Despite some dramatic moments and downpours, no one can deny that Miami’s Ultra Music Festival fully delivered on its promise to showcase the top talent in electronic music and beyond. Relive the magic with our list of best moments.
Best Pinch Hitter: Deadmau5 for Avicii
When Swedish DJ Avicii called in sick for his Saturday headlining set, it was Deadmau5 and his trademark mouse helmet to the rescue. Deadmau5 even gave a nod to his fellow DJ by mixing a few bars of Avicci’s “Levels” into his playlist.
Best Look: Empire of the Sun
Futuristic costumes and in-your-face visuals have become a trademark of this Australian duo. Need a visual? Think Star Trek meets Power Rangers garb mixed with fist-pumping beats like “Alive” and “DNA.”
Best Collaboration: Jack U
Jack U is the collaborative pet project of Skrillex and Diplo, which meant that Sunday festivalgoers were treated to sounds from both of these big-time artists’ solo catalogues—as well as a couple of joint jams. While one DJ spun his hits, the other played the part of hype man, which the crowds ate up.
Best Girl Talk: M.I.A.
Ultra has a longstanding reputation for welcoming non-DJ artists to its electro-heavy stages, but this could be the first time that one of those acts stole the show. People are still buzzing about M.I.A.’s high-energy set, during which she welcomed hundreds of female fans to the stage to break it down to her track “Y.A.L.A.” (You Always Live Again).
Best Debut: Loco Dice
When thunderstorms rained down on the festival on Saturday night, shutting down several of the stages, huge crowds flocked to take cover at the Megastructure, where they were treated to the sounds of this fresh-faced German DJ. Luckily, Loco Dice’s unique hip-hop–inspired sound (curated from years of working with artists like Snoop Dogg and Usher) doesn’t take much to love.
Best Prodigy: Martin Garrix
This up-and-comer from the Netherlands rocked the Main Stage with a runaway energy. And the crowd couldn’t get enough—even after Garrix played his uber-popular track, “Animals” during his set, it resurfaced again during Deadmau5’s show later on.
Best Guest Stars: Icona Pop with Tiësto
Collaborations are somewhat routine at major festivals like Ultra, since rarely do so many artists crash into one city at the same time. One of the weekend’s best and most unexpected pairings came when Tiësto brought this female duo onstage to perform his new track, “Let’s Go.”
Best Rap Break: Chance the Rapper
Though EDM is still Ultra’s biggest music genre, rap made some legitimate gains at the 2014 event with acts like Pusha T and Waka Flocka Flame. But Chicago artist Chance the Rapper was no doubt the most popular rap act of the weekend, performing tracks from his latest mixtape, Acid Rap.
MVP: Arvin van Buren
Nothing could keep this electronic legend off the stage on Saturday—not massive amounts of rain nor any of the newer DJs on the scene. And fans proved they haven’t had anywhere close to their fill of van Buren, staying to the bitter end of his set to rock to tracks like his Grammy-nominated “This is What It Feels Like,” despite the less-than-stellar weather.
Best Finale: Hardwell
Before the Dutch DJ took to the stage on Sunday for Ultra’s last show, he Facebooked this message out to his fans: “Closing the UMFTV Mainstage tonight, this is going to be one the biggest moments of my life.” The No. 1 DJ in the world lived up to all the hype, introducing several new tracks during his set and closing with samples of hardstyle, an emerging dance music genre.