Ultra Music Festival 2013: Ten Acts We're Excited to See
In almost month, Ultra Music Festival will kick off its six-day marathon of EDM madness in Bayfront Park and with it bring a slew of electronic acts to Miami, some of which you can catch pretty often at Miami-area nightclubs and others that rarely (if ever) make Magic City cameos.
We were really hoping for some acts to make an Ultra appearance (OMFG, the Knife will you just come to Miami already!), but the acts announced so far pack a mighty punch of blips, bass, and breaks to make any dance music fan squeal with excitement.
So wash the dirt off your furry boots and break out the plush animal hats, 'cause you're going raving in 30 days!
Here are the acts you'd be stupid enough to miss.
10. Azealia Banks
If Azealia Banks' music sounds familiar that's because it is -- especially if you grew up listening to hip house music circa 1990. Banks owes as much to Madonna's "Vogue" as she does to contemporaries like Beyoncé. And cuts like "1991" and "212" have all the gay boys dancing hard these days, which means it's only a matter of time until the straight masses follow.
9. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
Bad news: This totally just a DJ set. Good news: It's still TEED (AKA Orlando Higginbottom) in the flesh. British musician made his major-label debut last year with Trouble , delivering complex and beautiful sonic landscapes. When we caught Higginbottom at the Electric Pickle last year, we were pleasantly surprised at how much energy he puts into his live performances. And yes, like we said, it's a DJ set, but check it out anyway and hope Ultra books him again for a live set.
8. Sleigh Bells
Bro, if you are going to Ultra for the sick sets by Swedish House Mafia and Avicii, we're warning you, stay clear of Sleigh Bells performance or risk having your house music vibes completely annihilated by the New York-by-the-way-of-Florida duo. Part metal, part dance-rock, but pure noise, Sleigh Bells seems to create catchy melodies from chaos. If there is a chance a mosh pit will break out at Ultra, it's during Sleigh Bells set -- and frankly, we can't wait to see the look on everyone's faces when PLURality disappears for 45 minutes. This may be Ultra's riskiest booking yet.
On the other side of the spectrum, if you need a break from all the hard beats and rumbling bass, Yeasayer will be there to keep the festival vibes going without completely rattling your brain. The band may fit better at festivals like Coachella or Bonnaroo, but with Passion Pit and Empire of the Sun having played Ultra in the past -- and fitting the same bill -- we expect festival-goers will appreciate taking a moment to put their dancing shoes away for a minute.
6. Crystal Castles
Nine years of chip tunes and noisy breakdowns, and Crystal Castles doesn't show any signs of slowing down. You either love them or hate them -- there is no in between. But in our opinion, they've released three amazing albums, and left us with a multitude of killer tracks like "Crimewave," "Courtship Dating," "Baptism," "Empathy," and "Affection." They'll return to Ultra for a third time, having performed at the festival every single time they've dropped a new LP.
5. Major Lazer
In case you hadn't heard, Switch is out of Major Lazer. But Diplo hasn't skipped a beat, bringing in Miami-based DJ-producers Jillionaire and Walshy Fire to replace him. (We'll give you a moment to bask in the hometown pride. Are you finished? Great, let's continue.) 2012 probably saw the release of Major Lazer's best track to date, "Get Free," which is a jarring departure from the dancehall riddim of cuts like "Pon de Floor." Diplo, you had us at "hello."
4. Booka Shade
The German duo are sex on vinyl, which is surprising because German-produced EDM is usually so cold and steely. That's not to say there still isn't plenty of Deutschland traits to be found: the absolute perfectionism, calculated hooks, well-timed breaks -- but Booka Shade somehow makes it feel warm and fuzzy. If you are trying to think if you've ever heard a Booka Shade track before, Google "Body Language." Yea, that's them.
3. Richie Hawtin
Every Ultra, Richie Hawtin kills it. He'd probably take our number one spot if it weren't for the fact that he's always at Ultra. Still, don't hold that against the man. He makes the price of admission worth it. The level of talent and precision he brings behind the decks is simply outstanding. So when Hawtin's set time comes up at the festival, drop whatever it is you are doing and run. You'll thank us later.
2. Hot Chip
Arguably, LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip are the two biggest dance-punk acts of the 2000s. However, since James Murphy has retired the LCD moniker, it's up to Alexis Taylor and co. to keep the genre going strong. And with the release of 2012's In Our Heads , one thing is certain: Hot Chip only gets better with age.
We really don't care what Deadmau5 does behind the decks; we are only interested in what he has to say while on Ultra's main stage. In fact, Joel Zimmerman hasn't released a good track in ages. But if there will be a "Have you seen Molly?" moment during Ultra 2013, it will probably be during Deadmau5's set. He got a little mouthy last year, calling Ultra overpriced among a few other not-so-nice-things , but we guess he swallowed his pride. Yes, the prick in the mau5 head will definitely say something passive aggressive and stupid. If Ultra is smart, they won't hand him a microphone. Then again, if they're smart they probably will. No such thing as bad press.
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.