As many of you know South Africa’s biggest outdoor electronic music festival was held this past weekend in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Before I get into what I thought of it let me give you a little background on the origin of the festival. Ultra music festival originated in Miami, Florida in 1999 and has since taken place in over 20 different countries. It has won several international dance music awards and features only the best electronic dance disk jockeys. The likes of Armin van Buuren, Carl Cox, Deadmau5, Skrillex and Tiesto to name a few.
Ultra hit South African shores on valentines day in February 2014 and has since then been running every February. I was in the states during the first Ultra South Africa so I did miss it but I had the opportunity of attending festivals in United States(which I will write about.) However I did attend the 2015 and 2016 editions. It usually takes place at the Cape Town Ostrich farm but this year moved to Cape Town Green Point Stadium to many fans disapproval. Last year it was a two day festival but this year it was back to one day.
I arrived at the stadium on Friday the 24th around 3:15pm and hoped to catch most of Felix Jaehn’s set but the lines were ridiculously long and pretty much stagnant for a while. It was quite hot and really miserable to be waiting in queues but we did have some awesome Red bull ladies give us free Red bulls(Thanks Redbull SA!) I got into the festival around 3:45pm (because I was ushered to the VIP entrance but many others weren’t) and decided to top up as it is a cashless festival. You basically use your cash or card to load money onto a wristband and then use that as your wallet for the event. I like this system as the thought of carrying cash or swiping my card sounds daunting especially if I lose it. However I did see a lot of complaints about the refund process that seemed to have some issues online.
I got my Redbull bucket and was on my stage down to the stage. I thought I would find more bars in the staidum but all the bars and food was at the top of the stadium and the stages were down below. There was more than enough space for bars at the bottom. The walk up the stairs every time was quite a mission and I dropped my pizza. (No, not drunk haha, running to catch Black Coffee, epic fail!) I really did not like this arrangement. Also, where were the vegetarian options? The burger food truck at the resistance stage only had meat burgers. A girl needs to eat and techno, bring me some vegetarian food please!
There seemed to be adequate security around as well as officials but nobody knew where anything was. The resistance stage was underground and yes, I got lost trying to find it. How about some signs? This stage was way too small in my opinion, there wasn’t much room to dance. I don’t really enjoy the feeling of an enclosed area filled with people on top of you.
The main stage looked and sounded good but definitely did not compare to what we had at the Ostrich farm. The city prevent fireworks, what is Ultra without fireworks? I was quite surprised to see how less people attended the festival. You will see the image below, there’s either too many people who did not pitch up or the city had a limited amount of tickets? Nevertheless I enjoyed some of the music and patiently waited for my favourite DJ Dash Berlin to come on. Mind you, this was at 5.30pm, Dash Berlin was no opening act, Ultra please get your line up times straight. His set was hands down the best, I am not being biased but world number one DJ of the DJ Mag “Martin Garrix” was underwhelming and if anyone tells you differently, they’re lying.
I was not impressed by any of the other DJ’s such as DJ Snake, David Guetta or Headhunterz. I will say KSHMR as well as Black Coffee and Nic Fanciulli was good. What annoys me is that I live stream these mentioned dj’s at Ultra Miami and other huge EDM festivals and they actually put effort into their sets. When they play Ultra South Africa they literally hit stop and play, there isn’t even proper transitioning. You may think we don’t notice but we do and to be honest I don’t think I will attend another Ultra if they do not bring a better line up with dj’s who actually put effort into their set. Also, there could be much more variety in the line up in terms of sub genres.
Now that I have given you most of my negative points. Lets get down to the good stuff. Within minutes of arriving and waiting for my friends who were still in the line I made a friend, an international one from the Netherlands. (How cool?) The vibes at the stadium were just as good as the Ostrich farm, every encounter I had, everyone was pleasant and helpful. Even while waiting for the bathroom to become available people were patient. This is what I loved most about all the Ultra Cape Town’s I have attended. There is just a feeling of togetherness and unity when we all come under one sky and dance away into the night.
Even when I got lost, which usually happens at festivals, I found new friends who welcomed me and I didn’t have a hard time finding my friends eventually. The signal at the stadium was better than at the Ostrich farm and it is much smaller. I didn’t see or notice any fights or anything of the sort which is always a good sign. Most of all whenever I looked around I saw people dancing, laughing and smiling. You cannot deny that no matter where Ultra is held, the love for electronic music will bring out the love in people.
But please, take it back to the Ostrich farm? As there are no real benefits to having it at the stadium besides that it is more central.
So was Ultra Green on point or nah? Unfortunately I have to say nah. It was still a blast though, I guess the outdoor experience at the Ostrich farm just is a better one!
Looking forward to see what Ultra 2018 bring. (Deadmau5, Skrillex and Eric Prydz please!)
PS. IF YOU ATTENDED ULTRA PLEASE COMMENT BELOW AND LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THOUGHT 🙂 ALSO LETS TRY KEEP THE LITTER TO MINIMUM NEXT TIME!
IMAGES COURTESY OF MY SAMSUNG. DASH BERLIN PHOTO IMAGE BY SAMSUNG OF THE ULTRA SOUTH AFRICA PAGE.
Dance and be happy.