wmc feature: it wouldn’t be wmc without ultra and oakenfold

Thousands of people gathered at the Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami for the fifth annual Ultra Music Festival on Saturday. Promoters made sure that everyone new that this was the biggest and best to date with 14 solid hours of music and dancing. Ten music arenas were spaced out across the park with tons of vendors in between.

Mother Nature served up a challenge to the electronica festival with pouring rain in the afternoon. Fortunately, by the time the Streets hit the main stage at 4:30 p.m. the skies were clear, the air was humid, and the people were dancing.

The Streets, traveling all the way from the United Kingdom brought to the festival their unique flavor of garage/hip-hop flavored music. To many attendees surprise, the Streets (Mike Skinner) and another MC were backed by a live band, complete bass guitar, keyboard, and percussion, and contributed a very energetic set.

The massive main stage featured towers of speakers and three large screens for visual aesthetic pleasure. Skinner has a unique stage presence and a sexy cockney accent that makes him fun to watch, even in such an overwhelming environment.

Each of the ten arenas specialized in a certain genre of electronic music. One of the more popular arenas of the day was the Drum and Bass Arena tucked away in the corner of the park. The arena hosted a large number of artists along with emcees. This crowd was certainly into it and didn’t seem to let the rain or the heat interfere with their dancing.

The other big name of the day was Paul Oakenfold. Also representing the UK flavor, he has been setting milestones in house music since the 1980s. Formally of Cream fame, Oakenfold’s performance would have pleased any trance lover.

The day was long filled with dozens of flyers for after parties and tons of dancing. My analogy is that Ultra Music Festival is to the electronic/dance music world what the Vans Warped Tour is to punk rock. It’s big, it’s flashy, it’s commercialized, it’s overpriced, but a few quality acts (Underworld, Rabbit in the Moon, the Streets) do perform at it.

– Kira Wisniewski