Ultra Mustic Festival hits Miami

With the hot weather slowly creeping up and South Beach brimming with even more tourists than usual, it already feels like summer is arriving. Just in time, the Winter Music Conference revives Miami music life, giving us the perfect opportunity to say goodbye to winter and embrace the looming end of the spring semester.

Returning for its 23rd year, Winter Music Conference is an event that provides a priceless experience and publicity for artists and DJs from around the world. Offering entertainment at its best, Miami is transformed into a whirlwind of activity from DJ spin offs and a demo listening workshop for developing artists to the debut of the International Music Awards. But WMC is not just a huge rave fest. It proudly hosts seminars and panels that address the industry and its main concerns, such as music acquired through the Internet.

Events for WMC began as early as Monday. WMC introduces a range of artists at venues in downtown Miami and South Beach, and hits its climax on March 28 and 29 with the Ultra Music Festival.

Celebrating its decade anniversary at Bicentennial Park, Ultra is open to the public and tickets can be purchased for the whole weekend or a selective day, with prices ranging from $70 to 350. Promoting “The Decade Experience,” Ultra offers more than 200 artists, DJs and producers spread out over 10 stages, boasting the largest music festival of its kind in the U.S., according to the official site.

Ultra celebrates must-see upcoming artists from Europe, including French electronic duo JUSTICE, who is sub-headlining Friday’s main stage, and BBC Radio One DJ Annie Mac, who is making her Ultra debut. London DJ Erol Alkan, who is famous for remixes of The Chemical Brothers, is making an exclusive appearance as well along with German electro duo Digitalism, who is headlining the dance rock stage.

The international invasion continues with Canadian electronic group MSTRKRFT and oldies pioneers such as Shy FX, Goldie, Ed Rush and Optical. Beat boxer Killa Kela, who has previously collaborated with artists Plan B and Pharrell Williams, is a must-see at the drum and bass stage,

But do not despair, U.S. bands are not forgotten at WMC. Surprisingly, 70 percent of the artists performing are American, including LA RIOTS, a Californian indie dance band also known for their remixing.

Moby also returns to Miami performing on the Carl Cox and Friends Stage after just a few months of his participation in Art Basel. Ultra is still loyal to Miami’s dance veterans with Tiesto returning to headline Friday night while Underworld and Paul Van Dyk headline Saturday’s main stage.

Of course, WMC’s plethora of musical celebration doesn’t stop at Ultra. There’s plenty of spring fun to be had, including pool parties at the Surfcomber Hotel, BBC Radio One, taking over on Friday with Miami’s own DJ Craze, and personal appearances from hot new talents Sam Sparro and Santogold. For those students who are 21, check out new downtown club The Vagabond. The Vagabond will be offering up artists ranging from Groove Armada to up-and-coming London DJ Kissy Sell Out.

Sure enough, student favorite Studio A is pulling out the stops to challenge Ultra. Studio A will be host to WMC Freakout, starring Erol Alkan, Simian Mobile Disco, Boys Noize and Rory Philips.

Most of Ultra’s lineup is playing all around Miami throughout the week, so if you can’t snap up tickets you certainly won’t miss out. With over 40,000 total participants expected at Winter Music Conference, the dance music culture in Miami gleams with opportunity for anyone to get immersed in sound with full force.

To plan your own WMC experience, more information can be found at wintermusicconference.com/events

Gemma Dempster may be contacted at g.dempster@umiami.edu.