Prior to Ultra Music Festival 2011, Consequence of Sound’s Editor-in-Chief, and one-time South Floridian, Michael Roffman left me with the simple words of wisdom: “Keep your eyes open.” The advice seems obvious for properly covering a festival, but when that festival has seven stages, is flooded with beautiful bodies from every corner of the globe, and is located in one of the most picturesque locations in the United States (only bested by the view from the hill at Sasquatch!), the task can be a little daunting. Toss in dozens of world-renowned after-parties spread across some of the world’s best clubs and maneuvering through Miami Music Week can quickly devolve into a chaotic mess.
Centrally located in Miami’s Bayfront Park, out-of-town revelers have ample opportunity to explore the city’s many diverse neighborhoods — that is if they can wake up much earlier than the festival’s noon gate time. Coral Gables, South Beach, Little Havana, Wynwood, and Coconut Grove are all within reach via public transit and offer a wealth of activities that capture the essence of The Magic City outside of the festival hysteria. For those that are looking for a bit of serenity before bass-submersion, natural landmarks and relatively-calm Cuban coffee/sandwich shops are never more than a few miles apart in South Florida.
After several visits, and multiple sticky situations, CoS has just a few tips to help reduce some of the side-effects and maximize the potency of the EDM-energy that pulses through Miami’s March Madness. So, download the App, grab some paper and a number 2 pencil, cue up Google Maps, and let’s get to planning.
Senior Staff Writer
“This is not Paris/This is not Beirut/This is Miami”
Given the heat, sun, and limited dining options on-site, early preparation is key to enduring three days of Ultra and having enough energy Monday to impress your friends. We highly recommend reading the Ultra info page, but here are a few extra tips to ease your mom’s worry:
01. Hydrate early and often: Drinking alcohol during the day isn’t generally a good idea, but it is Ultra weekend so epic levels of vice can be expected. Nevertheless, try to follow every few shots with a glass of water and be sure to bring an empty camelback as Ultra is finally providing onsite water for free.
02. Obey the Peace, Love, Unity and Respect (PLUR) rule, but keep your wits: Meet some new friends from across the globe over discussions at the Mega Structure, give the appropriate amount of hugs, but remember to maintain a relationship with a pre-determined festival buddy and don’t take everything a stranger may offer you. This lesson should never be learned the hard way.
03. Stay connected to your friends: For 2013, Ultra will have a cellphone recharging station so be sure to bring a reliable charger. Downloading the app, sharing your setlist with friends, and enabling group chat will all help ease your mind when you inevitably get lost in the swarm of people moving between stages.
04. Grab lunch before entering the gates: Ultra has a strict no re-entry policy, and while there will be pitas, pizza, burgers, fruit, and ears of corn to munch on, stopping by a local eatery will provide valuable energy for the excursion.
Segafredo – 1421 South Miami Avenue – Less than two miles South of Bayfront Park, Segafredo offers some of Miami’s best sangria and bruschetta — a great pre-Ultra snack. For those that are still in need of a little pick-me-up, stop by for a few shots of their signature espresso. Not in a hurry, grab a spot on the patio and take in some SoFlo elegance.
Pasha’s – 1414 Brickell Ave – Within walking distance to the front-gates, Pasha’s is the perfect choice to grab wholesome food, on the cheap, before sweating away a ton of calories. Grab some fresh squeezed apple-pineapple juice and a veggie-kabob platter to fill up while maintaining your spring break beach body.
The Lost and Found Saloon – 185 NW 36th St – Explore Miami’s up-and-coming Wynwood Art District, then swing into the tiny Lost and Found Saloon a specialty beer and hearty lunch. Known for their vegetatian/vegan platters, the saloon also brings in the meat-lovers with their baby back ribs.
Pizza Rustica – 500 Brickell Ave – Having lived in Chicago and spent considerable amount of time visiting New York, I would like to think I know a little about pizza. After years of testing, Pizza Rustica still bakes some of the best concoctions ever to be served on dough. Open until 5 a.m., Pizza Rustica is the perfect spot to grab a few rectangles, some water, and relive the day’s events.
Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens – 10901 Old Cutler Road – If you have never been to Miami, Coral Gables’ Fairchild Gardens is a must visit before heading downtown. Two onsite cafes mean you can enjoy an empanada while exploring vegetation and wildlife that is foreign to the rest of the U.S. Slightly out of the way, bring a camera to document this truly unique experience.
05. Know how you will be getting back home: Do not rely on hailing a cab to get you back to your Ultra staging area. If you arrive early enough, free parking is available if you want to walk, or you can pay between $20 and $40 to park in a “secure lot” — just be sure to lock all your valuables in your trunk. The Metrorail does run late to accommodate for the event, but remember to walk with a friend, grab your transit card early, and know your route before you wonder through the dangerous sections of Midtown.
“Who is Ready to Jump?”
Jamie Jones – 6:00 p.m. at Carl Cox and Friends Arena – Co-founder of the Hot Natured imprint, Jamie Jones is at the forefront of the resurgence of deep house. Often building sets atop a heavy, repetitive bottom end, which is sure to shake the expanse of the Mega Structure, Jones trades the underground tenacity of techno for a much more fun, 80’s discotheque mentality. The perfect combination for an early evening bayside experience.
Drumsound & Bassline Smith – 9:00 p.m. at Bass Station – Drum and Bass has all but disappeared from Ultra, partially due to the rise of alternative forms of bass music, but Drumsound & Bassline Smith have been figureheads in the UK DnB scene for over a decade and are prepared to pummel American audiences with an eclectic mix of melodic vocals strands and 180 BPM deep cuts. The tracks may start off innocent enough, but the trio pull through their drops with filthy bass lines that embarrass America’s crop of cut-and-paste dubstep producers.
