After 3 years and a covid induced exile, Dave Portnoy's favorite weekend of the year, Ultra Music Festival (UMF) had returned to its natural home of Bayfront Park in the heart of Miami over the past weekend.
And as many festivals and social events seem to struggle to gain a foothold on lost traction during the covid years, Ultra plowed full steam ahead.
The 2022 festival lineup ushered in the divine return of many of music's most significant and long-lost acts, and I'm not just referring to Hardwell's breakthrough return set after announcing his retirement years ago, but also fresh starts from seemingly elusive acts such as Madeon and Pendulum.
While the opener to what we can only assume will be an insane festival season has come to a close, here's a breakdown of some of Ultra 2022's finest moments and sets from the acts and surprise appearances.
I know it's a few days late but I finally got a chance to listen to all the sets after a long drive to MIami Ohio today. Here they are. (And h/t to my guy Caleb for the help)
10. DJ Snake
While there wasn't much new happening in this set from DJ Snake, it still stayed business as usual.. face-melting.. ear piercing.. business as usual. So if you are a fan of past sets from Snake, this will be right up your ballpark.
9. David Guetta
While a veteran in the space, Guetta never fails to bring festival-goers a set filled with modern remixes of dance music classics to give listeners a fresh perspective of the producer's massive catalog. Guetta's set, while lackluster and cheesy at times, earns its spot on this list based on its pure nostalgia (who doesn't love an intro with an exclusive remix of Titanium).
Tiesto's set began with some of his more recent EDM hits, while the mixing can be questionable at times Tiesto seems to want to leave goers with no question that he is still alive in the scene and adapting. It's A LOT of slap house, slap house, and more slap house. But for fans of Tiesto and what he represents to the dance music community, it's a refreshing taste of the past and present of one of music's biggest producers.
Alesso, like many of these performers who have been hidden away the past two years, seemed to return to Ultra with a vengeance. A fresh perspective on some of his more pop-focused tracks shines throughout this set as the future/tech-house space begins to dominate more and more of these headliner DJ's performances and styles.
6. Jauz & NGHTMRE B2B
Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit. Beginning to end, bangers and bravado. Whoever's brainchild it was to have two of the most dangerous bass heads perform together deserves a massive raise. This goes down as one of the best heavy sets I may have ever heard. Brilliant.
5. Armin Van Buuren
Armin is one of the pioneers of modern dance music; needless to say, he continues to show it. This is a performance I'm honestly jealous to have missed. Every sound is big, every synth is bigger, every melody is entrancing. A perfect mix of genre flipping festival anthems. Armin would not let off the gas the entire time. So good they had him booked twice for the weekend on not just the main stage but also the ASOT stage.
4. Amelie Lens
Amelie's techno set was shattering. While the Belgian DJ is a relatively unknown character in the American EDM scene, that fact didn't stop her from performing an electric Techno set for the masses. Amelie Lens also seems to be a member of the certified baddie camp.
Hardwell's return was much anticipated (and heavily leaked) but was a goosebump-inducing arrival nonetheless. While 2014 festival EDM was what (I assume) many expected (and possibly a cheesy performance), Hardwell showed up and showed out, with bigger sounds, tons of ID's, and a world tour announcement. This performance is a can't miss for anyone new or old to the scene. Well done, and welcome back Hardwell.
2. Martin Garrix
While maybe having started his career as a teenage prodigy, Martin Garrix is here to stay and with style. Introducing various new ID's and showcasing past festival anthems was the name of the game for Martin's Ultra set.
Overall. Amazing. Live singers and performances, dubstep, heartbreaking lyrics, head-spinning melodies... Illenium provided them all without hesitation. This young performer not only showed up on the scene with a fresh take on EDM back when he first started but has continued to be an innovator one step ahead of the industry. A stellar performance and a set I would have killed to witness in person. Especially for Jon Belion and "Good Things Fall Apart" at the end. (One of the best songs to come out in a long time).
(Bonus) Swedish House Mafia album tease and 2023 headliner announcement.
h/t to the man Caleb