Ultra music festival brings techno to Miami

Michael Tandlich, Staff Writer

Thousands of fist-pumping people, world-renowned deejays, ear-shattering trebles, bone-vibrating basses, eye-catching lightshows. Welcome to Ultra.

Ultra Music Festival (UMF) began in 1999. It picked up speed in 2002 when the single-day event sold 21,500 tickets and earned over $1 million, according to Pollstar USA. Eight years later, UMF sold close to 100,000 tickets and earned $7 million.

Previously, spectators would travel from around the globe to attend both Miami’s Winter Music Conference  and UMF, occurring consecutively. Now, with the events two weeks apart, attendance and lodging become prominent issues.

Ultra officials blame the “split” on Miami’s Calle Ocho celebration on March 13. According to city officials, Ultra requires 100 policemen and Calle Ocho needs close to 400, making simultaneous occurrences impossible. Because Ultra will last three days, it had to reschedule to the last weekend of March.

Ultra has signed exclusivity agreements with many of its artists, restricting deejays’ freedom and creating drama within the music industry. In short, these “exclusive” agreements inhibit artists from performing anywhere except at Ultra. In rebellion, Swedish House Mafia chose to host their own “One-Night Stand” that will take place on March 26.

“Ultra could easily compromise, have a two-day event, and everyone would be happy. Instead, Ultra officials make it three days and two weeks later than WMC,” senior Erin Gorsline said. “I don’t think it is right, especially because, without WMC, they would be nonexistent.”

Aside from individuals’ skepticism, many aspects of Ultra stay unchanged. Bayfront Park will remain as the traditional UMF setting, even though officials fenced off four of the park’s thirty acres for construction on a new museum. Attendees can also expect the hundred-foot tall main stage with its towering speakers, laser- and strobe- light shows, over six side stages covered with tents, and hundreds of thousands of attendants raving to the chest-vibrating music.

“Regardless of everything Ultra does and of all the changes people are making, I know Ultra will be amazing,” senior Georgette Finnegan said. “It’s not just about the music either; it’s about chilling with friends and making memories.”

Techno-cravers can expect to see newbie performances. Ultra plans to introduce “Super Mash Bros.,” mainly known for its hip-hop mash-ups; “Empire of the Sun,” a group many believe, with its performance, will gain popularity;  “Cut Copy;” and “!!!” The returning artists- “Tiesto,” “deadmau5,” “David Guetta,” “carlcox” and “Afrojack”- will have competition.

UMF has become one of the highest attended and most widely-known music events in the United States. “Early-bird” specials on ticket prices sold out within hours of being released. After only two days, online ticket sales soared 500 percent higher than 2010 ticket sales. People can buy tickets on UMF’s website.