, Blues Tent

If you’re a fan of top-notch southern folk, bluegrass, country, gospel, blues, soul … OK, hold up. If you’re a fan of enthralling music in general, pencil in Rhiannon Giddens’ set on May 4 in the Blues Tent at the top of your list. Giddens returns to New Orleans for her third Jazz Fest appearance following sets in 2016 and 2017, both of which were released as live albums (so you can go back and get a sneak preview of precisely how it might feel in this setting). 

You’ll be sure to hear key cuts from her latest solo full-length, 2023’s You’re the One (produced by Jack Splash, who’s repertoire also includes studio work for Kendrick Lamar, Solange and Alicia Keys), as well as tunes from her various other GRAMMY-nominated and -winning recordings, including solo albums, collaborative records and earlier work with old-time string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops

Heck, you might even hear snippets of opera — Giddens won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Music for co-composing Omar, an opera based on the autobiography of Omar ibn Said, the only memoir known to have been written by an American slave in Arabic. 

Samara Joy

Performing: May 4, WWOZ Jazz Tent

Kudos to Jazz Fest for booking Samara Joy to play a prime slot on May 4 in the WWOZ Jazz tent during the fest’s second weekend. After she nabbed GRAMMY Awards for Best New Artist and Best Jazz Vocal Album (for 2022 sophomore release Linger Awhile), it would’ve been a big miss had they not put her on. 

For Joy, whose notoriously arresting performances have already led her to playing a grip of other prestigious jazz fests around the world while touring relentlessly over the past couple of years, this appearance represents a major notch on her belt. For anyone planning to attend the fest, this is the chance to witness a major moment in the 24-year-old’s meteoric rise — history in the making.

Queen Latifah 

Performing: May 4, Congo Square Stage

Queen Latifah has been dubbed many illustrious titles over the course of her decades-long career, among them queen of rap and hip-hop. But seeing her name atop this year’s Jazz Fest roster evokes one in particular: queen of jazz-rap. No, it’s not too on the nose — since the release of her first album All Hail the Queen in 1989, her music has leaned heavily on elements of jazz, and on 2004 release The Dana Owens Album, she embraced it completely, covering standards of the genre alongside legends like Al Green and Herbie Hancock, even garnering a GRAMMY nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album.

That legacy paints an exciting prospective picture for her May 4 headlining set on the Congo Square stage. Could she possibly bring out some of those venerable forebears for some surprise live collaborations? It’s likewise worth noting that this show arrives only a few months after her performance in "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop." Might this also function as a victory lap with the potential for cameos from others involved in that all-star celebration? Let’s be real though: it is her Jazz Fest debut, and a long time coming, so even a set featuring only the Queen will be one for the books.

Grupo Niche

 Performing: May 5, Congo Square Stage

Here’s one to give you an extra boost on the fest’s final day (May 5). Colombian-bred, Miami-based Grupo Niche have been considered one of the most influential salsa groups in the Americas since their formation in 1979, making them just nine years younger than the fest itself and well-deserving of their Jazz Fest debut on the Congo Square stage.

Though their final founding member and director/composer Jairo Valera passed away in 2012, the expansive group — comprised of four vocalists, five horn players, four percussionists, a bass player, keyboardist and band director — has successfully evolved and thrived. Huge credit to their perseverance: the first album released without Valera, 2020’s 40, won the Latin GRAMMY Award for Best Salsa Album that year, as well as the GRAMMY Award for Best Tropical Latin Album in 2021. 

If Grupo Niche can keep the dance party going for more than four decades, surely you can squeeze in an hour at the fest.

Celebrating Jimmy Buffett With The Coral Reefer Band

Performing: May 5, Festival Stage

Considering Jimmy Buffett’s roots in New Orleans — his busking on the streets of the French Quarter in the 1960s essentially propelled him on his path to becoming a music legend — it would be utterly irresponsible as a Jazz Fest attendee to skip the Coral Reefer Band paying tribute on May 5 via the main stage to the late singer-songwriter, who passed in September 2023. 

This will be the second official performance after his death from his backing band following their April 11 all-star outing at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, which included appearances from Paul McCartney, Zac Brown and Brandi Carlile, among many others. 

No announcements have been made regarding Jazz Fest’s additions to the band, which performed there with Buffett for a dozen shows, their first in 1989 and last in 2022. Regardless, there’s no doubt it will play out as an emotional and uplifting ode to an artist who lived and breathed New Orleans music.

