Monday, March 27, 2017

My objective and unbiased review of this year's Ultra Music Festival

Photo by George Martinez/Miami New Times

Day Two of the Ultra Music Festival took place at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami on Saturday.

If you're like me and are unfamiliar with Ultra...the best way I can describe it is it's like Woodstock for Millennials. Except Woodstock had a better vibe.

Thousands showed up for the three days of sold-out Ultra shows. But not all Miamians were thrilled to see the event come to town.

“It’s a great event for the city, but not so much if you work downtown. I wish they had a better venue,” architect Bernard Zyscovich told the Miami Herald.

Raul Guerrero, a resident of the Loft 2 condo tower on Northeast Second Avenue told the Herald, “It’s five weeks of disruption for everyone who lives for blocks around it.”

But my curiosity got the best of me. So I punched up a live stream of the show on YouTube.

I was underwhelmed to say the least.

I heard a lot of what sounded like noise, but not much that sounded like what we used to call "music."

If you've ever listened to a garbage truck empty one dumpster after another in a South Beach alley at 6:30 in the morning then you've experienced Ultra. 

(Jose Duran of Miami New Times reports that Ultra shipped a free pair of earplugs to everyone who purchased a ticket this year. Isn't that like a restaurant handing out free bottles of Imodium to patrons as they pay their bill?)

One song that did catch my attention was "Porcelain" by enjoyment enhanced by the fact that I didn't have to stand in a driving rainstorm to hear it.")

(And I did enjoy this moment from last year's festival.)

I'm not sure who listens to this stuff. Last year a Miami Herald writer penned an obit for EDM...electronic dance music.
“EDM is over — it’s like disco,” says Vanessa Menkes, former head of communications for the now disbanded Opium Group, whose clubs including Mansion and Set dominated South Beach nightlife for years. “In 2005, you could open your doors on a random Saturday night and make $150,000. Those days are not coming back.”
Fans like Annie Tomlinson, 22, an ardent Ultra attendee when she could get a one-day ticket for around $100, are opting out. She last went to the festival in 2013, though she says her peak experience was the year before.

“I still like the music,” Tomlinson says. “But it’s not worth it for the money anymore. It’s so hyped up and I’ve already experienced it.
After watching some of the acts on YouTube last night, I tried to broaden my understanding of the genre by reading this review of a Day Two performance by Miami New Times' Jose Duran:
"Unlike the Carl Cox stage, the Spider provided virtually no shield from the rain. However, techno fans didn't let that stop them from enjoying Dubfire's set. The Iranian DJ's music was the perfect sound track for the apocalyptic setting that included plenty of standing water even after the skies cleared. And instead of avoiding the muddy mess, the audience kept stomping to the beat. The flames seemed to go into overdrive, which was a welcome surprise thanks to the chill that hung in the air"
Jose's an excellent writer, but his review left me with more questions than answers.

For instance, "What's the deal with all the flags?" a curmudgeonly Andy Rooney-like voice keeps asking inside my head.

Photo by Matias Ocner/Miami Herald

So, if it's OK with you, Jose, I'm gonna stick with the old stuff....the really old stuff. 

Did you see anything like this Saturday night? A 1960s live performance by Jerry Lee Lewis on British TV? Look at the audience interaction with Lewis. 

And as I watched Saturday night's show, I didn't see any saxophone solos performed on top of a piano!  (When I showed both the Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard videos to a 25-year-old woman who attended the Friday Ultra show, her immediate reaction was, "That's just like Ultra, right there!")

OK, so this Chuck Berry performance is lip-synced....but the kids really get into it just like at Ultra.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to comment on anything you read here.

All comments must first be approved. Spam and spam links will not be tolerated or approved.