Ultra Music Festival 2018, Day Three: The Wailers, J.E.S.u.S., Above and Beyond, Rabbit in the Moon

The final day of Ultra Music Festival included a performance by Ultra '99 headliners Rabbit in the Moon and a live show — that's right, a live show — by the Wailers, strange as it may seem. At the Arcadia Spider stage, Jackmaster, Eats Everything, Skream, and Seth Troxler did amazing work as J.E.S.u.S., while Above & Beyond went, well, above and beyond at A State of Trance.

Of course, the biggest surprise — and the worst-kept secret — was Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso coming together as Swedish House Mafia for the first time since 2013. The trio didn't skip a beat, playing hits like "Miami 2 Ibiza," "Greyhound," and "Don't You Worry Child," as the Main Stage erupted into a frenzy of lights and pyrotechnics.

Beyond EDM's biggest heavyweights reuniting, here are the other highlights from Day Three of Ultra.

The Wailers. There is something a bit incongruous about the greatest reggae band of all time playing the most infamous EDM festival in the Western Hemisphere. Or rather, there should be. But these seemingly very different subcultures have more in common than one might think. Jamaican DNA can be found in genres from American hip-hop to British jungle and drum and bass. Also, reggae and EDM value peace, love, and understanding. They both enjoy partying. And they each value very specific types of, let's say, perception-altering substances.

The Wailers' set was a relaxing oasis in the barely controlled chaos elsewhere at Bayfront Park. These guys are excellent, veteran musicians; some of the guitar solos felt closer to Zeppelin than Ziggy. Seriously, these dudes can shred. And with Julian Marley subbing for his dearly departed dad, it was as though the Legend was right up there with them. —Douglas Markowitz

J.E.S.u.S. In my three years covering Ultra, there has rarely been a bigger party – whether in the booth or on the ground – than J.E.S.u.S.’ closing set at the Arcadia Resistance Stage Sunday night. The fantastic foursome of Jackmaster, Eats Everything, Skream, and Seth Troxler all came prepared to throw down, and Ultra responded in kind, mustering an appropriately large and enthusiastic crowd that rarely wavered.

Beginning on a house-heavy note and winding through techno, fleeting moments of disco and everything in-between, fun was the operative word of the night; an inflated condom made several rounds through the crowd, and a gentleman who passed by with an inflated llama in tow proved particularly popular as well. But most importantly, every soul in attendance was moving; more dance circles formed than you could shake an ass at; some people were worked into such a frenzy that they felt compelled to lift a friend on their shoulders and parade him around for all to see; and there was rarely a moment where hands – whether dozens of them or hundreds – were not up in the air.

If you were standing a good distance away from Arcadia, you could see the accumulation of beers that had gathered in the booth, as well as catch glimpses of the fraternal jostling going on amongst the four DJs. For many people, friendships cemented by late nights spent on dirty dance floors surrounded by booming electronic music are what kept them sticking around club world and festivals like Ultra; sometimes, it’s nice to see that enthusiasm expressed in the booth as well. —Zach Schlein

GTA. DJs from all over the world dream of playing Ultra and spend significant time poring over the songs that might get the international, but mainly Miami-based, crowd moving. For GTA, Ultra is a hometown show, and the DJ duo brought all the Miami bass booty jams to its Sunday night set at the Ultra Worldwide Stage, in sharp contrast to the spaced-out revelers at the A State of Trance stage in the background.

There was, of course, Uncle Luke’s “I Wanna Rock” and “Oye Morena.” Celia Cruz’s “La Vida Es un Carnaval” and “Suavemente” by Elvis Crespo, Steve Aoki's Friday night guest performer, also made their way into the mix. They also dropped “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” perhaps as consolation for Daft Punk most likely not closing out the festival. Human chains began forming a mass exodus to the main stage halfway through the set, but the hesitation to leave was palpable. It was a set that gave a second or third wind to even the most exhausted festival attendees. Even the most hardened introverts got off the wall, into some fishnets, and onto the dance floor. – Celia Almeida

Above & Beyond. "Who would've thought after 20 years of partying, you'd be dancing so beautifully?" Above and Beyond's method of communication with the audience at their A State of Trance closing set was unconventional. Rather than interrupting their set with vocal messages, they typed out their missives on the huge circular screen above the stage, ensuring that the massive crowd in the tent could read every word. It was as if they were prepping an Instagram story, which is probably what many in the crowd were doing anyway.

It was clever, especially considering that their new album is called Common Ground. As the trance gods of their era, they must be firm believers in the dance floor as a great equalizer, in the idea that we can all come together under an enormous tent and party and love each other and live in the moment. Beneath the dazzling lights, I saw couples embracing, I saw friends sharing memories, and I was mesmerized by the visuals in front of me. For a minute, the idea of PLUR seemed resonant.

And then some white girl literally shoved her phone in my face so I could take a photo of her and her friends. As I was writing this. Like... rude, who does that? They didn't even say thank you, they just gushed over the pic. "SO cute." Whatever. I forgive them. I have more PLUR than they ever will. —Douglas Markowitz

Rabbit in the Moon. As Ultra OGs, Rabbit in the Moon has an intimate knowledge of how to drive Ultra audiences crazy. The band seemingly couldn’t wait to start, beginning long before its posted set time of 10 p.m. with an extended introduction sampled from the unsettling 1967 interview “A Child Again,” a staple of many beloved industrial records.

Once producer David Christophere was joined onstage by Bunny, the frontman-cum-shaman-cum-Mad Max-ian nightmare man who guides Rabbit in the Moon’s audiences on their journeys, the show took off and never let up. Beginning with “I’m Your Drug,” which was accompanied by familiar company logos and brands splashed in dark red, Rabbit in the Moon then wound through the various sounds they’ve worked on over the years. A considerable portion of the early set was electro-focused which, even if unintentional, was an appropriate way to honor both Miami’s dance music heritage and the sound from which Rabbit in the Moon emerged. In any case, it only felt right to have Ultra’s original headliners close out the live stage in the festival's 20th year. —Zach Schlein

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