Music Festivals 2024 Guide: Lineups & Dates For Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo & Much More

Photo of Skepta performing at Wireless Festival on September 11, 2021, in London, England. Skepta is wearing dark black sunglasses, a black shirt, and a vest made of bullets.
Skepta performs a headline set at Wireless Festival on September 11, 2021, in London, England

Photo: Joseph Okpako/WireImage

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10 Must-See Artists At Coachella 2024: Skepta, The Last Dinner Party, Mdou Moctar, Cimafunk & More

Peso Pluma, Lana Del Rey, Doja Cat, Tyler, The Creator, J Balvin and a reunited No Doubt may be some of the biggest draws at Coachella 2024, but the beloved festival will host a multitude of must-see artists whose names appear in smaller text.

GRAMMYs/Apr 22, 2024 - 03:00 pm

Ah, springtime. For the average person, that means sunshine, flora in bloom, perhaps a figurative fresh start in the new year. But for music festival fans, it signals another season starter: Coachella.

An estimated 125,000 people will flock to the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, California for the first weekend (April 12-14) of the 23rd Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. While the first weekend is already sold out, tickets are still available for the second weekend (April 19-21).

Coachella's headliners have been busy: Both Lana Del Rey (headlining Friday) and Doja Cat (slated to close out Sunday) just wrapped extensive tours at the end of 2023 and, while Saturday closer Tyler, the Creator's only other 2024 festival date is at Lollapalooza, he did stage a large-scale appearance in 2023 at the Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival in Los Angeles. Still, it stands to reason that there are scores of fans who missed out on those tour stops, and Coachella would be an ideal chance to catch them in a particularly special setting. 

There's also the potential to see a slew of surprise guests (a long-standing Chella tradition) and much-hyped reunions. Coachella 2024 attendees will likely flock to see a reunited No Doubt and Sublime, the latter with a Nowell back at the helm (Bradley’s son, Jakob).

Then there’s the economic logic behind opting to see those bigger acts at a festival: for a price not much more than what you’d pay for an arena ticket, you get the bonus of catching dozens of other incredible artists while you’re at it. The diversity and quality of music throughout even the lower tiers of the Coachella lineup is staggering, so overall the price for a pass is quite the steal. Read on for the inside scoop on 10 of this year’s most exciting undercard performances.

Read More: Music Festivals 2024 Guide: Lineups & Dates For Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo & Much More

Cimafunk

Cuban artist Cimafunk has been relatively quiet since releasing a third studio album, El Alimento, in 2021. But the success of that record — which garnered his first GRAMMY nomination for Best Latin Rock or Alternative album at the 2023 GRAMMY Awards — appears to have propelled him to new career heights. He will be the first Cuban-born artist to perform at the festival, kicking off a string of worldwide shows that begin with his appearance at Coachella on April 12 and 19. 

Read more: At Getting Funky In Havana, Young Musicians Feel The Power Of Cross-Cultural Connection

Cimafunk’s sole release since his last album was the December 2023 single “Te tango en salsa,” which expands upon his self-designated brand of Afro Cuban Funk with accents of disco and grooves filled with New Orleans-style horns. Though the track hasn’t been publicly connected to any upcoming EP or album, one might presume that his impending run of concerts is a precursor to a complete body of new music. Perhaps Coachella will function as a testing ground, and considering the inclusion on El Ailmento of prominent artists George Clinton, CeeLo Green and Lupe Fiasco, who knows what other surprises might be in store at the desert festival known for delighting audiences with plenty of guest features.

L’Imperatrice

Through the years following their inception in 2012, French pop band L’Imperatrice have played primarily in Europe and surrounding regions, so it’s no small feat that they’re poised to make their second appearance at Coachella in two years. They first played the fest in 2022, a makeup show for Coachella's 2020 COVID-19 cancellation. 

Their slots on April 12 and 19, stops on their just-launched Double Trouble Tour, follow the 2018 release of debut full-length Matahari and performances at prominent festivals like Austin City Limits and Outside Lands. Self-produced sophomore album Pulsar arrives on June 7, and its infectiously groovy and sensual debut single “Me Da Iqual” promises a Coachella set sure to incite emotional release among the masses — ideally during one of the fest’s famed golden hours to match the music’s euphoric vibes. 

Skepta

Regarded as one of the most influential rappers in the UK grime scene, Skepta is set to commence his latest return to stateside stages with appearances at Coachella on both Fridays, which marks his second time at the festival after lauded dual appearances in 2017. 

