Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ultra SA 2014

It feels so surreal, sad at the same time because it's over but glad to have experienced it and looking forward to what the future holds from South Africa and this great franchise. I've always been a massive fan of UMF and it's on my bucket list to visit the main party in Miami one day but with the current exchange rate drama it just wasn't feasible. Luckily though the guys at Electric Music heeded my and I'm sure many others call, after 2 years of planning and negotiating, Ultra South Africa became a reality. 

This past weekend saw the festival take place in Cape Town and Johannesburg, in what was the most anticipated music event in 2014, it did more than live up to expectations. With over 40 artists, 11 of which were DJ's that have been voted in the DJ Mag Top 100 charts, crowds were entertained to some of the finest music from some of the best in the business. I attended the Johannesburg leg which saw over 25,000 of the combined 40,000 from both shows take in the sounds and party from 12pm till just after 2am on Sunday morning. 

The variety on offer was quite impressive from the Nicci Beach stage that featured many of the local DJ's playing electro and house music, Soul Candi stage that had deep house and then the impressive main stage, which was HUGE! that featured all the head liners. The local contingent got things under way with the likes of Fresh and Euphonik, Rodger Goode and Goldfish warming the crowd up to what was to be an epic night. 

The first of the international line up was Blasterjaxx, with them being most known for their hit track faith, it was a great way for the crowd to experience what they were all about. The 17 year old wonder kid, Martin Garrix was next, with his new age sounds, his hit tracks Animals and Wizard sent the crowd into raptures. The kid isn't even old enough to drive, heck his dad was here to oversee proceedings and to see him on stage with such a presence was just mind blowing, it seems like he can do no wrong at the moment. 

The next performers was probably the ones I was most looking forward to seeing, ever since hearing them on ASOT 500, I was sold. Willem and Wardt bring a very different style of electronic dance music, with a more harder style sound but very catchy at the same time. If their own work isn't enough, their remixes of many hits by other DJ's just shows you their versatilely. Their remix of Zedd's clarity is still one of the best I've heard and was a firm favourite by the crowd as well. I do hope they tour again as a 1 hour set isn't enough of this talented duo, we want more!

Prior to UMF 2013 in Miami, many didn't even know about Krewella, what a difference a year makes as people could not wait for their set. The energy by the sisters on stage was incredible, their songs although becoming commercial is only a credit to their success and what they have achieved, if you think they killed it last year at UMF, be sure watch out for them at this years event in Miami as I was thoroughly impressed by their performance. 

A few years back when Steve Aoki toured SA, he brought with him at the time not very well known Nicky Romero, to my disappointed Nicky didn't make the Durban leg of that tour but as I expected he stole tbe show at the concert with many saying he was even better than Steve, which I don't find hard to believe, his talent is endless with almost all his productions being massive hits. He rocked Ultra SA with most of his top releases and remixes, there was no stopping him as he started off with his first chart topper Toulouse and just went on from there. He was definitely a  firm favourite with the crowd as some told me they were there just to see him!

Now after seeing such a stellar line up, dancing and jumping all day does get to you but suck it up, down another Red Bull because you still had 3 more to go! Alesso, who some feel should have been the 4th musketeer in the Swedish House Mafia came on soon after Nicky, his hit remix of One Republics "If I lose myself" was by far the crowds pick of his set. Afrojack formed part of the double header head liner, not really a fan of his recent stuff but as I told a friend, seeing him live made a difference and changed my perception about him. 

As you can imagine by the end of Afrojack's set, mine and I'm sure many others feet were ready to give up. It was 12:30am, it was cold, we were exhausted and quite frankly we should be heading home but no one moved towards the exit gates. Damian Pinto, the voice of Ultra came on stage to gee up the crowd for the final artist but he didn't have to. The man, the legend, Tiesto came on to a thunderous welcome from the crowd, kicking off his set with Pair of Dice, he went on to play some of his new work which included 'Take Me', 'Red Lights" and the new remix of John Legends 'All of me'. He has such a presence on stage, it's indescribable and he just knows how to keep the crowd going as he pushed out, mix after mix.

Halfway through his set the rest of the crew came on to join Tij on stage with Afrojack hoisting him up onto his shoulders with the help of South Africa's DJ Fresh. While up there Martin Garrix  hijacked the decks for a bit to spin his latest song, Helicopter, Tiesto soon got back on and then put Martin on his shoulders, all of them on stage at once, not sure if it's happened before but it was a sight to see! Tiesto then ended off his set with some classics of his, pick of the bunch had to be his remix of Deliriums Silence but hearing Adagio for strings for the first time live was an experience on its own! 

The show ended with a flurry of fireworks and all the artist waving the Ultra South Africa flags, Damian Pinto came on stage to thank the performing artists, the sponsors and the crowd. He let slip that this wont be a once off thing and from the response they got in Johannesburg, they might consider 2015 to be held over 2 days. This has been by far one of the best Ultra's outside the USA, the show on the whole was a great success and not only was the calibre of acts good but the sound and lighting to match. The production team can be pretty chuffed at what was accomplished and I'm sure they gave each other pats on the back when this was all finished. Everyone was suffering from depression on Monday with the reality that what we were once looking so forward to has now come and gone but boy was it worth it, till 2015!

PS, lookout for the after movie coming ;)

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