By Jacob Katel
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By Laurie Charles
You don't have to be an EDM junkie to know that Ultra Music Festival brings some of the best DJs on the planet to the Magic City every year. (Eric Prydz, Carl Cox, and David Guetta sound familiar?) But one thing that's got us beyond ecstatic about the 2014 fest is its killer live-act lineup.
Sure, the head-spinners of Ultra are what attract hundreds of thousands of beat freaks from across the globe to downtown Miami's Bayfront Park, but this year's indie-dance, hip-hop, and electro-house crews are even more of an excuse to partake of the three-day throwdown.
Here are Ultra 2014's five best live acts.
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M.I.A. Maybe it doesn't seem to be so, but Maya Arulpragasam (AKA M.I.A.) is as hard-core as they come. She's been sued for $1.5 million by the NFL for flipping off 85 million viewers during her Super Bowl XVI halftime performance with Madonna. She's earned Grammy nods, topped the Billboard charts, and still never worried about pissing off the music biz's power brokers. In short, M.I.A. is a total badass. As she herself says: "Live fast, die young/Bad girls do it well."
MGMT. The last time MGMT performed in Miami, singer Benjamin Goldwasser told New Times: "Our live show didn't have the best reputation a few years ago. And I think we were still learning how to do it. At this point, I think we're all really confident with what we're doing live." That was way back in 2010, when Benji and his partner-in-psych-pop Andrew VanWyngarden were getting ready for a sold-out show at the midsize Fillmore Miami Beach. So we can only imagine the level of live expertise that the MGMT dudes plan to unleash on the Magic City for a gig as big as Ultra. Oh, and here's a fun fact: Ultra 2014 will be the first time these "Kids" stand on the same stage as M.I.A. since they opened for the rapper at Vassar College in 2008 during her People vs. Money tour. Be sure to give 'em "a great big congratulations."
Chance the Rapper. This Chi-Town rapper seems as if he can't get enough of our Miami swag. Just a few months ago, Chance killed it at Basel Castle with a stage presence and energy so bonkers that we at New Times believed he "could have easily carried his own headline performance." Maybe it's his lyrical flow, strange sense of humor, or ability to turn any track into an instant hit. (Just check out his latest collab with Skrillex, "Coast Is Clear.") Whatever it is y'all love most about Chance, we can surely agree this guy's got skills. And he's gonna tear it up at Ultra.
Basement Jaxx. In the early 2000s, Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe emerged from the depths of the underground party scene in South London (where they had their own Basement Jaxx club night) to top the U.S. dance charts. Over the years, they have snagged numerous awards for their work, including a Best Electronic/Dance Album award at the Grammys for their third studio record, Kish Kash, and have even broken into the pop game with their 2004 hit, "Good Luck." But even though Felix and Simon have seen the pinnacle of success, they've always stayed true to their distinctly underground sound.
Dizzee Rascal. "New York, L.A., Tokyo, Berlin, Miami, Rio, Milan, Ibiza." Dizzee Rascal "love[s] all these places." But we like to think if the British hip-house and grime star were forced to pick his fave, it'd be Miami. Not only because he'll finally perform at UMF, but also because the love the Brit expresses for his hometown of London on the single "Love This Town" is the same scorching passion every true 305er feels for our own city.