‘Competition is fierce’: Beyond Ultra, Miami Music Week to feature more than 100 events

·4 min read

Thousands of music fans from around the globe will descend upon downtown Miami this week for Ultra, the renowned three-day electronic music festival known for its elaborate stages, reverberating bass and extravagant fashion choices.

But Miami Music Week — which kicks off Tuesday and runs essentially nonstop through Sunday night — is serving up a plethora of EDM menu options beyond the mega-event that occupies Bayfront Park through the weekend.

Over six days, the Miami metropolitan area will host at least 117 music events outside of Ultra. From pool parties at staple Miami Beach hotels, to immersive visual experiences at Factory Town in Hialeah, Music Week averages an offering of nearly 20 different events each day and night. And that doesn’t even count the underground — largely unadvertised — after-parties that pop up.

Photos from Day 3 of Ultra Music Festival Miami on Sunday, March 27, 2022.
Photos from Day 3 of Ultra Music Festival Miami on Sunday, March 27, 2022.

“The competition in Miami is fierce,” said Scott Lombardo, who runs the website EDMTunes.com, which has compiled a day-by-day guide for partiers.

There’s a 24-hour rave with more than 50 DJs slated called “Get Lost.” There’s the Barcelona-inspired Elrow event with a “Rowlympic Games” theme that will feature blasts of colorful confetti and crowd-surfing inflatables as marquee names like Chris Lake, MK and Sonny Fodera provide the soundtrack.

And there’s Afterlife, a white-hot traveling global show with futuristic visuals, mesmerizing production and emotive melodic house and techno music that is already being billed as one of the most sought after events of the week. The Wednesday evening show at Factory Town was one of the quickest tickets to sell out, though there is a wait list.

Over two stages, Afterlife will feature sets from Tale of Us, Camelphat and Argy as well as Massano and Rebuke. It’s Lombardo’s top recommendation for music week-goers.

On Thursday, Elrow will take over Factory Town with an interactive event that continues to evolve with each of the 80 cities it has hit worldwide.

Juan Arnau, Elrow’s founder and CEO, said he considers his show four equal parts of decoration, music, interactive elements (like actors and toys) and the audience. It’s not a show for the passive attendee. The first set begins at 6 p.m. Thursday; the final set starts at 5:30 a.m. Friday morning.

Elrow will take over Factory Town with an interactive event. Courtesy of Elrow
Elrow will take over Factory Town with an interactive event. Courtesy of Elrow

“When you manage the audience to be an active part of the show, it’s when the brand becomes successful,” Arnau said. “The audience feels part of the family and feels part of the brand itself. When you achieve that synergy, it’s something really special and unique.”

Arnau expects between 5,000 to 6,000 will attend Elrow’s Miami offering and tickets are still available from $60.

“Every time we go to a city that’s already hosting a big electronic event that are bringing people from all over the world, it’s an opportunity for us,” Arnau said. “It happens in Miami, it happens at Art Basel, it happens in Amsterdam in October. … It’s a showcase for us.”

Many DJs will take the opportunity to play multiple shows at different venues during the week in order to maximize their exposure and financial take.

Photos from Day 3 of Ultra Music Festival Miami on Sunday, March 27, 2022.
Photos from Day 3 of Ultra Music Festival Miami on Sunday, March 27, 2022.

In the case of Oliver Heldens, the Dutch-born DJ and producer known for smash hits like “Turn Me On” and “Gecko,” he’ll be playing upbeat vocal-driven House music as himself and techno-driven tracks as his alter ego, Hi-Lo.

Some artists utilize different stage names in order to separate EDM genres they like to experiment with.

Heldens, who is embarking on his eighth Miami Music Week, will play a pool party at Nautilus Hotel on Thursday and then will join the Resistance residency at M2, a nightclub in the former Mansion space owned by the organizers of Ultra, in the evening, as his alias Hi-Lo.

“If I’m in Miami, I always feel a bit like I’m in a movie,” Heldens said in an interview.

On Sunday, he’ll perform a special back-to-back set with Tchami on Ultra’s main stage, which will allow him to experiment as the two rotate between turns on the mixers.

“In those back-to-backs, those sets are a bit more spontaneous,” he said. “Actually the better prepared you are, the more flexible you can be as well. … I don’t necessarily need to play many of my hits. I can approach it a bit more as a DJ.”

Other highly anticipated Ultra sets include Charlotte de Witte, a Belgian DJ with a large international following who hasn’t had as much exposure in the U.S., as well as Dom Dolla and Vintage Culture on Saturday and Mathame and Swedish House Mafia on Sunday.

Late-night party-goers expressed a sigh of relief on Monday night when Miami Beach commissioners voted against extending a curfew that could have endangered late-night programming.

In reaction to two fatal shootings, the city imposed a midnight curfew over this past weekend, but decided against continuing it through Miami Music Week by a razor-thin 4-3 commission vote.

For a full line up of Miami Music Week events, go to https://miamimusicweek.com.