Miami’s legendary Ultra Music Festival kicks off next weekend. Now in its 18th year the festival has grown into one of the US’ most iconic festivals welcoming 100s of the world’s best DJs and live acts across two weekends of electronic revelry.
Ahead of next week’s festival we take a look back at some of the festival's most memorable moments, from Madge dropping the molly bomb to Deadmau5 trolling the mainstage with his usual antics — these are our favourites.
1. When Madonna made a cameo during Avicii's set
Madonna is forever trying to remain relevant — so when she was given the opportunity to introduce Avicii onstage at Ultra, she understandably jumped at the chance. What followed was one of the cringiest moments of her career when she declared: "How many people in this crowd have seen Molly?". Later on, she explained that she was actually referring to a Cedric Gervais’ track ‘'Have You Seen Molly' and not the well-known party drug, because he was producing her new album at the time. Yeah, right.
2. When Avicii went country
Avicii mystified the dance music world in 2013 when he dropped his new album 'True', featuring a mix of country and western sounds fused with his usual big-room sonics. He played several of the new tracks during his Ultra Music Festival set, which were met with mixed reactions, before the album went on to sell album a million copies later that year.
3. When Deadmau5 trolled Martin Garrix’s ‘Animals’
Deadmau5 just couldn’t resist taking a swipe at Martin Garrix and his breakout track ‘Animals’ during his 2014 mainstage performance. The outspoken Canadian producer dropped a comedy remix of ‘Old MacDonald Had A Farm’ in the style of Garrix’s ‘Animals’. Garrix’s mentor, and fellow Dutch superstar, Tiesto wasn’t impressed, declaring that the producer shouldn’t have played the track in such a sarcastic manner, whilst Deadmau5 hit back with: “Am I supposed to sneer while hitting the sync button? Or is that ironic?”.
4. When Hardwell set a live streaming record
Hardwell’s 2013 performance on the Ultra Music Festival mainstage broke all previous live streaming records, with 90,000 people from across the globe simultaneously tuning in to see the Dutchman play.
5. When Above & Beyond played with their backs to the crowd
2014’s Ultra Music Festival was marred by a torrential rain storm. It got so bad that during Above & Beyond’s mainstage performance their DJ gear shorted out due to the inclement weather. The duo was forced to perform the rest of their set with their backs to the crowd using a backup set of decks, which were hastily setup behind an LED screen. But like true professionals, they still smashed it.
6. Carl Cox celebrating his 10th anniversary at Ultra
If there's a king of Ultra, it's Carl Cox. The British selector has had a stage at the festival for 12 years. His Carl Cox & Friends stage is always a huge draw for many at the festival, with his 2014 performance inside the festival's iconic steel megastructure one of his most memorable moments. This year, the techno don will have his Carl Cox & Friends stage on a giant, fire-breathing spider alongside the likes of Sasha & Digweed, Marco Carola and Joseph Capriati.
7. Eric Prydz debuting his 3D Holo experience
When it comes to stunning stage set-ups, Eric Prydz is in a league of his own. Back in 2014, Prydz brought the largest-ever 3D hologram to North America for his mainstage performance at Ultra, where he finished his set with a massive 'Pjanoo' finale. Check it out below.
8. When Knife Party invited Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello to perform
In 2016, Knife Party had the honour of closing out the UMF mainstage for the final day. Having performed as Pendulum earlier on, Knife Party's Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen took over the mainstage to deliver a huge set. One of the many highlights was when they invited Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello on stage to perform an unreleased collaboration.
9. The debut of the Resistance Arcadia stage in 2016
One thing Ultra does better than almost anyone is over-the-top stage designs. The very best, though, was 2016's giant, fire-breathing metal spider, Arcadia. The good news? It's back this year with Carl Cox & Friends at the helm, where the likes of Sasha & Digweed, Joseph Capriati and Marco Carola will perform. Not to be missed!
10. Deadmau5 playing Motorhead to a load of trance fans
We could easily do an entire list just on Deadmau5 — but we won't. One of his finest moments comes from 2016 at Ultra. Having stepped in last minute and performed on the mainstage due to The Prodigy's late cancellation (Maxim was reportedly taken ill), Joel Zimmerman was also scheduled to play an A State Of Trance set, where he was probably expected to play some of his more progressive cuts, maybe even some trance. Instead, like a true maverick, he played a dark techno set and even managed to weave Motorhead's 'Ace of Spades' in as a tribute to the late, great Lemmy who had just passed away.
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