Ultra 2013: Boys Noize, Crystal Castles, and Nicolas Jaar Live!
Photo by George Martinez Boys Noize rocking and ripping Ultra 2013's live stage. From inside a giant evil skull with LED eyes.
We're going to be honest with you.
When Ultra Music Festival announced its entire 2013 live stage lineup, we were underwhelmed. The scope of the roster was perfect, but it seemed to lack the kind of anchor act that sets the standard for everyone else. Last year, Ultra had Kraftwerk, Miike Snow, DJ Shadow, M83, Bassnectar -- it was a good mix of old and new.
Of course, you cannot deny the talent level of the artists who performed on the live stage last night. But how are you going to put Nicolas Jaar's set against Swedish House Mafia's ego-stroking farewell party?
Photo by George Martinez Raving with Carl Cox and Friends.
We arrived at Ultra much later than the 4 p.m. opening, but just in time to see Modestep getting a pretty packed amphitheater hyped up. However, we kept walking, because we really wanted to check out John Digweed at the Carl Cox & Friends Arena.
His set was superb, as always, churning out progressive house that makes me believe EDM will be OK once -- to borrow from former Space Miami owner Louis Puig -- the "VIP confetti DJ" fad is over.
Making our way back to the live stage, we waited for Boys Noize, who would finally be debuting his skull setup in South Florida. (The noizey boy was supposed to debut it at his show at Revolution in Fort Lauderdale last year, but that ended up getting canceled.)
Was it worth the wait? Well, it was impressive. The big black skull harkens back to the iconography of his 2007 breakout, Oi! Oi! Oi!. He slowly rose from behind the skull in what we imagine was some hydraulic setup underneath the stage. And once he put his hands to work, the German ripper launched headfirst into "What You Want" off last year's Out of the Black. It's a classic funky electro track that cockily shouts: "This is what you want/This is what you get." And the crowd ate it up.
Photo by George Martinez
The skull's eyes glowed red as Mr. Alexander Ridha continued rocking, with Kraftwerk-like graphics in the background: A mixing board melted as the beats got weirder and MS DOS commands fluttered as he picked up the pace.
All in all, Boys Noize tore through three albums worth of work, including highlights like "Transmission," "& Down," "My Moon My Man," and, our favorite, "Oh!"