POV: An ‘Ultra’ Sunday
I began my Sunday excursion photographing Nervo on the main stage and DJ Fresh Live at the Live Stage. I plan to spend the day photographing these two stages as they work best for photography. Nervo was followed bySunnery James & Ryan Marciano, Thomas Gold, and Bingo Players. All acts spent most of their sets playing hits and mixing dance beats into the songs on a stylized deck at the front of the stage.
The Live Stage was fun, with nice performances by Azealia Banks, Major Lazer, and Snoop Dogg. The amphitheatre was more packed during Sunday than the other two days, with fans standing on seats to get a better view. Everybody seemed to be taking pictures or videos with their cellphones and the little go-pro type cameras seemed too popular (and very annoying when a fan feels entitled to lift it up on a stick, blocking the view of the people behind).
My mind wanders and I started feeling a bit paranoid with this surveillance age. Eventually Google (or will it be Apple?) will have video of almost everybody’s entire life, identified on user-video stored in the clouds through facial recognition software and transcribed with voice recognition software.
Azealia talked about her controversial remarks on the Internet. She must be the “Queen of Mean” on Twitter as she has gotten plenty of attention for her tweets. I enjoyed her performance though.
Major Lazer’s set was totally over the top. Diplo was the grand host of the party, which featured a guest appearance by Sean Paul. Diplo was all over the stage, waving flags, shooting confetti sticks, tossing party horns into the crowd, and even walking on the crowd in a translucent ball. Girls in the audience were brought onstage for a bounce contest (almost damaging the video screen in front of the decks, which had been covered up for the set as a precaution) and a guy was brought onstage for a bizarre lap dance.
Snoop was part Lion and part Dogg, performing newer material plus all of his classics and behaving just as you would expect Snoop to behave. I missed a couple of main stage acts entirely because I had found a good spot in the crowd and was enjoying the performances so much that I didn’t want to leave.
After Snoop, I returned to the main stage for Alesso. I started out photographing the huge stage with a wide lens and never got around to photographing close-ups because I was enjoying the production so much.
Then it was time to say farewell to Swedish House Mafia, performing their final show. They chose Ultra for the goodbye due to their history with the festival (and because it was the first place I saw them right?). As befits an EDM titan, Swedish House Mafia had a huge production, with 3 tiers of wrap-around video and the DJ’s spinning from halfway up. There was plenty of smoke, flames, and confetti, and fireworks to end the show. John Martin joined them at the end to do the vocals on “Don’t You Worry Child,” their latest hit.
I caught a bit of Crystal Castles on the way out. I’ve always liked them and this was my second time seeing them at an Ultra as their music, while not EDM per se, is electronic music. Their crowd at the Live Stage was smaller, as everybody at Ultra was trying to see Swedish House Mafia at the same time and the fans were packed in tight to the back of the main stage area. That was a tough time slot for a band.
And thus Ultra ended the 15th Anniversary weekends with their largest crowd ever. I have covered Ultra for many years now and never seen so many people there, as EDM has exploded over the past couple of years.
I imagine there will be plenty of EDM festivals this summer.