Some of us judge Ultra Music Festival by the, how should we say, "chemical experiences," yet others of us have the novel idea of actually judging it by the music. This is supposed to be America's premier electronic and dance music festival, ain't it? This year's fest has all your bottle service dance music favorites and quality musicians, but lacks the oomph and surprise of years past.
It got us thinking about who we would have liked to see, and then it got us thinking about who we're surprised have never actually played the festival before. We tried to do our homework and make sure that none of them have played Ultra before, but earlier line-ups are hard to come across online. We're at least certain none have played since the fest became the two day extravaganza at Bicentennial Park.
Some are your typical elusive and reclusive beat makers, others rarely make it to the US, while a few honestly have us scratching our heads wondering why they haven't been down. So here's our top ten act we wish would play Ultra, but for whatever never have.
The maestro of minimal and hands down one of the most critically acclaimed DJs in the world refuses to play on American soil after being detained in LA post-9/11 and interrogated over why his family fled from Chile during the Pincohet year (ah, that damn Pincohet). Though, now with Obama in office there's, ahem, "hope." He told XLR8R last year that he'd love to play America if he was
invited to a cultural event. Of course, the example he gave was playing
at Carnegie Hall, but c'mon Villalobos this is South Florida, not Sarah
Palin's idea of "Real America," and you know what they say, ""The best
thing about Miami is how close it is to the United States." In the
meantime we'll just continue to be freaked out by his "Blood on My
Let's forget the fact that Richard D. James himself hates the term IDM or "Intelligent Dance Music" for a moment, and remember the cynical implication of those that use the term is that a lot of the other dance music at Ultra would then be "Unintelligent Dance Music." Maybe that explains why the fest hasn't played host to many of the Warp records greats. Then again, they did get The Orb to headline two years ago, so hopefully they'd be open to Aphex Twin (assuming he's open to Ultra). If not, we wouldn't mind the likes of Autechre or Luke Vibert in his place.
Over ten years in existence, and yet live performances by the brother and sister duo of The Knife are still a rarity. Which is a shame, because the clips we've seen of their live gigs are amazing. Seriously, the video art and lightings are just all you could ask from a mainly electronic group performing live. Maybe one day they'll get over their media shyness and give into the world's desperate hope for an exhaustive world tour and a stop at Bicentennial Park.
We've exhaustively checked Google, searched through our archives, and pestered people, and if we're wrong forgive us because we can't believe what we're about to type: Basement Jaxx has never played Ultra. They seem like a perfect fit for the fest, and more than any other act on this list it wouldn't surprise if it falls in to place someday. Hell, with the release of two albums in 2009 we're surprised it didn't fall into place this year.
Dubstep is everywhere, including Ultra's line-up. But one of its biggest star is "nowhere." At this point we know the name of the man behind "Burial," and have seen his picture, but not much else. He's never played or DJed live, so we're not even sure what he'd do if given a slot on a festival stage, but we can bet that a good chunk of the electronic music world is eager to find out. If he ever does decide to make his live presence know, we'll be looking to Ultra to do everything they can to book him.
Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May
With the exception of Richie Hawtin and the like, UMF's roster never seems to rep Detroit too much. A little too much Carl Cox, not enough Carl Craig. But no Detroit absence has been more glaring than that of Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May. These three classmates from Belleville High School pretty much invented techno, and they're all still active. Why Ultra doesn't try to at least book one of these guys a year is beyond us. With out their innovations they wouldn't even have a festival.
Though, they individually play Miami every once in a while as it is, so if we really wanted something special we'd request a rare live appearance by Saunderson's group Inner City.
Every guitar based band that's played at Ultra has pretty much taking a page out of the New Wave playbook, and no New Wave band has been as openly embraced by techno DJs quite like Depeche Mode. In fact, we're pretty sure Depeche Mode songs could be heard in mixes at just about every Ultra, but it's about time the band itself played. With New Order broken up, they're our dream '80s band booking, and they sure as hell make a lot more sense than The Cure.
Ultra could always use some lady power, and Bjork has been all over the dance music spectrum. Well, everywhere but Ultra. Some of her music may not be the most dance-able, but has anyone ever accused her of being boring? She's no stranger to headlining festivals, but she does seem like a stranger to the Southern United State, so an Ultra booking would be a slam dunk. While we're on the cultural fantasy tip, maybe she could get her husband to stop by and do something in Wynwood.
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Arguably in the top 5 most influential bands in modern pop music, and hands down the most influential in electronica. If it wasn't for Kraftwerk, Winter Music Conference would sound a whole lot different. It only makes sense they'd be near the top of any Ultra Music Festival wish list. Even after the departure of Florian Schneider, the band still makes sporadic festival showings. They may be the robots, but they're also (aging) men and who knows how much longer they'll keep the live shows going. If Ultra wants to declare itself the premier electronic music festival in America, it sure would help to book the premier electronic band of all time.
Speaking of elusive electro musicians with robot disguises, every single year when talk of Ultra's forthcoming line-up comes up, there's always whispers, "Is this the year? Is Daft Punk finally coming to Ultra?" Sure, they played Ultra's short-lived autumn rival Bang! in 2006, but that's not Ultra. One day hopefully, the stars and the tour dates will align and Daft Punk will once again grace a Miami festival, but with the band's unpredictable nature we'll never really know until it actually happens.
Yes, we saved this one for last because we knew you'd purposefully click through to make sure we included it.
Other dream acts: M.I.A., Donna Summer doing a Giorgio Moroder-only set, Ellen Allien, Hercules and Love Affair live complete with Antony on vocals, Hot Chip, Lady Gaga (are we being controversial for the sake of it or sincere?) Trentemøller, Royksopp, Gui Boratto The Emperor Machine, Lindstrøm, Optimo... take your turn in the comments.