One thing New Times couldn't help but notice was how much quieter the sound coming from each of the stages felt. Perhaps better soundproofing or a compromise with the city and downtown residents was at play, but even with the perceived lower volume, the volume was high enough to hear every crisp detail. (One downtown resident told New Times he agreed that noise was less of an issue this year.)
Here are some highlights from day two of Ultra Music Festival 2022.
AfrojackPrior to taking the stage, Afrojack told New Times his set would comprise "good vibes, and lots of new music. This is Ultra," he said. "All the fans are here from around the world; everyone is watching. There are a lot more rolling sets than just jumping. In my set, there will be jumping, but there will also definitely be rolling beats." True to his word, Afrojack put on a memorable set that mixed hip-hop, dubstep, and EDM into a collaborative trip the audience took along with him. Songs from his set included fan favorites such as "No Beef" with Steve Aoki; "Give Me Everything" with Pitbull, Nayer, and Ne-Yo; and "Ten Feet Tall," featuring Steven Wrabel. Mary Gibson
Carl CoxWith a quick fix, the sound system at the Megastructure was back in a full bone-crushing display. That left Carl Cox, who debuted his hybrid live set on Saturday, to his own devices to deliver the techno that has captivated a generation. Cox bulldozed through the speakers in seemingly impossible ways done. The bass pounded, hi-hats flickered, and an atmosphere of lip-biting raving rain downed on the crowd. The hybrid setup afforded Cox the luxury of adding newfound drum patterns and experimenting more with effects. A sample of St. Germain's "Rose Rouge" — "I want you to get together, I want you to get together" — paired with stick-to-your-ribs bass for one of many memorable moments during his three-hour set. When the knees tightened with exhaustion, Cox blared a boat horn before kicking the bass back in — and we all left refreshed. Grant Albert
DJ SnakeThough he began as a house DJ in Paris, DJ Snake opened with a new sound this year, one that included much more brutal dubstep and electronic sounds to hype up the crowd. He ran through classics such as "Turn Down For What" and "Get Low," yet one of the most talked-about songs from his set was an unfamiliar number that featured an Algerian tune as a nod to his heritage. As the new song played, the DJ filmed the crowd holding Algerian flags and vibing to his new sound. Mary Gibson
Gareth EmeryFresh from his set at the Worldwide stage on Friday, Emery took a break from the enthralling trance music to unveil his emotionally driven live analog set at the Live Stage. Equipped with synths, a grand piano, a drummer, and a slew of singers, Emery brought honeysuckle melodies with each song that at times felt like a slow-dance prom track list. Emery's analog set carried classic trance-laden synths stabs and charged build-ups but also incorporated a suitable numger of live instrumentals. He played a guitar solo at one point and hit the piano keys at another — although there may have been some technical difficulties. "Oh my God, this fucking microphone. Is it finally working?" he griped toward the close of the set. He began to talk for a bit about the inspiration of the project and the accompanying anxiety that came with it as he idly played the piano. Emery introduced guest singer Emma Hewitt for their joint track "Take Everything," demonstrating the meaning behind every song. "I'm really grateful for [Emma]. She gave me an amazing amount of encouragement, and it also led to this song." Grant Albert
MadeonIt's been nine years since the French DJ has graced the Ultra stage, and the Live Stage seating was packed in anticipation. Described as "euphoric" by a mega-fan, Madeon's set took his audience to new heights. He literally hung above the stage for his last songs as the screens broadcast his silhouette and the crowd sang along to every word. Songs included "Shelter" with Porter Robinson and the closer, "All My Friends." Mary Gibson
Oliver HeldensThe Dutch DJ/producer successfully injected tech-house elements into the EDM fortress that is Ultra's Main Stage. During his set, Helden stayed true to his Rotterdam roots and blasted the crowd with techy elements and familiar vocals, including the classic "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life" by Indeep. The crowd picked up what Heldens was laying down and replaced fist pumps for snake hips. "Are you ready for a good time, Miami?" he cried, proceeding to entrance the masses with sturdy bass as he explored the various avenues of house music. At one point, he dropped a deep remix of a Billie Eilish song that could've played nicely anywhere on the festival grounds. At age 27, the Heldeep Record label boss has proven his musical bona fides time after time with an uncanny knack for making the Main Stage move to a different beat. Grant Albert
Sofi TukkerHailing from West Palm Beach and New York, the duo that is Sofi Tukker took to the Live Stage on the foothills of their upcoming album, Wet Tennis, set for release on April 29. It became apparent that the two take a live set seriously. "When we play a live set, we pull out all the steps," Sophie Hawley-Weld told New Times earlier. "We have some amazing dancers that will inject a lot of joy." Her counterpart, Tucker Halpern, added that he thought their set "will just be fun, good vibes." And fun it was. The stage was designed in lush tropical landscapes that gave some color to the otherwise concrete foundation. Hawley-Weld, equipped with a Gibson Flying V, played with gusto as she sang from the discography. Halpern, behind his hardware and in front of the crowd, hyped everyone up. "We debuted this live set up at the last Coachella," Halpern said. "We have a big sculpture — we call it the 'book tree.' It has screens all around it, and when you hit it with drum sticks, it plays different samples."
Many artists are joined by special guests, but the duo recruited help from a spontaneous friendship. "These guys made a flash mob at our show once," Halpern recalled. "We didn't understand what was happening. It was like we were watching a show." Throughout the set, the duo dropped their discography with songs like "Original Sin" and "Drinkee" before ending with the gritty yet luscious track "Purple Hats" accompanied by the dancers. Halpern thrust his hips, Hawley-Weld shredded, and everyone onstage ended with a synchronized dance. "I feel like everything we've done has been because we accidentally surprised ourselves with something really delightful," Hawley-Weld said beforehand. "We're intentional, but we're open to things inspiring us that we had no idea existed." Grant Albert