Following a semi-secret DJ set at Austin’s South by Southwest festival in March, these shows will preview a run of summer dates in the UK and Europe and the release of upcoming sixth solo album Knife and Fork

With that record’s release date still in question but imminent, it’s a good bet that he’ll introduce new material to build upon the January drop of lead single "Gas Me Up (Diligent)," which adopts a flow and melodic structure more akin to popular American rap. To that end, Skepta’s previous collaborations with U.S. rappers like Drake, Ye and members of ASAP Mob could lead to a loaded lineup of guests during his Coachella set. It has the potential to be a huge moment, though his reputation for high-energy and rowdy gigs are reasons enough to prioritize his performance. 

Read More: UK Drill Is An International Sensation. Will It Be Censored To Death?

Mandy, Indiana

English-French noise rock upstarts Mandy, Indiana make music that isn’t necessarily easy to digest. Minimalist and chaotic compositions, primarily from their widely celebrated 2023 debut album I’ve Seen a Way, resonate as tunes tailor-made for technically minded music nerds. Still, danceable moments emerge among the sonic helter-skelter, which combines experimental elements of industrial, classic house music and samples aplenty (think Death Grips with more palatable melodies and exclusively French lyrics). 

So far, the dynamic four-piece hasn’t played much on this side of the pond — their debut shows at Coachella arrive on the heels of a handful of U.S. appearances in 2023 that included the SXSW Music Festival. Which means Mandy, Indiana’s sets on April 13 and 20 will mark relatively rare (and therefore must-see) chances to embrace their overtly wonderful weirdness in the desert among the more prominent pop-leaning artists on the roster.

The Last Dinner Party

If you’re not yet keen on British indie rock band the Last Dinner Party, it’s time to get with the program. With only one album under their belt, Prelude to Ecstasy (released Feb. 2) — which echoes various influences ranging from Siouxsie and the Banshees to Kate Bush and ABBA —the quintet has already earned multiple awards and accolades, including topping the UK Album Chart. To boot, they opened for the Rolling Stones in London’s Hyde Park two years prior to putting out their record.

The band’s performances are reportedly jaw-dropping, further evidenced by the complete sell-out of their current U.S. tour. That jaunt wraps with their April 20 appearance at Coachella (they also play during the first weekend on April 13), so, unless you want to pay ridiculous resale prices for one of their club shows, this is a prime chance to see them live with the added benefit of catching many more amazing acts while you’re there.

Young Fathers

Young Fathers are often categorized under the umbrella of hip-hop, but it would be wrong to pigeonhole them that way. True, one can pinpoint elements of a spitting, old-school style — especially on debut album Dead (winner of the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2014.. However, their sound spans the landscape of many genres, often weaving in threads of electronic, industrial, and trip-hop. It should be telling that they’ve collaborated multiple times with Massive Attack.

The music clearly resonates with a substantial audience. They’ve reached prime positions on the UK Album charts, their fourth and latest album Heavy Heavy (released Feb. 3, 2023) won them their third Scottish Album of the Year Award, and this year marks their second invitation to Coachella (catch them on Sundays: April 13 and 20). With a full year gone since putting out new songs, there’s no telling if they’ll serve up anything fresh. Regardless, fans of heavy-hitting experimental music, assuredly energizing at any time of day or night, should prioritize seeing their set.

Oneohtrix Point Never

It’s a wonder that Oneohtrix Point Never has never played Coachellal until now given his string of consistent releases since emerging in the early 2000s (with never more than three years between albums) and Coachella’s penchant for historically championing experimental electronic artists. Following the Feb. 29 release of his latest EP “Oneohtrix Point Never - Ambients,” he debuts in the desert on April 13, with his second weekend encore on April 20. 

The Massachusetts-bred beatmaker’s music swings from sparse to compositionally complex. It's not geared toward a typical EDM dance party, but always cinematic and hypnotizing, creating a space where listeners can truly lose themselves in the sonics. Given his style, it’s safe to assume he’ll occupy an evening time slot, so if you’re the type who prefers something a little more raw to the mainstream big-timers topping the bill, Oneohtrix Point Never might be just the ticket.

Mdou Moctar

If there’s one artist on this year’s Coachella lineup that will truly thrive in a desert setting, it’s Mdou Moctar. The Niger-based musician plays rock music steeped in the style of Tuareg, guitar-based blues-rock fusion that originates in the Sahara region. However, Moctar’s music decidedly transcends the traditional sound, often reverberating as sublimely psychedelic.

