Justice at Ultra Music Festival 2012: Prog Rock Takes Over Main Stage

Can't say we're surprised that Justice's set at Ultra Music Festival was reminiscent of the duo's sophomore effort, Audio, Video, Disco, an album of which we aren't exactly a fan. And last night's performance didn't convince us either. But that's not to say we didn't enjoy it.

A Justice show borrows heavily from 1970s and '80s arena rock experiences. There are lights, smoke, lasers, and plenty of in-your-face screeching "guitars." Except there wasn't an axe-slinger to be found anywhere on the Main Stage.

How much of a rock 'n' roll experience was it? Well, Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay opened their set with the "Star-Spangled Banner." Was it the ghost of Jimi Hendrix? Not quite as they quickly dove into Audio's lead single, "Civilization."

That led into a prog rock version of "D.A.N.C.E.," which stripped away the Michael Jackson wink and nod, replacing it with something closer to Pink Floyd. Sure, you could still hear those little kids singing about "Doing the D.A.N.C.E." and being a "P.Y.T." But the reworking basically fell flat. It's no improvement on the original. And yet it was still an entertaining highlight.

But even with an emphasis on rocking with their cocks out, there was quite a bit of back-and-forth between Augé and de Rosnay's two studio albums, Audio and the more playful Cross, including a stunning mashup of "DVNO" and "Horsepower" that made the stage seem as though it had morphed into the monolith out of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

However, the real showstopper was "Stress," our favorite track off the duo's debut. The stage turned demonic red as the chaotic track cast an unnerving tone over the festival.

So yes, Justice's set was highly undanceable at times. But who the fuck cares? It wasn't a bad thing for Ultra to get knocked on its ass for a few seconds.

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Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran