Ultra Music Festival

Ultra Music Festival 2019 Day One: Marshmello, Sophie, Odesza, and Others

Ultra festivalgoers came ready to party. View more photos from day one of Ultra Music Festival 2019 here.
Ultra festivalgoers came ready to party. View more photos from day one of Ultra Music Festival 2019 here. Photo by Daniella Mía
click to enlarge Ultra festivalgoers came ready to party. View more photos from day one of Ultra Music Festival 2019 here. - PHOTO BY DANIELLA MÍA
Ultra festivalgoers came ready to party. View more photos from day one of Ultra Music Festival 2019 here.
Photo by Daniella Mía
Sophie. The live stage is tucked in the corner near the Ultra Worldwide stage and the Radio stage, but it’s hard to miss. Its huge covering invited guests to escape the sun and hydrate between sets. Sophie was up next. With a thin crowd, it didn’t seem many onlookers were ready for another set. But Sophie was. She gracefully walked across the stage to take the booth as her stans called “yasss” for an appearance about eight minutes late.

“Is that a guy?” a raver asked his friend, peering over his dark boxy sunglasses. “No, she’s a woman.” Sophie was the only trans woman to grace the stage Ultra 2019, and she planned on making it known. Her décolletage made its debut, peeking from her heather gray blazer. Her ginger hair flourished in a wavy set, hovering above her shoulders.

Sophie's logo flashedon the massive screens in various neon colors, signaling her start. While the crowd was thin, she kicked off her set with her signature rubbery beats that real fans know and love. The ravers bounced almost involuntarily. They danced, they jumped, they whirled in circles as Sophie continued. Her set included hints of her single "Vyzee" along with other unrecognizable pulses. She kept things very instrumental to start, and not one soul seemed to mind. The crowd began to grow as she played Benga’s “No Bra, No Panties," which mixed perfectly into her production.

The dancing quickly came to a halt when the set took a hard left into a track that sounded nothing short of nails scratching a chalkboard. The screeching continued until she noticed the crowd starting to thin. So she volumed down, then powered up into an upbeat number with tantalizing vocals and heavy bass. While Sophie wasn’t the most popular act on the lineup, she sure made her mark. — Cristina Jerome

Adam Beyer. By all accounts, Adam Beyer & Cirez D — also known as Eric Prydz — put on one of the nuttiest live shows in techno. Unfortunately, their Ultra set had a few things working against it, namely, the lack of their customary light rig and the absence of Prydz himself. Earlier this week Prydz cancelled all of his Miami Music Week appearances for unspecified reasons. Fortunately for Ultragoers, the Carl Cox Tent remains as transfixing as ever and Adam Beyer more than holds his own behind the decks. Although anyone who’s caught Beyer at Space could tell you as much, newcomers counting on Prydz’s presence ought to have left satisfied regardless; melding pounding techno music with an ear for melody, Beyer make the arduous trek to Resistance Island more than worth it.  — Zach Schlein
click to enlarge Odesza came to play — with a drum line. View more photos from day one of Ultra Music Festival 2019 here. - PHOTO BY DANIELLA MÍA
Odesza came to play — with a drum line. View more photos from day one of Ultra Music Festival 2019 here.
Photo by Daniella Mía
Odesza. If you came to Ultra four years ago to hear Odesza play, you were highly disappointed. The pouring rain canceled the electro-pop producer duo’s set, leaving ravers pissed and wet. Luckily, this year, the skies were clear, and there was no better place to witness their live set than under the shaded Live Area. The lights went black as the packed crowd screamed at the top of their lungs. Odesza's visuals took you on a ride through space as they showed a space station orbiting the earth. The lights came up, and a full drum line and horns section walked in announcing the duo’s appearance.

Catacombkid and BeachesBeach took the stage, dressed in all black, and the crowd lost its shit. After an instrumental piece, Catacombkid took the stage to welcome the crowd. “Ultr, how you feeling out there?” he yelled into the mike. The crowd roared back. “Four years ago we got rained out here in Miami, and we couldn’t play. We’re just happy to be back!”

The duo began giving the crowd what they wanted: instrumentals, a light show, and hypnotizing visuals to match. The two went into a remixed version of “Locomotion,” by Little Eva which was later accompanied by the band. As the band exited, Naomi Wild entered to give the crowd a taste of their single “Higher Ground.” Draped in a blue dress, her bangs bounced as she delivered her vocals. “Ultra, what’s going on? Can you sing with me?” she called as she took center stage. While the crowd didn’t sing along, they threw their hands up in excitement for the featured act.

Odesza continued to serve what they'd missed four years ago. Through instrumentals by the duo along with help from their band, the pair powered through their hourlong set. “I don’t want this to stop!” yelled a raver dressed in a hot pink bra and panty set and a long braided ponytail. She swung her hair around and slapped a guy in the face. He didn’t seem to mind; he was too busy living his best life. The lights went black again only to power up with the Odesza drumline and horn section ready to end the show. As the horns blew their final blow and Odesza thanked Miami for the last time, it’s safe to say that the four year wait was worth it. — Cristina Jerome

AC Slater. AC Slater has been in the game for some time. The Night Bass maestro has made his name for trafficking in just that: bass. Playing to a packed Worldwide stage and accompanied by lunar visuals worthy of the Night Bass name, Slater mixed up the sound he’s known best for with his fair share of hip-hop derived vocal samples and fleeting moments of melody. The visuals imploring him to ‘pump up the bass’ had a synergistic effect, pushing him to do what needed to be done to whet the crowd’s appetite for Dog Blood. Although the back of the stage had its fair share of passed out malcontents — including one person with a bandana wrapped over their whole face — his tasteful drop of Drake’s “God’s Plan” had the people who could still muster the energy shuffling their feet. — Zach Schlein
click to enlarge The Dog Blood duo of Skrillex and Boys Noize. View more photos from day one of Ultra Music Festival 2019 here. - PHOTO BY DANIELLA MÍA
The Dog Blood duo of Skrillex and Boys Noize. View more photos from day one of Ultra Music Festival 2019 here.
Photo by Daniella Mía
Dog Blood. It’s a very different world than the one Dog Blood left behind the last time they were active — the world’s gone to shit and the EDM wave they rode has retreated back into the sea. Not that any of that matters, considering how formidable Boys Noize and Skrillex are as producers and DJs. Combining Boys Noize’s blog house knowhow with Skrillex’s dubstep expertise, Dog Blood is nothing less than an assault on the senses. Miami Music Week has marked their grand comeback on the electronic stage, with performances around the city all week. Their set at the Ultra Worldwide Stage was the grandest of all: picking up right where AC Slater left off, the pair wasted no time in getting to work. Underneath an array of lasers, the crowd did their best with the little room that could be afforded. Soundtracked to breakbeats and distorted vocals, those who could find enough to room to swing their arms around and jump up and down made their presence known.  They paid tribute to what came immediately before the EDM explosion with Switch’s bloghouse staple “A Bit Patchy” and honored the recently departed Keith Flynt by dropping a snippet of “Breathe.” Ty Dolla $ign even found the time to make an appearance immediately following Kanye West’s “Fade.” For a name as grotesque as Dog Blood, they offered nothing but a lovely time. — Zach Schlein
Marshmello. Ultra Music Festival celebrated its 21st birthday this year, not with a shot, but with a new venue. The new site not only allowed guests to enjoy the sunny oasis of Virginia Key Beach, but to have prolonged set times since there’s no way in hell a noise complaint could occur. For the first time, Ultra sets were extended past midnight, allowing Marshmello to take the stage at 12:41 a.m.

The crowd began to chant for Marshmello as white lights shined upon a dark Main Stage. Suddenly, they cut to blue, and stretched synthesizers sounds wailed into the crowd of over 80,000 people. Marshmello appeared on stage wearing a camouflage long sleeve and multi-colored glowing helmet. His single “Wolves” featuring Selena Gomez kicked off his set, and the crowd loved every second of it.

“Let’s go Ultra, let me see your hands up,” yelled Marshmello into the mike. From there, he went into Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling,” as euphoric rainbow visuals projected on the screens, making even the soberest of ravers trip. “I want to hear you all sing this,” Mello demanded into the mike. As he played Post Malone’s “Better Now,” fans sang along in key. As the night grew into well past 1:30 a.m., the crowd did not run out of energy.

Every time Mello asked the crowd to sing as he faded the sound out for their live vocals, the audience turned it up a notch, and there was no sign of them slowing down. Marshmello continued into his set, playing remixes of pop favorites including DJ Alice’s "Better Off Alone" and his track with Anne-Marie, “Friends,” while lights flashed, fireworks soared, and flames engulfed the night sky. Marshmello may have set the tone for the rest of Ultra’s weekend with an epic set — but those who lingered to catch it risked a safe trip home, as shuttles stopped running at 1:30 a.m. leaving many stranded. —Cristina Jerome
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Cristina Jerome is a freelance music writer and event producer based in South Florida. She spends her time listening to R&B and making purple flower crowns. Follow her work on RnBae.com.
Zach Schlein is the former arts and music editor for Miami New Times. Originally from Montville, New Jersey, he holds a BA in political science from the University of Florida and writes primarily about music, culture, and clubbing, with a healthy dose of politics whenever possible. He has been published in The Hill, Mixmag, Time Out Miami, and City Gazettes.
Contact: Zach Schlein