His performances in Indio on April 14 and 21 precede the release of his sixth album Funeral For Justice (arriving May 3). Based on the two singles made available from that record so far (title track “Funeral for Justice” and “Imouhar”), the people of Coachella are in for a true desert trip.

Atarashii Gakko!

When Japanese “girl group” Atarashii Gakko! make their Coachella debut on April 14 and 21, anticipate the unexpected. The four singers’ have a stated goal of “redefining what it means to be a girl group.” They’re technically categorized as J-Pop, but among the many catchy choruses, their music also incorporates shades of speed metal, trap beats and alt-rap à la Rage Against the Machine, all of which you can hear on their latest album ICHIJIKIKOKU.

What you can certainly expect is an outrageously high-energy show chock-full of nonstop, self-designed choreography performed in colorful sailor-fuku uniforms (essentially sailor suits worn by Japanese students in the ‘70s and ‘80s … think Sailor Moon but intentionally less provocative). If you need an adrenaline boost on the final day of the fest, look no further than Atarashii Gakko!.

Olivia Dean

Dear America, it’s time to give a proper welcome to an artist destined for stardom:  Olivia Dean. With only a handful of U.S. shows in the bank, the 25-year-old British neo-soul singer’s debut at Coachella on April 14 — arguably her biggest U.S. gig yet — will serve as the most well-deserved of receptions. 

Sure, her nominations for the 2023 Mercury Prize (for debut album Messy) and 2024 Brit Awards (Best Pop Act, British Artist of the Year and Best New Artist) should merit attention enough for those who don’t know her. But even a few moments of listening to key album tracks “Dive” and “The Hardest Part” (don’t sleep on the alternate version featuring Leon Bridges) are the real deal-sealers. The richness of Dean’s recorded vocals are absolutely arresting, evocative of and equal to top-tier divas who preceded her. It’s thrilling just thinking about the impact she’ll make at Coachella — do yourself a favor if you have the chance and go witness it firsthand. 

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Curtis Jones, aka Cajmere & Green Velvet, performing live. Jones is wearing dark sunglasses amid a dark background and green strobe lights.
Curtis Jones performs as Green Velvet

Photo: Matt Jelonek/WireImage

interview

Dance Legend Curtis Jones On Cajmere, Green Velvet & 30 Years Of Cajual Records

As Green Velvet and Cajmere, DJ/producer Curtis Jones celebrates everything from Chicago to acid house. With a new party and revived record label, Jones says he wants to "shine a light on those who sacrificed so much to keep house music alive."

GRAMMYs/Apr 17, 2024 - 02:19 pm

Curtis Jones is a dance music legend, whose multiple monikers only begin to demonstrate his deep and varied influence in the genre.

Jones has been active as a producer and DJ for decades, and is among a cadre of dance music acts forging a connection between the genre's origins and its modern iterations. Crucially, he  joined Chicago house legends Honey Dijon and Terry Hunter on Beyoncé's house-infused RENAISSANCE, providing a sample for "Cozy." He’s also produced tracks with house favorites Chris Lake and Oliver Heldens, and DJed with Dom Dolla and John Summit.

Jones contributed to the aforementioned collaborations, young and old, as Green Velvet. He’s been releasing dance hits like "Flash" and "Answering Machine" under that name since the mid- '90s. He is also currently a staple of the live circuit, his signature green mohawk vibing in clubs and festivals around the globe — including at his own La La Land parties in Los Angeles, Denver, Orlando, and elsewhere.

Green Velvet is appropriately braggadocious, even releasing the popular "Bigger Than Prince" in 2013. But by the time Jones had released the heavy-grooving tech house track, his artistry had been percolating for decades as Cajmere.

Where Green Velvet releases lean into acid house and Detroit techno, Cajmere is all about the traditional house sound of Jones’ hometown of Chicago. When Jones first debuted Cajmere in 1991, Chicago’s now-historic reputation for house music was still developing. Decades after the original release, Cajmere tracks like "Percolator,” have sustained the Windy City sound via remixes by prominent house artists like Will Clarke, Jamie Jones, and Claude VonStroke.

"I love doing music under both of my aliases, so it’s great when fans discover the truth,” Jones tells GRAMMY.com over email. Often, Jones performs as Cajmere to open his La La Land parties, and closes as Green Velvet. 

