Two years ago, Miles Jones continued his trip to South Florida even after the Ultra Music Festival announced the cancellation of its internationally revered music festival as the pandemic spread across the country.
But just as the San Francisco native was heading to the beach in Fort Lauderdale, authorities began shutting them down as well, further compounding a disappointing trip.
So Jones’ return to the three-day electronic music event this weekend after a long hiatus has been particularly sweet and long in coming.
“We really had no problems inside with logistics,” the 24-year-old Jones said, except for a brief scuffle with an unruly attendee while filming Martin Garrix. “Alesso was awesome…I feel great.”
More than 150 different artists played seven different stages on Bayfront Park through Sunday night. While cloud cover kept temperatures a little cooler on Friday, the roughly 55,000 daily festival attendees were treated to a sunny Saturday and Sunday.
Heavier lines began winding around Biscayne Boulevard at 5 p.m. each day, as most performers arrived from the other side of the park by boat. All the while, a helicopter circled overhead keeping a bird’s eye view.
Police reported minimal issues. Four arrests were made on Friday and 10 more on Saturday, mostly for narcotics possession, according to the Miami Police Department.
But overall, most people were just happy to be there after COVID-19 derailed live music for the better part of two years.
Slushii, a 24-year-old producer from New Jersey, said it was his childhood dream to play Ultra, which debuted in 1999 as a one-day event.
“This year was like going back to, oh okay, it’s Ultra,” he said. “We are back on the boat. It’s awesome.
Carl Cox, a legendary British techno producer, has performed at every Ultra since 2001 and has his own stage dubbed “The Resistance”.
Cox said years ago that he gave the festival an ultimatum: give it its own stage or it might not return. Ultra agree and now Cox is the only DJ playing all three nights for three hours.
“I just didn’t want Carl Cox lumped together with all the other main DJs on the main stage. I had more to give than that. I had more to give than an hour of music. To give them more of who I am, I wanted to organize a festival within a festival. And that’s what’s happened over the years,” Cox said.
Getting every track at a music festival to be perfect is nigh on impossible, of course. And there were a few snafus.
On Saturday, John Summit, a rising star known for his fast-paced party house tunes, performed at “The Cove,” a stage usually reserved for smaller artists. But Summit’s loyal fan base overwhelmed the space, which was obviously too small for his flourishing act. Fans were stuck behind trees in the park and couldn’t fully hear the performance.
“Why is he playing here?” asked a woman.
“He’s on the wrong stage,” complained another.
The Summit team expected this to happen and hope it proves to Ultra that the baby-faced DJ deserves higher billing in years to come.
Still, it was hard to dampen the exuberant mood that reigned throughout the festival, which drew international fans from places as far afield as Brazil and South Korea.
“They were very smart to support such a festival which is mostly known around the world,” Cox said.
This story was originally published March 27, 2022 1:14 p.m.