Ultra Music Festival is epic. Until it's not.
There is much about the EDM fest that's awe-inspiringly, eye-bulgingly, brain-meltingly awesome. It's among one of the best raver parades on the planet. It's got 200-foot LED stages that look like arcades from outer space, complete with lasers, pyrotechnics, and other expensive gimcracks. And it can't be denied that its lineup is perpetually loaded with hundreds of the world's best DJs, whether commercial or underground, trance or house or techno or bass or dubstep or trap.
But it's not all spectacle and fun. Here are Ultra 2014's ten worst moments.
See also: Ultra 2014's Ten Best Moments
Curse of the Superstar DJ
Seven days before Ultra 2014 was set to begin, the first famous disc jockey went down when Tiësto smacked his head on an LED screen during a set at an EDM fest in San Jose. He was sent to the hospital, found to have a concussion, and forced to cancel the next night's show in Los Angeles.
The following week, Avicii suddenly fell ill in Miami. He was rushed to the hospital. He was admitted for some mysterious illness. And his gig as part of the Avicii Hotel at the SLS South Beach hotel was nixed.
That same day, Afrojack fell on his face while doing a Winter Music Conference and Miami Music Week promo appearance. And he too was sent for emergency medical care.
The spectre of mass superstar DJ cancellations hung over Ultra like the shadow of Skirllex's spaceship. But in the end, Tiësto and Afrojack were both able to fulfill their Ultra engagements. Unfortunately, Avicii had to cancel. And so did Laidback Luke.
At least Luke's reason was his wife, DJ Gina Turner, going into labor. And the birth of a child ain't no curse. S. Pajot
Avicii's Gallbladder Surgery
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For a full day after the Swedish star's hospitalization, the cause of his illness remained a mystery to the general public. Rumors abounded, but there was no official word. Some said he had already left doctors' care. Others suggested he was still in serious trouble.
Eventually, it was announced that the Swede required gallbladder surgery. The secret had been revealed. But that meant he wouldn't be headlining Ultra 2014.
Almost immediately, wails of disappointment went up from Avicii superfans, many of whom actually seemed more preoccupied with not getting full value for their $399.95 plus fees than the health of their EDM idol.
That's pretty selfish, bro. S. Pajot
Damn the Chainsmokers. Damn those pretty boys to Hell.
First of all, let's be real ... That "#Selfie" song is terrible. It's like listening to every Afrojack song ever while trying to avoid a conversation with some blabbering moron that won't shut up. We'd say it's this generation's "Valley Girl," but we have too much respect for Frank Zappa.
That being said, this poop machine has a great press team behind it, because every third person at Ultra bought the Kool-Aid and took it through an IV like saline. We saw "#Selfie" kandi necklaces and "Go Fuck Your Selfie" t-shirts at every turn. It was like everyone collectively decided to make the same lame joke and give up on originality, almost exactly in the way the Chainsmokers did when they put their name on this release.
After that deluge of underwhelming stimuli, we'll enjoy their steady descent back to obscurity in the coming years. Kat Bein
MGMT Almost Falling Asleep
Indie-electro rock group MGMT are scenester darlings. So why did it seem like they hated themselves so much during their Ultra set?
Sure, most people know them for the seminal album Oracular Spectacular, and that came out all the way back in 2007. But shouldn't they be happy to have had megahits at all? Cut Copy's biggest hits are even older, and they performed "Hearts on Fire" with all the gusto of a high-school kid on his first big break.
MGMT's lack of enthusiasm for their back catalog -- and hell, even their new material -- was painfully obvious. You won't win over new fans with an attitude like that. So did the crowd thin because they'd already played "Kids"? Or did the masses split because the group on the stage was hard to watch? Kat Bein
See also: Ultra 2014: M.I.A., MGMT, Basement Jaxx
Saturday Night Blues
On Friday -- day one of Ultra 2014 -- everyone was fresh. They were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to fucking rage like rabid bunny rabbits.
But the thing is, those yummy feelings of peace, love, unity, and respect dwindle as the stresses of exhaustion, dehydration, and substance abuse set in. Not that everyone is doing drugs at Ultra, but for those who are partaking, even by the second day, their serotonin is all used up and their brain is desperately looking for new ways to generate good feelings. Mostly, it can't, because now all its good-feeling chemicals are depleted.
So, Ultra's usual Saturday crowd tends to be much snippier, more self-involved, even pushy. A mean partier is not a fun partier. Oddly enough, by Sunday, the vibe mostly returns to its chill beginnings, and then everyone (thankfully) goes home. Liz Tracy
Another reason why Saturday's 2014 ravers were in a bad mood .... The weather forecast.
The meteorologists had been calling for severe thunder storms. And all day, the Miami sky was clogged with clouds. Then as dark finally fell, the wind picked up and it poured.
By South Florida standards, this "storm" was some weak shit. But everyone got at least a little soaked. And Mother Nature succeeded in ruining the vibe.
The worst part, really, was the temporary closure of many Ultra performance areas, including the live and radio stages, causing sets to be delayed and cut short, which prevented any truly climactic moment from emerging on what's supposed to be the fest's big night.
The stagnant pools of empty water bottles, soggy cigarette butts, and discarded raver masks weren't so awesome either. S. Pajot
Ultra Selling Out
No, not "selling out" in the naive, vaguely anti-capitalist electronic dance music purist sense. We mean literally getting rid of all available Ultra Music Festival passes.
Now, a sold-out fest would seem like a good thing, right? Except that tickets for Ultra 2014 weren't all bought up until its second day while tix for recent years' editions were gone as early as two and a half months before the gates even opened.
There are a number of possible reasons for sluggish ticket sales. We think it's mostly price. But the cynics suggest "EDM is dead." S. Pajot
Which brings us to ...
Ultra 2013: Redux
The point of Winter Music Conference -- and consequently, Ultra Music Festival -- is to take the time to expose the scene to the new music, genres, artists and all other forms of musical merriment that'll shine through and set the standard for the rest of the calendar year.
Unfortunately, this year's festivities turned up practically nothing. Anything that was "new" sounded more like everything from the last three years. And more often than we'd ever have liked to admit, we heard songs that were already popular the last time around. It is definitely way too late to be playing 2 Chainz' "Birthday Song." Especially during musical March madness.
As far as UMF production was concerned, we were diggin' the new main stage look. But everything else, from the general layout to the spectacle of the Carl Cox mega structure, was pretty much exactly the same. It was like time-traveling back to the year before, but only for one weekend. We guess there's not much coming in 2014. Kat Bein
The Trampling of Security Guard Erica Mack
All of our previous "worst moments" are petty and insignificant by comparison with the senseless gate-crashing that resulted in the hospitalization of Contemporary Services Corporation security guard Erica Mack with a broken leg and head trauma.
The Death of Adonis Escoto
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Yet another tragic incident that marred Ultra 2014 was the death of 21-year-old Adonis Peña Escoto. He and his friends had attended the festival on Friday. They returned on Saturday, and that evening, Escoto apparently began feeling dizzy. It's unclear why he might've become sick, though it's been suggested by his aunt that "maybe someone put something in his drink without him knowing."
Whatever the cause, his friends left him in a car to sober up, according to the aunt. But instead, he died.