It’s that time of year once again, folks. The sun is beginning to creep out from behind the clouds, the snow is starting to show signs of melting, and the city of Miami is racing to compose itself before the onrush of visitors from around the globe congregate on its beaches and streets for a week of events, conferences and revelry. Ultra Music Festival begins Friday afternoon, and will serve as the closing marker for Miami Music Week. During its three-day occupation of the city, fans will be treated to eight different stages packed to the brim with exciting acts from all across the electronic spectrum. From esteemed headliners to niche performers, the festival’s roster is anything but stale.
Even though fans might have their daily schedules already planned out, there are always some sets that slip through the cracks. If you find yourself with gaps in your list, we’re here to guide you to a few of the weekend’s best and possibly overlooked sets. From dubstep and trap to future, house and techno, our list comprises the best of both large acts and underrated ones coming into the Ultra weekend.
First, a name you may be familiar with: Crystal Castles. Playing on the Live Stage at 8 p.m. on Saturday, the group’s fame and admiration has remained a constant ever since their founding in 2003. As the second opening act for Nero (live) and The Prodigy, getting to the stage in time is crucial. Attendees of Crystal Castles’ set will be treated to an ethereal and meaningful blur of incredible overlapping melodies and pounding rhythms tying it all together. Listen to their most recent Soundcloud release below.
Next we have Rabbit in the Moon, playing on the Live Stage at 8:50 p.m. on Sunday. Ever since the early ’90s, the group has been a vibrant pioneer in house and psychedelic trance. Their tracks take listeners on a mysterious but optimistic sonic journey through the last two decades of house music; however, it’s their live performance that really put them on the map. The crazy antics and props during their set are nothing to be missed.
On the Ultra World Wide Stage on Saturday, producer Malaa will occupy the 6 p.m. slot time with what’s sure to be a deadly and minimal deep house set. His tracks, a complex mix of hip hop samples, aggressive percussion strikes and simplistic but effective melodies have recently left much of the dance community asking the same question: who is Malaa? While jokes have been made, comparing him to Skrillex or DJ Snake, the important fact remains that he is a force to be reckoned with, and one that certainly shouldn’t be missed coming into the weekend.
Wave Racer – Australian beat maker and frequent collaborator of such artists as Lido and Ryan Hemsworth -will be playing an early, 2 p.m. slot on the World Wide Stage on Sunday. But if you’re around to catch the beginning of the festival, we highly recommend you stop by. For the last several years, Wave Racer’s reach and influence have been making their way across the globe, allowing him to tour within the United States and elsewhere to a host of welcoming crowds. His sound bases itself in fast-paced, sample-saturated melodies that never stop evolving or overlapping, making his live experience a joyful and energetic romp through nostalgic memories and newfound production methods. Check out one of his most highly regarded remixes below, and stop by his stage for a great start to your Sunday.
Next is Danny L Harle, Ultra Music Festival’s resident PC Music representative and easily one of the most unique contributors on the roster. With a style dependent on a slight shock factor and unfamiliarity on the part of the audience, his tunes listen as some of the most creative and artistic in the list. The vocals in most of his songs are almost identical to those of mainstream pop, but with an essential hint of self-awareness and even parody, making the experience of listening both intense and approachable. To watch a real artist and enjoy something truly different, make sure to catch his set on the UMF Radio Stage at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Louis the Child is name that most of us are familiar with at this point, but their spot at Ultra is still well worth a mention. Coming off the heels of their recent acclaim by such icons as Taylor Swift, the Chicago-based duo are finding themselves whisked away to some of the year’s most highly regarded festivals and events. Their Ultra spot will take place on the UMF Radio Stage at 2 p.m. on Saturday, followed by such acts as Mija, Dj Sliink and Wiwek. Listen to their recent single below and make some room on your schedule.
For the bass music fans who are searching for the real, dirty festival trap experience, look no further than Slander‘s 7:10 p.m. set on the World Wide Stage on Friday. From personal experience, I can tell you just how lively and raucous the Los Angeles-based duo can get. Following a recent EP with none other than NGHTMRE, Slander’s sets expertly combine some of the most hard-hitting beats with uplifting, yet powerful future bass tracks to create a vibe like no other. The festival stage is where they feel most comfortable and where their tracks have the best effect, so missing their appearance in Miami is definitely not an option.
San Holo is a name that’s becoming more and more present in the dance music community’s eye. With recent releases on Monstecat, Spinnin’, OWSLA and more, the producer has been making healthy rounds among some of the most esteemed labels and collective currently in the scene. His work consists of painstakingly perfect future bass, relying sometimes on only a few sounds to complete a vibrant and meaningful sonic space. Each of his tracks, regardless of release location, manage to transport the listener into a unique environment. With a set on the UMF Radio Stage at 3 p.m. on Sunday directly following Danny L Harle, the experience is sure to be an unforgettable one.
Getter is a name that we no longer need to introduce. With some of the most well known releases in the current movement and an equally as impactful hold on the meme-verse, the dubstep producer is an essential edition to the 2016 Ultra roster. His set will go down on the UMF Radio Stage at 8 p.m. on Saturday, where small shovels will be provided to attendees so that they can scoop their faces off the floor once they melt. Judging from recent videos taken at his live shows, his set will most likely feature a wide host of unspeakable, unreleased material and deadly collaborations yet to break the news. Be there, or be square.
Last, but certainly not least, we have Gryffin. The NY-based producer has managed, over the last couple of years, to create his own entire strand of the hopeful and inspiring house music that sends a positive and uplifting feeling to listeners from all across the spectrum. Heavily reliant on peaceful vocals and warm, cascading synths, his tracks are some of the most enjoyable and sway-inducing on the market right now. And his set looks to be no different. Catch Gryffin’s performance on the Live Stage at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday right before Bob Moses, and lose yourself in the blissful melodies.