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Ultra Weekend 1 Highlight: Live Stage Amphitheater (Saturday)

We all know that Saturday of UMF Weekend 1 has one of the best lineups of any dance music festival to ever hit the shores of the US. But beyond the main stage there are still a lot of offerings for those searching for other-worldly auditory journeys. The prevailing theme of the day at the Live Stage amphitheater Saturday is psychedelia. From psytrance to Indie pop to Glitch-Hop, the live stage is your go-to stop for transcedental vibes and feels that are sure to open up your senses to unchartered territories. 


Afrobeta opens up the Live Stage on Saturday with an infectious, upbeat, funky vibe sure to put you in a happy party mood for the rest of the day! This Electro-Dance duo hails from Ultra’s backyard, Miami, and it’s hard to imagine their music without the influence of beach club life that is so derivative of Miami culture. Cuci Amador and Smurphio comprise Afrobeta, and their combined influences and interest in twisted electro-pop are what make their tracks so fun. Sugary sweet synths get dirtier with super danceable basslines, and Cuci’s voice is like the more melodic version of Ke$ha, spitting out party-themed lyrics with girly poise. A super fun, sunny way to start off Saturday in Miami!!

Icona Pop

If you haven’t heard of Icona Pop by this point, your other habits might include accidentally writing 2012 on all your papers. The Swedish Electro-Pop and House duo is comprised of the lovely Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt, who are the voices behind that insanely catchy dance-pop anthem “I Love It” which has been licensed to HBO’s show “Girls” and several television commercials, including those promoting Governor’s Ball. The girls display influences ranging from indie rock, punk, and Electro-House, but there’s a reason their single has blown up as of late: it’s so fucking fun. This song absolutely makes you want to jump up and down, thrash around and yell along to the best chorus ever: “I DON’T CAAARE!” 


Azari & III

(Pronounced Azari and the Third!) What began as a DJ duo between Dinamo Azari and Alixander III transformed into Azari & III with the addition of two vocalists, Starving Yet Full and Fritz Helder. This foursome have a distinct sound, which can be described as a reinvention of 80s style Deep House; it incorporates smooth synths, a dance-y, repetitive bassline, and soulful vocals. Azari and III are relatively new to the scene, breaking in 2011 and enjoying a steady, successful incline since then.  They’ve played at major shows in England like the Glastonbury Festival and Lovebox Festival, so they’re quite comfortable performing live. This should be a set full of seamless mixing and smooth tracks


Not to play favorites but… I cannot say enough good things about Disclosure! This is one set I will flat out recommend, as Disclosure is proving again and again that they deserve every ounce of fame and praise they’re receiving right now. English brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence are the tastemakers behind Disclosure, and each track is more exciting and enticing than the last. They’ve been around since 2010, but the 2012 release of their EP The Face launched them headfirst into the spotlight, with singles like “Tenderly / Flow” and “White Noise” (ft. AlunaGeorge). Their sound is a refreshing mix of indie-garage, deep house and funk, and it's purely addictive. There was a point when I had replayed Latch (ft. Sam Smith) so often that now I have to force myself not to sing along every time it comes up on shuffle (I usually lose that inner battle). This is one live set I will not be missing!

Matt & Kim

Matt & Kim have been together for a long time and started Matt & Kim in Brooklyn, New York in 2006. They started out for several years playing shows and gaining popularity in the Indie scene in New York before gaining mainstream recognition in 2009 with the release of Grand which featured the track “Daylight”.  Their indie rock sound is upbeat and combined with some electronic elements such as light synths and cool bassy beats. They bring a palpable chemistry to the stage and are sure to put on a great set, so look forward to hearing a lot of well-known singles mixed in with other fun, cheerful songs!

Thievery Corporation

Thievery Corporation is a two man DJ set-up comprised of Washington DC based Rob Garza and Eric Hilton. In 1995 the partners created their record label, Eighteenth Street Lounge Music, and started creating their own music as well as hosting other recording artists.  They’ve been releasing singles and albums ever since, including their sixth, most recent studio album, Culture of Fear.  Their sound is a cross-cultural blend of influences, and their recorded vocals span seven different languages, including Persian, Romanian and Hindi. The duo has a super downtempo, chill-out, almost Rasta vibe that is a perfect break between indie electronic sets. Thievery Corporation has a clear mastery of the dance music scene and will likely be around for many years to come.  


Yeasayer is so hard to describe, and I’ve never even tried to put it into any other words besides “awesome” until now. The band began Brooklyn in 2007 with the three core members, Chris Keating, Ira Wolf Tuton, and Anand Wilder; they first started receiving attention after a successful performance at SXSW. Within a year the group was hitting major festivals around the US including Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, and later, Coachella as well. Their latest album, Fragrant World, was released last year and is comprised of 11 completely different tracks, each one a different "genre" than the next. So now to somehow pin down their sound: it’s like a giant blend of Indie, Psychedelic, Electro, Experimental, and Funk. But even that doesn’t do them justice, I guess it just takes seeing them perform live to figure it out for yourself!

Pretty Lights

I've seen Derek bring his "saucy" Electro Glitch-Hop to festivals and stages around the country, but his best performance was by far his showing last year at the Live amphitheater at Bayfront. There couldn't be a more perfect venue when it comes to accommodating the PL sound of deep soul groove and fading vocal samples. The acoustics and production of the stage last year were out of this world, making his set last year one of the favorite dance music experiences I've ever had. If you don't believe my hype be sure to check out these pictures from the show last year



Faithless is another veteran electronica group that have been achieving fame and success in the EDM industry since 1995.  The band consists of Maxi Jazz and Sister Bliss, who are both vocalists and musicians, and Rollo, who is the frontman and producer. The group’s most recent work could maybe be best described as "psychedelic live Trance," if that paints some sort of audio imagery for you. The vocals are almost like spoken word and extra echoey, providing that voice-of-God kind of effect. Faithless has been consistently putting out studio albums for the past decade, the most recent of which was dropped in 2010. The three members have all done extensive individual work as well; Sister Bliss is a prominent dance DJ, Maxi Jazz has released solo albums, and Rollo has produced his own and many other artists’ work. Faithless is a spiritual music experience and one you won't want to miss! 

Infected Mushroom

If you've never felt the bass pound in your chest when these two take the stage, you need to change that. The two Israeli producers Erez Eisen and Amit Duvdevani started Infected way back in 1998 in Haifa and have been trailblazers within the scene ever since. Combining steady bass blows with a psytrance feel, their sound is indescribable. The two juxtapose live bass synthesizers with acoustic guitars, vocals, and a truly mindblowing visual setup to create a truly inspiring multimedia journey. Their latest stop in New York back in the fall at Terminal 5 brought their new "egg" setup, which is one of the most state-of-the-art performance props in the music world today.

Limited Tickets Still Available - Buy Now

By Christina Cerza & Edward Fancher

Follow me on Twitter: @cerz4

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