But beyond a few scattered performances and new tracks, Cajmere has remained dormant while Green Velvet became a worldwide headliner, topping bills in Mexico City, Toronto, Bogotá and other international dance destinations. He’s only shared two original releases as Cajmere since 2016: "Baby Talk,” and "Love Foundation,” a co-production with fellow veteran Chicago producer/DJ Gene Farris.

This year, Jones is reviving Cajmere to headliner status with his new live event series, Legends. First held in March in Miami, Jones' Legends aims to highlight other dance music legends, from Detroit techno pioneers Stacey Pullen and Carl Craig, to Chicago house maven Marshall Jefferson. 

"My intention is to shine a light on those who sacrificed so much to keep house music alive," Jones writes. "The sad reality is that most of the legendary artists aren’t celebrated or compensated as well as they should be."

Given that dance music came into the popular music zeitgeist relatively recently, the originators of the genre — like the artists Jones booked for his Legends party — are still in their prime. Giving them space to perform allows them to apply the same innovation they had in the early '90s in 2024.

Jones says the Miami Legends launch was an amazing success."Seeing the passion everyone, young and old, displayed was so inspiring."

Curtis Jones Talks House, Cajmere & Green Velvet performs at Legends Miami

Curtis Jones, center, DJs at the Miami Legends party ┃Courtesy of the artist

The first Legends party also served as a celebration of Cajual Records, the label Jones launched in 1992 as a home for his Cajmere music. Over the past three decades, Cajual has also released tracks from dance music veterans such as Riva Starr, as well as contemporary tastemakers like Sonny Fodera and DJ E-Clyps. 

Furthermore, Jones’ partnership with revered singers such as Russoul and Dajae (the latter of whom still performs with him to this day) on Cajual releases like "Say U Will” and "Waterfall” helped to define the vocal-house style.

Like the Cajmere project, Cajual Records has been moving slower in recent years. The label has only shared four releases since 2018. True to form, though, Jones started another label; Relief Records, the home of Green Velvet's music, shared 10 releases in 2023 alone.

Jones says he's been particularly prolific as Green Velvet because "the genres of tech house and techno have allowed me the creative freedom I require as an artist."

Now Jones is making "loads of music” as Cajmere again and recently signed a new distribution deal for Cajual Records. The true sound of Chicago is resonating with audiences in 2024, Jones says, adding "it's nice that house is making a comeback."

Jones remembers when house music was especially unpopular. He used to call radio stations in the '80s to play tracks like Jamie Principle's underground classic "Waiting On My Angel,” only to be told they didn’t play house music whatsoever. In 2024, house music records like FISHER’s "Losing It” were certified gold, and received nominations for Best Dance Recording at the 66th GRAMMY Awards. Jones is embracing this popularity with open arms.

Read more: The Rise Of Underground House: How Artists Like Fisher & Acraze Have Taken Tech House, Other Electronic Genres From Indie To EDC

"The new audience it’s attracting is excited to hear unique underground-style house records now. This is perfect for my Cajmere sets,” Jones says. "I never saw Green Velvet being more popular than Cajmere, and both sounds being as popular as they are even today.” 

While Jones is finding success in his own artistic endeavors, he points to a general lack of appreciation for Black dance artists in festival bookings. Looking at the run-of-show for ARC Festival, a festival in Chicago dedicated to house and techno music, legendary artists play some of the earliest slots. 

For the 2023 edition, Carl Craig played at 3 p.m on Saturday while the young, white John Summit, closed the festival the same night. In 2021, the acid house inventor, Chicago’s DJ Pierre, played the opening set at 2 p.m. on Saturday, while FISHER, another younger white artist, was the headliner.

In 2020, Marshall Jefferson penned an op-ed in Mixmag about the losing battle he is fighting as a Black DJ from the '90s. He mentions that younger white artists often receive upwards of $250,000 for one gig, whereas he receives around $2,000, despite the fact that he still DJs to packed crowds 30 years after he started.

Jones is doing his part to even the playing field with Legends, and according to him, things are going well after the first edition. "Seeing how much respect the fans have for the Legends was so special,” Jones says. "Hopefully they become trendy again.” 

The story of Curtis Jones is already one of legend, but it is far from over. "I feel it’s my duty to continue to make creative and innovative tracks as well as musical events. I love shining the light on new upcoming and emerging artists as well as giving the originators their proper dues,” Jones says. 

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