After the Ultra Music Festival ended in its wash of streamers, confetti, exhausted bodies and enough detritus to make Al Gore shed a tear, I got to thinking about the essence of a festival such as this. As I wandered down that path, lathered in the glow of sodium lights and the purple of rapid e-toll gates, I finally arrived at my destination – an obligatory “the main problem I had with Ultra and how to make it better cause I’m a fan and I know better” article.
For me the main thing is the acts (I promise this isn’t going to a be a anti-big room house rant) I understand this is a mainstream dance festival, but this festival had a serious case of short-sightedness when it came to the artists booked. Since this isn’t the full-fledged event and it’s not on the scale of the American version (ours was huge yet was only a single day and only 25000 people) we can’t showcase the full extent of genres on a full assortment of individual stages catered to truly individual listening experiences.
Thus what I want to see is the organizers either taking the audience through a greater assortment of artists in different genres or a greater amount of artists who make a multitude of genres all upon the main stage. I feel it should be imperative of the organizers to take the audience on a sonic Tour de Force and not enforce the notion that all acts have to have a repeating feature in the Beatport Top 10.
So I’m going to compile a small list of artists that would make everybody happy.
1. DJ Carnage – He is a stalwart of the trap game, the primary purveyor of festival trap and likewise has now made waves in the big room house world.
2. Calvin Harris – This is self-explanatory, like really how has no one brought him here yet? Everybody from the trashy electro underground to mainstream ravers and even to soccer moms love him.
3. Porter Robinson/Zedd – Both make progressive house and electro offerings and have a variety of proper sing along, feel good radio hits. Likewise they both delivered great sets at last years American Ultra Music Festivals.
4. Showtek and/or Noisecontrollers – Every set at Ultra had at least two songs from these artists, whether their individual work or one of their many collabs and I think allowing these guys to team up to devastate the pit with their extensive discography would be just amazing.
5. Madeon – He has had three songs play listed on local radio and his music just seems to me to be perfect for a late afternoon creeping into early evening set. The image of listening to The City whilst the sun wistfully dips below the horizon is magical.
6. The Bloody Beetroots/Steve Aoki- They have likewise both had a few of their songs playlisted and each put on a show lauded for their spectator value. I would choose the Beetroots over Aoki simply because at a festival of this scale, they pitch up with a full band which is awesome. Their music is hard yet so effortlessly danceable that I can’t think anyone in the crowd would have the energy to complain.
7. Avicii – This festival is the essence of mainstream dance and who better to appear on the roster than the man who personifies mainstream itself? Plus, even though I’m not a fan, I think it would be rad to hear 25000 people sing Wake Me Up.
1. Zeds Dead – I would murder every member of the DYD team to see Zeds Dead live and you know what? They would let me do it! Simply because Zeds Dead is just that good.
2. Cazzette – Their stage wardrobe is wild and their music straddles the line between pretty hard electro and progressive house. I happen to be a big fan.
3. Dada Life – What’s there more to say? They are Dada Life! Their shows feature giant inflatable bananas and champagne bottles and their music likewise is hard but is still rooted in mainstream. I want to come pretty and leave ugly.
4. Bauuer/RL Grime – They are both among the biggest names in trap and I think they would slay. Plus one can only dream of what would happen when the Harlem Shake drops and 25000 people go nuts.
5. Kill The Noise – Dubstep may be unsure of its place in the world these days but I think a little bit of filth and machine noises would do any crowd some good and I think Kill The Noise would bring it properly. His production value is just insane.
6. The Glitch Mob – Their music is as close to perfect as perfect can be and they have a complete love show to back it all up. Their music shifts fluidly from epic to introspective and hard to tear-jerkingly beautiful. It would just be amazing to hear their dense tracks pour out of those huge speakers and whisk everyone away in unison to some sort of temporary paradise.
Since this is the South African iteration I think it imperative to showcase every local producer with any semblance of a pulse on the side stages. Where was Das Kapital and the Do Work Records crew? Where were the stalwart figures such as Sibot, Protoculture or Gregor Salto? Where were the likes of Paul Makuta, Tyron Woods, Christian Zanzu, Phizicist or Grimehouse? Come on, we should be displaying our talent completely and utterly across the board. I mean some of these acts even had their music played by DJ Fresh and Euphonik on the main stage. All these acts should be present at both the Johannesburg and Cape Town legs of the event.
I don’t know what it is about electronic artists but they don’t run a good merchandise game. When I go to any event with a rock band, I’m always sure that somewhere in the venue is a small fold-up table laden with shirts for the fans to buy. Out of all the acts that I have seen over the recent years, only Steve Aoki and Haezer have had merchandise at their shows. Trust me, a lot of people would drop top-Mandela for merch.
A Selfish Wish
A backstage pass, a Canon 5D MKIII and the opportunity to be Jordan Loyd’s equipment mule. He happens to be one of the de-facto photographers in the electronic music world and from what I understand, one of the official photographers of the event. So I just want to chance to hang out, shake some hands, learn some tips, gush a little at the cool kid artists and maybe take a photo or two with my trusty Canon film camera and the amazing MKIII.
You can check out my review of the Ultra Music Festival in Johannesburg, click here.