Ultra Music Festival continues to be the top-tier festival of choice for many electronic dance music aficionados across the globe. Year after year, each new edition of the internationally famed festival continues to leave attendees in awe and begging for more.
Everyone has their own reasons for choosing one festival in particular to surpass the rest, whether it be that festival’s overall production, sense of community, or its continuously stacked lineup curation. And while Ultra Music Festival consistently showcases all these qualities impeccably with every production, the festival’s curators never fail to recruit the most pristine artists in the game every year.
Every edition of Ultra that we’ve attended has completely surpassed our expectations. At the end of day three, we always question how any other festival can top what we just experienced. Reflecting on this has made us realize that Ultra Music Festival has had some of the most uniquely curated lineups featuring debut performances that are unheard of in the industry. This is just one of the many qualities that make Ultra so special, but its what sets the festival apart from many others.
This 23rd edition of the world’s leading electronic dance music festival consisted of some of the most ethereal performances we had yet to experience. Here are 5 artists that completely stole the show over at Bayfront Park in the heart of Downtown Miami last weekend.
Charlotte De Witte
Some may say that recruiting techno-queen Charlotte De Witte to perform on the Ultra Main Stage was a bold move. But this decision only comes to show that the mind-altering techno genre is slowly working its way to reach the mainstream. The KNTXT label boss took control of the main stage decks right before the sun was scheduled to set on day one of the festival, captivating attendees underneath the breathtaking sunny Miami skies like never before. There’s quite no party like a daytime techno party, and Charlotte De Witte did a phenomenal job at showcasing that there are no boundaries when it comes to mixing hard-hitting acid techno, even when the sun is still out. It’s rare to see a female artist take over the Main Stage at a festival of this caliber, and it’s safe to say that the Belgian DJ and producer made history by changing the game for female electronic musicians moving forward. We’re still not over her spectacular daytime performance.
Kaskade and Deadmau5’s newest project, Kx5, has only been on the radar since last year. The two dance music icons have only performed under this new project a few times before making their way to the one and only Ultra Music Festival in Miami. In true Kaskade and deadmau5 fashion, the dynamic duo was slated to close out the remarkable festival on day three over at the Live Stage. Most would believe that top-tier artists like these two would perform on the main stage, but in reality, the design and setup of the live stage created the perfect ambiance for an enthralling performance of this magnitude. For starters, the energy that the two prodigies bounce off each other is just matchless, and their combined live mixing expertise is unheard of. Throughout their 90 minute ensemble, both Kaskade and Joel performed some of their own dance classics like “Disarm You” and “The Veldt”, leaving attendees feeling completely nostalgic. But it was their new Kx5 heaters like “When I Talk”, “Escape”, and “Sacrifice” ft. Sofi Tukker that kept the crowd yearning for more. What a performance.
Our favorite hypnotic soundscape master REZZ hit the live stage on Friday night for as we anticipated, yet another unforgettable performance. An overpowering amount of sensations overcame the crowd for the duration of her closing set and whether it be the vibrant colors, the mesmerizing visuals, the quaking crowd or the throbbing bass, everyone was most certainly shook. The first thing your eyes took to was of course REZZ in all her glory standing behind the decks with those infamous spiraling goggles, but the second was the elongated fire pits on either side of her. Throughout her hour plus set, flames burned in a gorgeous line and painted the scene for her hard-hitting melodies, creating what felt like a very intimate experience amidst the monstrosity that is Ultra. It essentially felt like we were in our own world and despite all the other thousands of people in the surrounding area and all of the other closing sets coexisting that night, all that mattered was right then and there. She spun cult favorites like “Edge,” “Relax,” “DRUGS!” and “Taste of You,” amidst IDs and collabs with Subtronics, Raito, Deathpact and Quackson & Wreckno on their new single “Gyrate.” Perhaps the best thing about REZZ is that you will never leave feeling disappointed. Every time she comes to the stage she delivers and she pours her unique personality and captivating stage presence into all of her shows, without exception.
Saturday’s stacked Live Stage lineup featured a burning hot performance from Kayzo for his Unleashed XL Live show. His fiery production and wild stage design served as a captivating framework for the heated set that lay ahead. Kayzo hit the stage with several bandmates to deliver an engaging and inspiring show. The hardcore stage setup came complete with beastly animals locked in cages, visuals depicting thorns and dark forests and an enormous amount of pyro. The show came further to life with raging guitar solos and crowd participation during popular alternative rock classics like his rework of Papa Roach’s “Last Resort,” his tribute to Linkin Park with “Numb,” and Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” The set featured collabs with GHOSTKID, Our Last Night, Subtronics, Atreyu and more and also included a slew of IDs. Kayzo ended the night with a sweet surprise appearance by none other than his longtime girlfriend Cray to perform their collab “Love Me Hate Me.”. It was a perfect way to bring the show to a close and seeing them together on stage, dancing and singing felt so right. Ultra’s Live Stage has a way of creating one of a kind spectacles that can truly never be recreated. The freedom that it provided to Kayzo as well as all the other artists across the three day weekend, year after year, is highly commendable. The ability to transport the crowd to another dimension and give life to a new and highly personalized show for each and every performance creates something unlike any of the other stages can. This was easily one of the most interactive and memorable sets of Ultra 2023 and left us wanting more.
Swedish House Mafia
Of course we have to include the massive return of globally respected dance music icons, Swedish House Mafia, to the shores of Bayfront Park. Marking five years since their previous (and even bigger) surprise reunion at Ultra Miami 2018, it made so much sense to watch them take back the Main Stage in 2023 for one of the festivals that means the most to them. In the beautiful words of Axwell, “Swedish House Mafia and Ultra are a perfect match.” The highly anticipated set began with a drawn out intro of their smash hit “Turn On The Lights again” with Future and Fred again. The set continued on with a variety of classic and deadly beloved SHM tracks like “Miami 2 Ibiza,” “Antidote,” “One,” and “Don’t You Worry Child” mixed in with heated collabs and an array of mashups. An elaborate drone show closed out the evening (and the entire festival weekend) beside the guys and high above the gigantic Main Stage crowd. Depicting a variety of innovative images like a figure bicycling, a face with goggles, a man turning while slowly raising the Ultra logo and more, the drones delivered a stunning and futuristic visual display that beautifully complimented Swedish House Mafia’s forward-thinking, visionary approach. To end another beautiful year together in Miami next to Swedish House Mafia felt incredible and left another legendary mark on Ultra’s legacy.
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