The Ultra Music Festival Miami 2023 brought together some of the biggest names in dance music, delivering a weekend of unforgettable performances. From unexpected collaborations to classic hits, the festival showcased the versatility of the genre and proved that even though EDM may be past its prime, it continues to evolve and surprise us. Here are the highlights from the weekend, including Tale Of Us return to Megastructure, Charlotte de Witte’s Main Stage debut, and Swedish House Mafia’s controversial closing.
Top Moments and Performances from Ultra Music Festival Miami 2023: the highlights
Tale Of Us
To see the Italian duo Tale of Us, crowds gathered at the Megastructure. Carmine Conte and Matteo Milleri have earned a reputation for their protracted, mysterious build-ups and synth-heavy releases throughout the years. They adhered to their routine during their Sunday performance at Ultra.
The two used silence as a potent technique, depriving the audience of sound for nearly ten seconds. They also began songs with melodies and lulling voices while returning to heavy bass at later points.
The performance of Tale of Us is proof that a DJ can create a set extraordinary by incorporating mysticism, engrossing techno, and the sound of quiet.
Swedish House Mafia
The final act was supposed to be the well-known Swedish supergroup Swedish House Mafia on Sunday night. They took the stage at about 9 p.m., but there was an unidentified 15-minute delay; “Finally! Fucking at last!” The group explained their delay during the performance by saying that “other DJs performing a bit too long,” maybe alluding to Guetta’s earlier set.
Their performance, which included favorites like “Calling On,” “One (Your Name),” and “Don’t You Worry Child,” was exhilarating despite the little setback. The reaction, however, was divided, with some fans expressing support for the trio’s new style while others voiced dissatisfaction at not getting the same emotions as the SHM from their early days due to their hurried and contentious finish.
Charlotte de Witte
It would have been unthinkable ten years ago for “Age of Love,” the trance masterpiece, to be performed at an EDM event. Yet, times have altered.
De Witte, who is renowned for her proficiency in fast-paced and dark techno, bravely took the Main Stage and gave the festival a brand-new sound. The crowd struggled at first to interact with the unfamiliar beats because they were used to EDM, and they started to depart. De Witte stuck to her no-holds-barred techno, though, complete with pulsing bass, voice samples, and her remix of “Age of Love.”
The crowd eventually recognized the contagious sound and enthusiastically embraced it. De Witte remained unapologetic and faithful to her distinctive flair the entire time she performed.
Hi-Lo b2b Testpilot
Deadmau5 performed a set that included Motörhead and metal in 2016 at the Megastructure for A State of Trance. Joel Zimmerman, however, favors a more sober demeanor when appearing as Testpilot.
The duo provided the Megastructure with a much-needed dose of dark techno by collaborating with Oliver Heldens, who played as his techno alter ego Hi-Lo. A remix of Bjarki’s “I Wanna Go Bang” and altered voice samples added to the set’s intensity as the bassline unceasingly pounded. Zimmerman also released remixes of his own song, “Sometimes Things Get, Whatever,” and Tiesto’s classic, “Adagio For Strings,” which hasn’t been used much lately.
Adam Beyer B2B Cirez D
Due to illness, missed flights, and the pandemic, it took almost five years to get the Swedish producers Cirez D and Adam Beyer together at Ultra. But that’s all in the past now, as the team swiftly caught up. Together, the Swedish techno duo balanced Prydz’s love of trance-inducing arpeggios with Beyer’s ability to keep things from getting too gloomy. Yet, the bass did its magic and the two extra effects brought buildups to dizzying heights, making strobe lights flicker and lasers shoot past the stage as they got deeper with each track and allowing listeners to travel a far distance.
The 2015 chart-topper “Heros (We Could Be)” by Alesso featuring Tove Lo opened his Main Stage set, laying the groundwork for a progressive house set full of up-and-coming tunes. A remix of Katy Perry’s “When I’m Gone” and Calvin Harris and Ty Dolla $ign’s “Under Control” are among the notable songs. For their performance of “Words,” the DJ was joined on stage by the Swedish vocalist Zara Larsson. The highlight of Alesso’s performance, though, came when he performed “If I Lose Myself,” his 2013 duet with One Republic. The audience sang every phrase back to him right away, whether they were in the front row, in VIP by the sea, or in line for pizza.
Alesso and Martin Garrix performed their most recent single, “Look Within Our Hearts,” before closing the night with “Calling (Lose My Mind),” solidifying their status as EDM legends.
Martin Garrix must have wondered where everyone disappeared at some point during his performance. The Megastructure tent, which was packed to the gills for Eric Prydz and his visual presentation, HOLO, seemed to lure the audience. The Swedish producer’s performance consisted of a large array of LEDs while a brief ambient interlude played. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a cyborg’s arm carrying an iPhone poked its head out of the lighting setup.
The stunned audience witnessed cyborgs emerging from their slumber, a Beluga whale, a Chinook helicopter landing, and an astronaut approaching so closely that you had to take a step back over the two hours. Prydz’s track selection sent listeners on a trip through sound, with every drop and melody precisely timed to match the visuals. The music flowed easily.
Even if it took an extra minute or two for a drop, the crowd didn’t appear to mind. The images would occasionally be reduced to emphasize the lights and get the audience back to the beat. From beginning to end, there was a sea of cell phones, but that was a tiny price to pay to see Prydz transform sound into light.
Tickets for Ultra Music Festival Miami 2024 are already available.