Ultra Music Festival 2011 is more diverse than ever
A nasty breakup. Harsh words. Public spats. No comments. Whoa, dude, isn't this supposed to be a party?
Yes, indeed. But from the moment New Times web editor Jose D. Duran broke the news this past November that Winter Music Conference and Ultra Music Festival would no longer share the second-to-last week of March, the rift spiraled into soap opera territory as DJs, promoters, and party people were forced into one uneasy alliance or another.
Certain electronic music industry figures — like Club Space owner and vocal WMC proponent Louis Puig, and the Windish Agency's resident Ultra advocate, Steve Goodgold — went aggressively public with their support. Most kept quiet, though, choosing one side or the other for purely practical reasons, such as tour schedules and pre-breakup club commitments. And then there was a third group — consisting mostly of old-school ambassadors like international trend-caller and scene statesman Pete Tong, dance music monthly DJ Mag, and long-standing indie house label Nervous Records — that assumed a nonthreatening position of neutrality, attending both WMC and Ultra week.
But now with Winter Music Conference 2011 in the past, the tension between these feuding electro factions seems to be easing. The average fan doesn't appear to be interested in some kind of extended estrangement between the conference and the festival. And for WMC's annual open-vote International Dance Music Awards, the electronic music community still voted to award Ultra another win for Best Music Event. Even the organizers appear to recognize the benefits of a peace agreement. When New Times interviewed Ultra cofounder Russell Faibisch for this guide, we asked him whether it's likely the two events will reunite for 2012. He expressed optimism, answering, "Always a possibility. It would be really great if we can make it happen together next year."
In any case, all of this messy breakup drama hasn't hurt Ultra. For its 13th annual edition, the festival has expanded to three full days of electronic excess with a 200-plus-act lineup that's just as stacked as ever, featuring dance music legends like Underworld, Carl Cox, and Moby, as well as crossover stars like Crystal Castles, Jinder, !!!, Cut Copy, Röyksopp, and Disco Biscuits — not to mention pop larks such as '80s New Wave godfathers Duran Duran. Add the fact that the fest sold out a full month and four days before its scheduled start date, and 2011 has been Ultra's most massive triumph so far.
Even the satellite events have exceeded the levels of overindulgence set by previous electronic music weeks in Miami. A flood of upstart parties — Swedish House Mafia's Masquerade Motel, Trouble & Bass and the Overthrow's Black Magick Miami, and second-year L.A. import Hard, as well as the first Beatport Music Awards show — all seized significant turf. And still, most of the old, familiar, end-of-March dance marathons returned for their regular slots, including an expanded 36-hour Sunday School starring minimal genius Richie Hawtin, Above & Beyond's Anjunabeats Ice Palace invasion, and the Biscayne Lady beat freak cruises.
So obviously, Miami Music Week is a party. But partying is serious business.
Let the following links be your guide to Ultra and beyond.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.