Ultra Music Festival: A simple 15-act itinerary for March 25 to 27
Let's be prepared, beat freaks. There is absolutely no reason to wait till we're trapped at the bottom of a 1,000-foot k-hole to start planning our Ultra Music Festival itinerary. So before digging out our dosage, stripping down to our rubber underwear, and temporarily leaving behind these human husks we call our bodies, we've gotta take some time to script our trip through Ultra Land.
Obviously, with 200-plus house heads, rave-tastic trance masters, and rogue dubsteppers overrunning outdoor stages, immersive arenas, miniature geodesic domes, and other pseudo-futuristic monuments to electronic tuneage, this little scheduling session could easily spiral into total unmanageability. But for the benefit of easy comprehension (especially since we'll all soon be so effing high our feet will seem to disappear), let's keep the itinerary extremely simple, scheduling only five stops per day.
Friday, March 25
Ultra Music Festival
Ultra Music Festival: Friday, March 25, through Sunday, March 27, at Bicentennial Park, 1075 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Gates open at 4 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are sold out; ultramusicfestival.com.
Tinie Tempah. On the Main Stage. As an honorary junior member of Swedish House Mafia, this 22-year-old Brit MC took us from "Miami 2 Ibiza." And after wilding out to a few of his other hits, such as glitchy grime cut "Pass Out" and spacey radio bait "Written in the Stars," we've concluded that Tinie comes equipped with fairly reliable party GPS. He will lead us into Ultra Land.
CSS. On the Live Stage. Whoa, dude. At this point, we will undoubtedly begin to feel the early effects of that 500mg ketamine kick. So we'll totally need to soak ourselves in positive vibes and pure sonic fun. Hence, Brazilian party-pop princess Lovefoxxx, her tie-dyed spandex bodysuit, and four Cansei de Ser Sexy friends.
Erasure. On the Main Stage. Back in the '80s, Erasure's stage show was a fantastically shameless extravaganza of glitter, glammed-out dancers, and giant silvery swans. And while we doubt this English duo is gonna bring that kind of elaborate theatrical production to Bicentennial Park, wouldn't a surprise synth-pop superspectacle be awesome?
Avicii. On the UMF Korea Stage. When the sky suddenly goes dark, we'll probably be busy clawing our way out of one of those infinitely deep, drug-induced mind pits. No doubt the answer will be dance. And even though Swedish producer Avicii stole his name from the Buddhist term for the most remote recesses of Hell, he specializes in big-room house bangers brighter than the freaking sun. So let him light the way.
Tiësto. On the Main Stage. Normally, we wouldn't want to get lost in a feel-good flood of human emotion. But isn't the Ultra experience partly about embarrassing yourself? So c'mon, let's agree right now: When the time comes, we will keep cruising atop that cresting electronic wave of beautiful music with Dutch DJ legend Tiësto. No regrets.
Saturday, March 26
Classixx. In the Heineken Dome. After a few hours and a quick recuperative blackout, the second day of our trip to Ultra Land will dawn. And there's no better way to be woken up than the electro-disco hipster house of Los Angeles tag team Classixx. It's like cotton candy and black coffee for breakfast.
Boys Noize. On the Live Stage. If this Berlin-based buzzsaw operator's recent Miami Noize mixtape is meant to be a preview of the all-out electro-house assault he plans to unleash upon us at Ultra, it looks like he won't stop until he destroys us. So just to be safe, we better pack earplugs, a roll of surgical gauze, and some syringes loaded with double doses of epinephrine.
Sander Kleinenberg. On the Main Stage. House music is a virus, and Sander Kleinenberg is spreading that shit like patient zero. The most recent breakout: his 13-track debut artist album titled 5K. Already known for aggressively attacking the central nervous system with a combination of superpotent sounds and tripped-out viral video, Kleinenberg promises Miami something he calls 5K Live, "a mindblowing audiovisual experience." It's almost inevitable — Sander is gonna get us all sick.
Rusko. At the Tower of Ultra. This Brit bad boy will dubstep all over our ass in a billion different ways. Of course, there's that rep-making club killer, "Cockney Thug," a four-minute brick of hyped-up, wobbly bass that's been remixed by almost the entire world, including Drop the Lime and Diplo. But he's also prone to shots of power pop, blogginess, and outright noise.
Carl Cox & Friends. To end Day Two, we gotta head over to Carl Cox's personal party palace. For one, he's taking Sunday off. So this is our absolute last chance to hang with the Three Deck Wizard. And for another, look at the lineup: Moby, Fedde le Grand, Afrojack, Steve Aoki, and Yousef. It's like a mini-summit for the Commission of International Party Starters.
Sunday, March 27
Fake Blood. On the Live Stage. One time we regained consciousness after a dangerous bender to find ourselves covered in some sort of red, sticky substance. After a moment of profound fear and confusion, we figured out it was fake blood. Anyway, that's the level of disorientation this electro alchemist inspires with his surreal, sample-heavy screamers. So yeah, don't fall asleep at the foot of the Live Stage. We don't wanna wake up drenched in fake blood again.
Armin van Buuren. On A State of Trance 500 Stage. Still wide-eyed and buzzing off his seven-win showing at this year's International Dance Music Awards, Armin van Buuren is back and ready to slip into A State of Trance. Yes, it's the name of his radio program. But it's also a strange brain space where van Buuren is emperor and we're just one of his million dancing minions.
MSTRKRFT. On the Live Stage. Born in 2005 from the ashes of the recently reunited disco-punk duo Death From Above 1979, MSTRKRFT always carried a little bit of latent rock 'n' roll influence in its ass pocket. But the new single, "Beards Again," is obscenely up front about its axe-thrashing ways. It's basically Iron Maiden versus a drum machine. Throw those horns.
The Glitch Mob. At the Tower of Ultra. OK, beat freaks, it's time to dig out another dose of Special K and follow L.A. trio Glitch Mob into the basement. Most likely, though, we won't be getting too much of those classic crackling break beats and steep synthy descents. With its debut slab, Drink the Sea, the Mob has evolved. So instead, expect arty, brooding electronica that's perfect for getting high and contemplating the shape of your hands.
Chemical Brothers. On the Main Stage. In the wake of our slo-mo subterranean freak-out with Glitch Mob, we'll be buried so deep that only the Chemical Brothers' bombastic big-beat anthems might possibly save us. Like some giant divine hand, "Block Rockin' Beats" will rip us right out of that 1,000-foot k-hole. "Setting Sun" will toss us into the ever-roiling rave pit. And "Do It Again" will make us wish this whole out-of-body trip to Ultra Land wasn't over.
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