"I've probably done 11 out of the 15 years of Ultra," superstar DJ Tiësto confesses. "It's probably one of the most important festivals in the world. To be a headliner there, on the main stage, with the big production, has been very good for my career."

"Ultra Music Festival is one of the largest and most influential platforms for electronic dance music in America," says Kerri Mason, who writes about EDM for Billboard.com. "It's hard to say whether it inspired the growth of EDM or just grew alongside it. But would EDM be where it is today without it? I would say no."

The festival has had a slew of iconic moments. Who can forget Madonna popping up during Avicii's set last year to ask "How many people in this crowd have seen Molly?" — and Deadmau5's subsequent railing against her for trying to seem cool with the veiled drug reference to ecstasy? The Black Eyed Peas performed "Boom Boom Pow" for the first time ever at Ultra 2009 — which perhaps hinted toward EDM's eventual pop crossover. Faibisch's personal highlight was the Cure playing in 2007.

Mason noted how artists debut at Ultra and go on to bigger things. "If you track Skrillex from two years ago, who played a side stage, to last year, when he headlined a main stage, you can see it year to year," she said.

According to court documents, Omes and Faibisch "operated the company on a day-to-day basis as a small shop and rarely observed any corporate formalities" until 2005, when they created a "memorandum of understanding" establishing Faibisch, his younger brother Charles, and Omes as shareholders. The memo specified that "management and operational decision making authority remain with Alex Omes and Russell Faibisch as presently exist in Ultra."

Over the years, the company has grown to include "a very small core team — less than 20," Faibisch says. "Everybody has their role... These are people who have been with us eight to ten years minimum."

Today, Omes is out, and a new partner, Adam Russakoff, is onboard.

Faibisch says that they put in long days due to the complexity of working with people all over the world and that Ultra 2013 will cost $25 million to $30 million to produce.

On August 10, 2010, Alex Omes found himself pushed out of the company he helped create.

According to a lawsuit Omes filed in August 2012 against Ultra's shareholders, Faibisch, his brother Charlie, and their new partner, Russakoff, hatched a conspiracy to oust Omes from the Ultra family he had cofounded so they could control "the now financially successful event." In what the lawsuit describes as a "secret shareholders' meeting," the three voted to officially push out Omes as president of the festival. The reason given by the lawsuit? The shareholders knew that Omes wouldn't agree to break off from the Winter Music Conference for Ultra's 2011 edition.

The lawsuit seeks financial compensation from the other Ultra founders, though court records don't say how much. Documents do not reveal how much the principals take as salary; the company is private, and Faibisch will not say. He insists most of the money is reinvested into Ultra. Omes's lawsuit also asks for dissolution of the company and re-formation of a new one in which Omes would again be in charge. Omes initially agreed to be interviewed for this article, then stopped responding. When contacted, Omes's lawyer referred all questions back to the complaint. According to filed documents, a hearing for an injunction is scheduled for May 30.

All Faibisch will say about the lawsuit or Omes is that "we were very good friends. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him and a lot of love for him in my heart."

Omes wasted no time in trying to regain his crown as Miami's music festival king. He joined legendary nightlife entrepreneur Emi Guerra as principal of a new event organization, Go Big Productions, and in 2011 and 2012 kept one of the most successful dance-music acts, Swedish House Mafia, away from Ultra. He hosted Swedish House Mafia shows concurrent to Ultra, thus drawing away some of Ultra's potential customers.

Then in summer 2012, Go Big announced the UR1 Festival, a two-day, multistage event to be held during the December weekend of Art Basel Miami Beach. It would combine music and visual art, with Kanye West, Lenny Kravitz, and the Offspring as headliners. The expansive lineup also included EDM acts as well as pop, hip-hop, and indie-rock stars.

But the event never came to be. It was canceled suddenly in November 2012, with weather forecasts and, inexplicably, the lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy cited as the reasons. But insiders speculated that sluggish ticket sales were the real reason for UR1's getting the ax. At presstime, the promise of rescheduled dates still hasn't been fulfilled.

A young woman has her leg wrapped around her Ultra fling. She grinds on her newfound lover, talking to him sternly but lovingly. Suddenly, she backs away and smacks him, as though he's said something offensive. Unfortunately for her, the lover is one of Bayfront Park's palm trees, and the whole weird episode is caught on several camera phones and uploaded to YouTube and dubbed a better love story than Twilight. By the Monday after Ultra 2012, she's become a viral superstar.

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29 comments
Tim Pritchard
Tim Pritchard

There's definitely some pros at Ultra Festival. Not really my music scene but a party is a party & Ultra is a huge f'ing party. Party on Wayne.

sticks_7
sticks_7

Ultra Music Festival Hope to see You in 2014 watched 2013 Sets were amazing especially liked hardwell, armin van buren, Skrillex and david guetta.

