Like most of you, I was transfixed to the live Ultra stream all last weekend. Intently watching who's hot, who's not, is something of a hobby of mine as I'm always on the lookout to see who's moving music forward. In search of the new and unexpected is what Ultra is all about. Now is an important time in the electronic dance music world as each DJ set is a window into what you'll expect to hear from them for the rest of the year.
This year's Ultra Music Festival was a real treat to watch thanks to a few surprises. Here are a few of them:
1. Axwell /\ Ingrosso playing "Deep Down Low" by Valentino Khan
Did Axwell /\ Ingrosso actually play an OWSLA track at their headlining set at Ultra? You bet they did. It was an unexpected moment that set up a very strong second half of their performance.
Starts at the 19:19 mark:
2. D-Jastic - "Up to No Good" (MAKJ Booty Remix) mashup with Wiwek & Gregor Salto - "On Your Mark" played by Alesso
Wiwek & Gregor Salto's "On Your Mark" has been a popular track to mashup, seeing play in recent sets by Major Lazer and DJ Snake. Alesso used this track to great effect at Ultra by combining it with MAKJ's Booty Remix of "Up To No Good". Even though "On Your Mark" was released a year ago, it's still got a lot of life left.
Starts at the 16 minute mark:
3. The new Martin Garrix x Ed Sheeran track will be a future hit
Martin Garrix premiered a ton of tracks at Ultra this year including new collabs with Avicii, David Guetta, and more. But nothing compared to the brand new track with Ed Sheeran called "Rewind Repeat It". DJs working with pop vocalists is not always a recipe for instant success, and sometimes the results can fall flat. Fortunately for Martin Garrix, 'Rewind Repeat It" sounds light and fresh, just in time for the summer season.
Starts around the 13 minute mark:
4. Darude's "Sandstorm" gets love by Dash Berlin and W&W.
This year's Ultra Music Festival was streamed exclusively on Twitch for the first time. Twitch is known as a stream service for gaming, and within that world Darude's classic track "Sandstorm" is worshipped. Someone must have told W&W and Dash Berlin because when they each played that classic track, the Twitch chat went nuts.
Starts at the 49:50 mark:
5. No overlap!
The final point may not be an individual track but rather a positive commentary on all the DJs I watched this weekend. As opposed to other major festivals, this year's Ultra had a surprising lack of overplayed tracks. We all know that last summer the temptation to play "Animals" and "Bounce Generation" was too high and as a result many sets sounded very similar. But throughout the 3 day live stream, it was a relief to hear mostly brand new tracks without DJs stepping on each other to play the latest Beatport #1.