This year’s lineup for Ultra Music Festival is arguably its most impressive selection in its 15 year history. With genres as diverse as psytrance to hip-hop represented, it is potentially the most eclectic lineup the festival has ever hosted. While mega acts such as Swedish House Mafia, Deadmau5, and Tiësto will be a staple in most people’s weekends, we’d like to take the time to highlight the best acts and stages from prominent genres outside of mainstream EDM. Click past the break to see which dubstep, deep house, downtempo and techno acts you can’t miss at Ultra Weekend 1.
OWSLA Stage delivers genre-bending bass music.
In the past year, OWSLA has grown to be a tremendously formidable label, and as far as dubstep goes, Weekend One’s OWSLA stage is your mecca. With Kill Paris lending his R&B dubstep and groovy glitch hop/midtempo productions to the stage, the OWSLA tent is great way to start your Saturday. A few hours later, trance-infused dubstep producer Seven Lions will take the stage, bearing an impressive catalogue of delicate, yet roaring bass productions. Following Seven Lions will be the impeccable and generically-enigmatic offerings of KOAN Sound, followed up by none other than talented French turntablist team Birdy Nam Nam. The M Machine will then take the stage for a unique live set.
If you only make it to the OWSLA stage for one set on Saturday, have it be The M Machine.
Having made our list of “must see Ultra rookies,” there is no doubt in our minds that the M Machine are poised to deliver a phenomenal Weekend One set. Their cosmic brand of emotional and energizing bass music spans everything from dubstep, to midtempo to progressive house, and a “live set” from the trio entails everything from live singing to live synthesizers and sampling.
Dubstep? Check. Move on to the Live stage.
Ultra’s Live stage has always brought a unique flavor the festival, and this year is no exception. While Friday will boast live dubstep act Modestep and music visionary Nicolas Jaar, Saturday will feature an extraordinary range of talent beginning with the future garage soundscapes of Disclosure and ending with both famed UK live act Faithless and psytrance giant, Infected Mushroom. Thievery Corporation will bring a refreshing, worldly downtempo perspective to the stage, while Pretty Lights will capture the best of hip hop, dubstep, jazz, and soul with his glitch hop charm.
Of all the renowned talent featured on the Live stage, don’t miss Nicolas Jaar or Pretty Lights.
Never underestimate the creative prowess of Nicolas Jaar. The fruitfully imaginative DJ has demonstrated a sonically diverse palette worthy of endless praise, and his Friday performance from this year’s Live stage will be exceptional to say the least. Saturday’s performance from Pretty Lights also comes highly recommended. After headlining the Live stage last year, Pretty Lights’ much anticipated return will be bolstered by both a new stage setup and an album-worth of new material.
Surface stage delivers extensive deep house selections.
As described on the UMF website, Ultra’s Surface stage is a “brand new concept arena held each Sunday of the festival… a ‘who’s who’ from the world of the underground scene.” Fulfilling their promise to bring more deep artists, Ultra’s Surface stage is literally stacked with flourishing less noticed talent. The experimentally-inclined Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, or TEED, kicks of the core of the day, only to be followed by standout Israeli DJ, Guy Gerber, and forward-thinking Canadian duo, Art Department. The sensually deep stylings of Maya Jane Coles are soon to follow, as well as the technical hands of both Maceo Plex and Claude VonStroke.
If you only make it to the Surface stage for one set on Sunday, make sure to catch Maceo Plex.
While it’s difficult to justify picking Maceo Plex over Maya Jane Coles for the highlight of the Surface stage, we can’t ignore the incredible production behind Maceo Plex’s tracks, nor his two decades of DJing experience. His transformation to house under the moniker Maceo Plex has been a thing of beauty, and with a touring schedule that rarely makes it to the US (let alone a US festival), Maceo Plex’s Sunday set from the Surface stage is a must for any true house music fan.
Deep house? Check. Move on to the Carl Cox & Friends Arena.
Carl Cox’s eponymous stage at Ultra is always a treat. With its longer set times, minimally-driven music, and charismatic leader, the Carl Cox & Friends Arena is a breath of fresh air from the progressive and electro house offerings of the Main Stage. While we don’t have the space to feature all of the artists, the entirety of the Carl Cox & Friends Arena is sure to be astounding. Friday will feature highly recommended sets from Hot Creations label head Jamie Jones as well as dance music veterans John Digweed, Carl Cox, and Fatboy Slim. Saturday will feature an impressive array of techno and tech house from the talented minds of Nicole Moudaber, Loco Dice, and Richie Hawtin.
Of all the renowned talent featured at the Carl Cox & Friends Arena, don’t miss Carl Cox or Richie Hawtin.
Carl Cox has become as integral to Ultra Music Festival as the palm trees and scantily clad women. Both his sound and stage presence have come to define the the deeper side of Miami’s dance music legacy, and no UMF experience is complete without a techy, minimal, multi-deck set from Carl Cox. Richie Hawtin’s recent revival into the spotlight of the electronic world has landed him a headlining spot on Saturday, which Hawtin is sure to make the most of with his innovative mixing techniques and gyrating techno selections.