^
Keep New Times Free
4
| Reviews |

Ultra Miami 2016, Day One: A Giant Metal Spider Stole Our Hearts

This year, Miami's Ultra Music Festival turns 18 years old. Which means, under Ultra's new age restrictions, it can finally attend itself (while smoking a cigarette).

And the festival's maturity is starting to show. Day one of Ultra was largely a smooth success. Even Mother Nature cooperated (which didn't happen during last year's soggy opening day of Ultra). The Carl Cox tent is back (and still stunning), the live stage is packed with talent (and still criminally underattended), and the Main Stage is a masterpiece of modern technology (shoutout to Steve Lieberman and company).

Some of the day's headliners included Martin Garrix, Miike Snow, Jamie Jones, Carl Cox, Yellow Claw, and too many others to name here. We've discussed a few of our favorite below.  

Arcadia’s Landing Show at Resistance Arcadia Spider
Last year, Ultra gave techno, deep house, and whatever else that didn’t exactly fit the EDM mold a place with the Resistance stage. (Arguably, the Carl Cox tent also steers clear of big-room house and the ilk, but Resistance felt grungier and more intimate — in a good way.) Last year’s stage, the Afterburner, was provided by Arcadia Spectacular, a performance-art collective. New Times was told depending on the crowd’s reaction, Arcadia would maybe return in 2016 with an even bigger stage. I’m guessing Ultra deemed last year’s trial run a success — I know I did — so this year, Arcadia returned with the Spider, a mechanical arachnid that soars above the crowd. The stage really shows its chops during “The Landing” show, in which the Spider awakens to scan the audience and deems humans: “Destructive. Threat to planet. Threat to self.” Arcadia’s show has an environmental message that, I’ll admit, seemed a bit too on the nose. (I could see a party with a message working better at Burning Man.) Still, what followed was an amazing display of acrobatics. Dancers suspended in air grabbed well-placed extras in the crowd and enveloped them in a web a while a soundtrack of techno, jungle, and noise played on. (I might have even heard a Kraftwerk sample.) But the real showstopper came in the last ten minutes, when, suddenly, fire shot out of the Spider. The heat and brightness caught the audience by surprise, and everyone collectively ducked. The fire really didn't get close enough to put anyone’s safety at risk, but it had everyone on edge and in awe at the same time. The 30-minute “The Landing” show will be performed again on Saturday and Sunday, and I highly recommend you don’t miss it. — by Jose D. Duran

John Digweed
Is there anything left to say about English DJ John Digweed that Wiki entries and electronic-music outlets haven’t already? Over the span of two decades, Digweed has permeated and defined house culture in a manner few have been able to match. With that in mind, it makes sense then that the crowd populating his set skewed noticeably older, with many a tanned 40-odd-year-old partying like it was 2001. Resting comfortably in the belly (or thorax — there’s a reason we’re journalists, not arachnologists) of the Spider and accompanied by dazzling lights, Digweed spun an alluring set that caught many an Ultra attendee in its proverbial web (get it, because of the Spider?). Dismissing familiar house favorites and crowd pleasers in favor of tracks one would likely never hear outside of a John Digweed mix, Digweed’s Friday set was as interesting as it was danceable. — by Zach Schlein 

Chet Faker
Chet Faker’s set at Ultra’s Live Stage should have been a gloriously slick hour of the Australian’s wicked brand of electro-tinged neo-soul. Instead, it was plagued by lengthy technical difficulties that cut his time in half, frustrating the uncommonly large crowd that had arrived early to the Bayfront Amphitheatre (as well those watching on the live stream, where he was cut out of the broadcast entirely.) After a ten-minute delay, the audience grew anxious. After 20, there were grumblings and confused glances. Around the 30-minute mark, a small exodus began toward other stages. Once Faker finally began, he quickly apologized and dove headfirst into the essentials of his catalog. That included his viral hit, the bumping, downtempo cover of Blackstreet’s R&B classic “No Diggity,” and the elegantly pained “Gold.” The show started in earnest with “The Trouble With Us” as a full backing band emerged from the shadows, allowing Faker to indulge in his disco-happy, funk side. The unperturbed Faker crooned and sashayed across the stage. At one point, he playfully snatched a fan’s selfie stick out of the front row, filming himself before turning it on the audience. Sadly, Faker’s shortened set was over in a flash, and at best, he was able to salvage something with a brilliant 30 minutes, but at worst, it felt like a tease of what could have been. — by Angel Melendez

Caribou
Following in the footsteps of many great multi-instrumental acts on the Live Stage, Caribou’s Friday performance was woefully underattended. However, those who did make it found themselves treated to an ecstatic, colorful testimony to the power of electronic music. Although his records are produced in isolation, Dan Snaith, the man better-known as Caribou, has successfully enlivened his records — animated, though, they already are — through the support of a full live band. Running through cuts off his two most recent records, 2010’s Swim and 2014’s Our Love, Snaith and company covered a wide gamut of moods and expressions, ranging from the danceable domestic drama of “Odessa” to the sensitivity and tenderness of “All I Ever Need." Most impressive of all was the set closer, “Sun.” Working in tandem with the orange glow illuminating the band, “Sun,” perhaps more than any other song that will be performed this weekend, embodied the transcendence that can be found in the repetition and mantras of dance music. — by Zach Schlein 

Martin Garrix
At 19 years old, most people are just leaving the protective watch of their parents, sloppily learning to maneuver their way around a hangover and adult responsibility. Dutch producer and DJ Martin Garrix, however, is reaching an international pinnacle. The “Animals” star closed out the Ultra main stage, packing the final hour with a high-octane mix of shiny, happy, pop-house. It wasn't a bold set or even anything unexpected. Usher didn't crash the show, as he did during Garrix's early-evening set in 2015. He didn't rock the boat with any experimental sounds or genre-pushing vibes. He kept things straightforward and traditional, staying true to that post-Swedish House Mafia EDM sound. Essentially, he played it safe, but when 19 looks this easy, it's hard to imagine there ain't still room to grow. — by Kat Bein

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.