Ultra's third day was intense. Things were getting real Mad Max out there in the field, what with the stranded, tired, and simply out of their minds wandering around in the swirling dust bowl that surrounded the outer tents.
Still, the party didn't stop in its final stretch, and day three boasted the best dubstep/bass lineup of the whole festival.
It all went down in something dubbed the "Tower of Ultra," which was a misnomer because it wasn't a tower at all, but rather a dome-shaped tent. (Perhaps the "tower" part was the structure atop which the DJs held court?) Unfortunately, though, this tent really wasn't big enough to reflect dubstep's popularity in 2011, and hundreds and hundreds of fans crowded around its fringe trying to hear what was going on inside.
If you weren't within the confines of the actual structure, though, this was nearly impossible. Less than 50 yards away, the booming State of Trance tent drowned out nearly any other sound. If you were caught between the two, you were in a sonic no-man's-land where neither genre was made sense.
So 12th Planet was pretty much the last proper dubstep artist of the day that you could still hear if you didn't park yourself inside the tent at noon. The L.A.-based DJ-producer went on around 5:30, and there was still a huge crowd, but not too much spillout.
As usual, he played hard, and stuck mostly to by-the-book dubstep except during a brief foray into drum 'n' bass. "Any junglists in here?" he asked before that, which was the first time we'd heard the word "junglist" publicly used in years. Awesome.
Much of the end of the set, though, was devoted to 12th Planet using his position of influence over a crowd to big-up other new artists. One highlight was when he dropped his joint track with Skrillex, "Needed Change," which was played by basically every bass DJ this week.
Later, from among the crowd of a million friends on the DJ platform with him, he invited Swedish singer Jinder out to perform her song "Youth Blood." Though the song's almost two years old, she appears to have re-aligned herself with the Trouble & Bass crew who's pushing it hard again. Less than 16 hours before, she had performed the same song with Flinch at the Trouble & Bass and Overthrow castle party.
Her Bjork-y vocals were nicer than the ear-splitting rinse-outs of "Needed Change" and the crowd listened politely while Drop the Lime, undetected, proudly took video of it all from the tent's outskirts.
For the last track, 12th Planet skipped dubstep again to play what he described as a song by his "favorite rap group from L.A." It was "Yonkers," by Odd Future's Tyler the Creator. For anyone with an Internet connection and a cursory reading of blogs, this wasn't exactly a new discovery. But it was refreshing to hear a DJ pushing something he loves and not just another obvious, crowd-pleasing banger.