As one of the most highly anticipated annual music festivals held in Singapore, it was plain to see that Ultra Music Festival 2018 remained an eminence on the music scene last weekend.
The largest EDM festival is also testament to the fact that music always has a way of bonding people from all walks of life despite our language barriers and the colours of our skin: in a span of just two days, friendships were forged, unforgettable experiences were made, and it was one heck of a party for most of us.
Upon entering the festival grounds at Bayfront Avenue, one would be greeted with not just the picturesque venue that had been creatively snapped to death in all possible angles by fellow Instagrammers; the obligatory sea of creative and quirky outfits donned by festival-goers would be hard to miss too. Away from the hustle and bustle of our 9 to 5 work life, taking a whiff of the Ultra air is reminiscent of a sense of freedom: festival goers were all dressed for the occasion and were raring to go with good music and company.
A common assumption would be that the Ultra Music Festival would only interest young adults and millennials, but as I was photographing the performances and the festival-goers, I noticed a man with white hair dancing his heart out to the beat of the music – he was definitely not the only “older” one amongst the crowd. Witnessing this, it was refreshing to see that both the young – and young at heart – were having a good time without any worry of judgment.
It was pretty clear that the three stages of Ultra Music Festival served different purposes: the Resistance stage was perfect for those who needed to give their dancing feet a break with some chill techno and deep house enjoyment, seeing the likes of headliners Coyu, Tunisian DJ Loco Dice, and Ukrainian DJ Nastia.
Among the three stages, the Worldwide Stage featured a much more intimate setting and a rocking atmosphere. Despite its smaller stage, the Worldwide Stage brought a much bigger presence due to the quality of the performances held there.
One of them was from our very own local DJ MYRNE, who performed a stellar set and had a guest appearance by Gentle Bones to boot. The duo delivered some tunes from their most recent collaboration, the B4NGER PROJECT album, leaving no doubt that they deserved standing on the Worldwide Stage as much as the globally-renowned EDM DJ producers.
Another noteworthy mention was Moldovan DJ Andrew Rayel’s set on day two, who brought the house down on that very stage. The man himself joined the audience into dancing with the music – keeping your feet rooted to the ground was impossible during a set as good as that.
For first-timers and those who do not really have a preferred act to go for during a certain set time, the Main Stage was the place to be. Thanks to its powerful sound speakers that pulsated through the entire mosh pit – complemented perfectly with its stunning lighting systems – most festival-goers were dazzled by the state-of-the-art stage production and the primo selection of acts that were slated to perform there.
During the first day of the festival, Dutch DJ Nicky Romero did the huge Main Stage justice with a fiery set performance. Midway through his set, he made a tribute to the late Avicii and played an unreleased song for the Ultra Singapore crowd. Titled “Heaven”, which featured vocals by Coldplay’s lead vocalist Chris Martin, Romero revealed to the Ultra Singapore crowd that it was a song Avicii had sent to him. It was truly an emotional moment and the sense of togetherness from the audience was much more evident when everyone lit their phones and held them up in respect of the late Swedish DJ.
On day two, Australian duo NERVO sizzled the Main Stage. Their colourful imagery – accompanied by the rapturous energy pumping throughout the set – made it difficult to take one’s eyes off the stage. One memorable incident that happened during their set was when the imminent sound of aircraft approaching the festival grounds hung over the stage. As if the airplanes were purporting a theatrical appearance to add to the festival vibes, the energetic crowd cheered on with a patriotic fervour as they later learnt that the Air Force was conducting their practice rounds.
You could say it was perfect timing, as the airplanes came into view right before a drop during NERVO’s set. Although the supersonic speed of the planes had drowned out the music albeit for a short moment, it got the Ultra crowd more hyped up than ever before, and everyone partied much harder right after that.
Among the top EDM acts that graced the Main Stage, Nicky Romero, Swedish Greek DJ Steve Angello, Dutch DJ Afrojack and NERVO’s sets were the most enjoyable ones as the crowd’s enthusiastic responses to their sets speak for itself. Moreover, I felt that these DJs’ stage presence were top notch – they knew exactly how to work the crowd and the right timing to bring people to the pinnacle of the drop during their sets.
Music aside, the booths that were set up for the festival added to the concert experience: DBS won a sizeable crowd at its booth with its insta-worthy waterfall swing, and Red Bull’s booth featured a basketball mini-game for festival-goers to flaunt their athletic skills. Over at Häagen-Dazs’ booth, free cocktails were given out in exchange for an Instagram post, and they even had props and face paint ready in case anyone needed them to glam up for the ‘gram – talk about throwing a mini cocktail party at their booth!
Being a music lover myself, the third edition of Ultra Music Festival in Singapore has comprehensively covered most EDM subgenres to cater to everyone – regardless of personal preferences and music tastes. It was also interesting to see that there were many countries represented at the festival even though it was held in Singapore, and some of us had probably walked out of the festival grounds forging new friendships with foreign friends who came for the sole purpose of attending the Ultra Music Festival here.
Now that the event is done and dusted, it felt like this year’s Ultra Music Festival came and left like a bass drop from the climax of a track.
Until the next drop, we already cannot wait to find out what’s in store for us in the fourth edition of Ultra Music Festival next year.
Photos by Arthur Keng and Brandon Neo of the DANAMIC Team.