Swedish House Mafia – 10:30 p.m. at Main Stage – Love them or hate them, the trio have undoubtedly altered the landscape of touring progressive-house music. Their show has been specifically crafted to large scale festivals like Ultra, and as part of their fare well tour expect for an epic amount of lights and pyrotechnics to be utilized. If you find yourself with a craving for Absolut, try to sneak up close as the dudes are fond of sharing.
Blood Diamonds – 12:00 p.m. at OWSLA Stage – Holding down the opening slot of the OWSLA-curated stage, Vancouver’s Michael Diamond (aka Blood Diamonds) most likely won’t be performing in front of many people, but the early attendants will find themselves comfortably held within his shimmery beats. Unlike many of their OWSLA-brethren, Diamond doesn’t dabble in Jump-Up dubstep or electro-house, instead instigating dance parties with heart-warming dream-pop.
Disclosure – 3:30 p.m. at Live Stage - Hailing from Surrey Britain, brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence (known collectively as Disclosure) are quickly conquering US indie-dance fans with their sensual R&B-meets-deep house aesthetic on tracks like “Latch” and “White Noise”. In 2012, Magnetic Man were joined onstage by Katie B, so it will be interesting to seem who, if anyone, the brothers may tap to provide vocals for their set. Seats in the amphitheater be damned, because this is a set that will definitely get couples grooving.
jozif – 4:15 at Bedrock Stage – Having recently secured jozif’s Balance mix, the producer’s chilled-out house sets are a can’t miss in the warmth of the South Florida sun. With only nine dates currently scheduled in the US, most of which take place during Miami Music Week, this may be one of the few opportunities to hear the London-based artist’s emotive journeys live during 2013.
deadmau5 – 10:45 p.m. at Main Stage – After all the talking about producers just pushing play, Ultra 2013 marks the first time deadmau5 will be constructing his set live on stage. Despite consistently bad-mouthing the festival, deadmau5 has historically reserved special performances for the Ultra-faithful; including an appearance by Tommy Lee in 2010. So, with the entire EDM-world watching, just what will Joel do to celebrate the festival’s 15th edition?
Art Department – 6:00 p.m. at Surface Stage – Better fit as an after-hours selection, it will be interesting see hear how Canada’s Art Department augment their twisted house music to fit the context of a mid-day set. Comprised by veterans Jonny White and Kenny Glasgow, if the duo can splice some beach effervescence into the dark ambiance of Social Experiment 003 all concerns will be resolved.
Dog Blood – 5:00 p.m. at Ultra Chile – The combination of Berlin’s Boys Noize and L.A.’s Skrillex, Dog Blood is a new derivation of the underground sound. Pulling together elements from each producer’s solo catalogue, the collective’s early work is a churning assortment of tracks that disobey the repetitiveness of techno and the build-up breakdown form of dubstep. Is aggressive, chaotic, and quite possibly one of the next sounds to take of across clubland.
Booka Shade (Live) – 10:oo p.m. at Live Stage – They don’t exactly fit the bill as a “legacy act”, but Berlin’s Booka Shade are still a great act for Ultra to pull out of semi-retirement. The duo have played less than two-dozen dates in the US since 2008, so for fans of psychedelic tech-house with an added touch of pop-sheen, this performance is a can’t miss. According to an interview with Beatport, they will be brigning a new visual element to accompany their new EP, Blackout: White Noise.
In the Air Tonight
Ultra might end at midnight, but the aftershows dotting South Florida go on literally all throughout Miami Music Week. As one of the few cities that grant 24-hour liquor licenses there is always a party to be found in Miami. For all the official aftershows, take a peek here. For an abbreviated selection, just peruse below.
Friday, March 15th
Porter Robinson w/Mat Zo at Mansion – $70 via Wantickets
Turbo Hippie Dance Miami Showccase w/Tiga at the Electric Pickle - $20 via Wantickets
Datsik w/Dieselboy at Space Miami – $25 -$35 via Wantickets
Saturday, March 16th
Freq Nasty w/DJ Monk at Chalk Ping Pong and Billiards Lounge – $10 via Wantickets
Pretty Light Music Showcase w/Michal Menert at Delano Lounge – $50 via Wantickets
Ovum & Friends Showcase w/Josh Wink and DJ Sneak at Tree House Miami – $30 -$35 via RA Tickets
Diplo & Friends at Grand Central – $30 via Ticketfly (Presales already sold out)
Sunday, March 17th
Late Night Hangouts
Mary Brickell Village – 901 South Miami Avenue – Not only a good place to find cheap parking, when weary revelers return to their cars they are rewarded with great bars including Fado’s Irish Pub (it will be St. Patty’s Day) and the Blue Martini. Just be sure to clean some of the glitter off before making the journey.
“The Grove” – Head south on South Miami Ave. and make a left onto Le Jeune – The typical co-ed hangout area, Coconut Grove is home to an array of popular latenight handouts including Barracuda’s, Green Street Café, and my own personal favorite Monty’s.
South Beach Corridor – Ask a cabbie or just take the 103 bus - There is truly no limit to the after hours shenanigans that can take place between the 5th and 25th blocks of Ocean, Collins, and Washington. If you’re still in the mood for walking, take a stroll down Lincoln Road and check out all the buskers and street artists/performers.
Rickenbacker Causeway – Located between Miami and Key Biscayne – For all the romantics out there, this is by far the most beautiful angle to capture the Miami skyline. If parked on the north side of the causeway, it’s easy to see both the bustle of downtown and the hue of South Beach while relaxing in the serenity of much needed silence.