MusicLover
MusicLover

ULTRA has evolved into the Epitome of Cultural & Human Decadence but if it generates money then why not right? Everyone's for sale and so Miami will become another Vegas. Way to push the culture forward!


mickeybailbonds
mickeybailbonds

I've been there with Russell through Amoeba, Magical Maydaze and Ultra.  Will ALWAYS have much love for Ultra and Russell.  I wish I had stayed in Miami and continued through the process with Russ, but after 08 and The Cure, there wasn't much else to conquer.  EDM has become WAYYY too commercialized.  Russell gave me a hand at getting into the bailbond business and has had an extremely positive impact in my life.  I love him dearly (and Charlie, too, but not so much Adam).  Keep doing your thing, boys, and stop listening to the assholes like "the ultra truth"; you guys make Miami proud!!!

theultratruth
theultratruth

THIS FAMILY HAS ACCEPTED MONEY FROM SOME OF THE MOST HIGH PROFILED CRIMINALS IN THE WORLD. SAY WHAT YOU ARE PROUDLY AND STOP TRYING TO BE A VICTIM! YOU ARE NO MARK ZUCKERBERG! YOUR A MAJOR DIRTY PLAYER IN THE GAME! LOOK I'M MAKING YOU FAMOUS!

theultratruth
theultratruth

"WE THE PUBLIC, FEEL THAT WE ARE BEING PLAYED" 

"GIVE MUSIC BACK TO THE PEOPLE" YES TO EDM !! NO TO ULTRA !!

Jimbo99
Jimbo99

Might wanna publish the short list of who got paid kickbacks along the way too. Notice how the dead grass in the park and crowd issues downtown disappeared for weekend #2 when they paid off the city for another $ 500K ? Guess someone's kid needed braces or that college fund needed seed money ? Who knows, maybe it was a house upgrade just the same ?

Frank Castle
Frank Castle

i wanna see the story behind WMC...that should be good

jjcolagrande
jjcolagrande topcommenter

Nice clip, well-written, plenty of scope and context.. 

As usual, Mr. Ophir sounds like a snob. 

Two weeks of Ultra is a horrible idea for downtown corridor...



smeejay
smeejay

You should be a teacher.

Jimbo99
Jimbo99

@theultratruth @Jimbo99 That's the key to most anything, make that money on the front end and the back end of it all too. It's the bait/lure of an extravagant event. I think those that got arrested on drug charges, well if they aren't smart enough to figure it out, there's having a good time and then just making an azz out of yourself.

theultratruth
theultratruth

@Jimbo99 @theultratruth maybe this has more to do with just being arrested at ultra. maybe it has to do with morality, and codes we live by as human beings.     ::::::::focus on the light going off in your head, and not the one flashing in front of your face:::::   

Jimbo99
Jimbo99

@theultratruth @Jimbo99 Again, we're talking about Ultra & being arrested and needing to be bailed out of jail. Why would one get arrested at Ultra ? Probably because that person is making an azz out of themselves. Urinating in public ? Looking for a hooker ? Public intoxication ? On some controlled substance(s) ? Fighting ? Those that can't conduct themselves in a socially responsible manner are for the most part the troublemakers that wind up needing bail bond services. If one doesn't want to take that risk, stay away from the event ?

As for someone that attempted to kill another ? One would have to wonder what the alleged victim did to merit that kind of response. People generally have no reason to try to kill anyone. Not unless you did something to drive them to do that ? Did you rip them off or screw them over in a big enough business dealing, whether it was legal or illegal ? Or was it because someone slept with another's wife ? In any scenario, there is cause & effect. Just me, but sometimes exercising a little judgement & common sense, you have to know when it's time to go to sleep every night ? The acid test for anything should be whether whatever happened was good for all involved.

theultratruth
theultratruth

@Jimbo99 @theultratruth you don't have to do drugs or be drunk to end up in jail. I didn't read half of what you wrote but I know what it's about. now that the issue is more to light......we don't need bail bonds man....actually its just another unnecessary process in the system. why can't we pay within the confides of jail itself? Also, let's say for example someone try's to kill you, but lets say its not booked as attempted murder, then that person can bond out and kill your ass. I don't expect you to have any morals, I just hope you do. But then again your probably hypnotized by Ultra and all the fireworks. Your all sheep. Unless your a wolf too.

Jimbo99
Jimbo99

@theultratruth @Jimbo99 That's the point, nobody I know has ever been in jail and going there isn't an option in my lifetime or theirs, we're law biding citizens not losers. My life is drug free, and that includes alcohol. Anyone that needs an illegal substance to feel/experience life deserves to be in jail in my opinion, because that's what the rules are. I don't want to be around anyone doing or selling drugs, because inevitably they'll wind up in jail. Drugs are a game that being the loser on or selling them is what makes you the police department's customer. Raise the standards for yourself and those in your life and bail bond scumbags are the last people in this community you'll ever meet in your lifetime. Those that went to Ultra on drugs put themselves in a position to have bail bond people become a part of their life. I'm not looking to finance their lifestyle. If I stand in line at a store to make a purchase, that's longer than I want them around me just the same as the drug addicts and abusers.

 
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