Ultra 2014: M.I.A., MGMT, Basement Jaxx
Photo by George Martinez M.I.A. at Ultra 2014.
Much like the actual weather in this era of global warming, the emotional climate at Ultra Music Festival's live stage is wildly unpredictable.
The fans might love it. They might hate it. It's always tough to predict. But the fervor and size of the audience often mirrors the enthusiasm, though not always the craft, of the performers. That's about our only forecasting technique.
Last night's opening Ultra 2014 live stage bill boasted some of the fest's heaviest hitters, including Basement Jaxx, M.I.A., and MGMT. And just in that order, from most enthralling to most likely to chill-you-the-fuck-out, the three acts impressed.
Photo by George Martinez Truly sparkling.
While the sun was still shining, a robot voice took over the sound system, saying, "We bring you news of joy and freedom!" And man, that robot voice wasn't messing around. Basement Jaxx was about to rain down upon us actual joy, making us feel totally free to dance in any ol' dorky way.
The duo's live band performed for the next forty minutes, shooting us straight into a universe where women with flawless voices (and dressed like natural phenomenons) sang about good vibrations and asked us to take a ride with them. It was a cosmic journey that started with a very small crowd and ended with a half-filled amphitheater, hands all raised and clapping as pupils dilated from admiration, mostly not drugs.
Photo by George Martinez Photo by George Martinez
Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe's live performers all wore outfits fit for a cosmic stage. They opened with a powerful version of "Good Luck." The two vocalists -- one dressed as a rainbow, the other as clouds -- hyped the fans with some minor twerking, momentary voguing, and a Matthew McConaughey "alright, alright, alright" while belting out lyrics like "Bring me to the rainbow!"
As they are known to do, the men of Basement Jaxx sifted through a variety of genres, all with expertly presented with the help of a crew of admirable performers. These guest stars included a lively, whining couple who brought the dancehall and two Asian ladies in tropical regalia who clawed the air and sang, "I want love!" One of their two drummers kept things sonically relevant to each tune with a variety of percussive instruments including a steel drum, bongos, and a chime tree.
Photo by George Martinez George Martinez
It was the most inspiring, positive energy that we've seen coming off the Ultra live stage in the past four years. Burton had everyone yelling, "Where's your head at!" in unison and at the top of their lungs. Like, everyone.
From two folks in gorilla suits to a local guy in a raven costume working a trumpet and a ballerina in a Hamburgler mask, there wasn't a single person or party animal who refused to appreciatively scream. It was a near flawless showcasing of the classic Basement Jaxx sound.