The phase 1 lineup for Ultra 2019 just dropped and it’s massive! With Marshmello, The Chainsmokers, Martin Garrix and Zedd as returning as headliners, plus new names Rezz, Zeds Dead, and NGHTMRE & Slander making their main stage debuts, next year is shaping up to be another stellar year for Ultra Music Festival.

But how does it stack up against the past four years of Ultra?

Well, let’s start with the obvious: Ultra plays favorites. Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, David Guetta and Tiësto will never not play Ultra. The same goes for many of the Resistance artists: The Martinez Brothers are back, as are Maceo Plex, Jamie Jones and Joseph Capriati, Loco Dice, and Sasha + John Digweed. We assume Hardwell would be playing 2019 as well if he didn’t make the decision earlier this year to take a break from live shows for a while.

However, while Ultra does play favorites, they also like to throw some curveballs. In 2015, Skrillex took to the main stage, and Martin Garrix played it for the first time in his career. Die Antwoord, Deep Dish, Porter Robinson, Kygo, and Bassnectar also all featured as fan favorites. In 2016, Pendulum live made its return, plus Rabbit in the Moon. 2017 was by far the weakest of the past four years for the main stage, but the live stage was surprisingly awesome: Ice Cube, Justice, The Prodigy, and Underworld.

Then in 2018, Ultra brought back Swedish House Mafia, Marshmello and The Chainsmokers headlined the main stage, and Virtual Self dominated the live stage.

So how does 2019 stack up? Well, aside from the lineup, there are a lot of unknown variables this year. The biggest of all is that we have no idea what the new stages will be like – with the new venue, it opens up a lot of possibilities, including a larger live stage. It wouldn’t make much sense to put Odesza in that tiny amphitheater in Bayfront Park. But a new live stage with unknown capacity? Now, that’s something Ultra can work with.

In addition, deadmau5 will debut his Cube 3.0 for the first time, Illenium will play Ultra for the first time, Griz will play Ultra for the first time, and there’s still more to be announced.

Plus, Jeffrey Sutorius makes his solo debut after breaking up with Dash Berlin.

As for the main stage headliners in 2019, Rezz, Zeds Dead, and NGHTMRE & Slander present Gud Vibrations will finally all get their shot. However, the decision to bring The Chainsmokers and Marshmello back to the main stage for the second year in a row is questionable; it stands to reason that their sets will be fairly similar to this year’s. A lot of The Chainsmokers’ 2018 set was made of IDs from their new album Sick Boy, including the unreleased collaborations with NGHTMRE and Aazar. Now that they’re out, what new music will they have to push? As for Marshmello, he’s put out plenty of new music in 2018, but you can’t bring out Will Smith two years in a row. And he’s also quite the DJ chameleon, playing whatever the crowd wants to hear. In a way, his sets will never go awry, but there isn’t much experimentation there, either.

With still more artists to be announced, we’re excited and hopeful about the state of Ultra 2019. But as for phase 1 and how it stacks up against the past four years, it’s a strong contender for best of the bunch. Check out the past four years’ phase 1 lineups below, as well as this year’s.


Photo via pikzelz for Ultra