With Ultra Music Festival's addition of a second weekend to celebrate its 15 years, March 15 marks the start of a two-week block saturated with dubstep, house, and drum and bass.
The headliners are no surprise: There's Tiesto, David Guetta, Deadmau5 and Bassnectar. But Ultra pits those DJs against instrument-driven acts such as the indie-rock duo Sleigh Bells and hipster-pop group Yeasayer. At some point during its run, the festival's appeal grew wide enough to also book Snoop Dogg and the Weeknd on the same bill.
But 13 years before Ultra's debut, the first Winter Music Conference took place at a Fort Lauderdale hotel. Now, the conference's 10 days of dance-music workshops and panels unofficially coincide with Ultra and include sanctioned pool parties and club shows.
A number of independent parties and shows will spring up during this time, which has come to be known as Miami Music Week. You can catch some Ultra artists at these shows if you're not a ticket-holder, although at presstime, three-day general-admission tickets were still going for $370. The price is not exorbitant considering the lineup, location and duration of the festival. But here's some help choosing how to spend your limited cash.
Ultra Music Festival
March 15-17 and March 22-24 at Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., in Miami. Full lineup at UltraMusicFestival.com.
This year, Azealia Banks is a must-see. Her mix of R&B, tongue-twisting verses and smooth house beats has pulled the 21-year-old Harlem rapper from YouTube and onto the stage. She'll perform at Ultra's amphitheater both Sundays after Major Lazer, who will follow Snoop Dogg.
The rapper's recent rechristening as Snoop Lion didn't stop him from releasing an EDM mixtape as DJ Snoopadelic, a marriage of Snoop Dogg and Funkadelic, according to Fader Magazine.
Also live from the amphitheater will be dark-electro duo Crystal Castles, on March 15, after a set by Nicolas Jaar. Both acts offer a middle ground for lovers of club-friendly dance beats and introspective, experimental pop. Crystal Castles will also perform the second Sunday, before Pretty Lights, a one-man show in the same vein of EDM.
Winter Music Conference
March 15-24 at multiple venues in Miami and Miami Beach. Full lineup at WinterMusicConference.com.
Affordable parties are sprinkled in between the remixing and editing workshops held during WMC, such as the Clevelander's On Top of the World affair on March 22, featuring 15 DJs for $5. The next day at the Viceroy Hotel's Club 50, DJ Paul Oakenfold and about a dozen others will spin at the Electric Splash Rooftop Pool Party. Admission is $45.
Official WMC events include showcases of EDM by region, as in the South African Miami Invasion March 23 at Ocean's Ten for $35. The day before at Tantra Lounge, Los Angeles Invades Miami touts DJs George Acosta and D:Fuse. Admission for that show is $20.
Another strand of parties round up female DJs. Shejays on the Beach March 22 at Automatic Slim's ($15), and Women Man the Decks March 19 at the Clevelander ($10) are some of them.
All these shows are free with a WMC badge, which costs $475 at the event's website. The price includes admission to trade sessions and discounted entry to any conference events that aren't free. Most of the club shows are open to the public.
Miami Music Week
March 15-24 at multiple venues in Miami and Miami Beach. Full lineup at MiamiMusicWeek.com
The Red Bull Guest House at Highbar at the Dream Hotel, 111 Collins Ave., will host Skrillex, A-Trak, Baauer of "Harlem Shake" fame, and others March 21-24 for a series of pool parties and breakfasts at about 3 a.m.
The three DJs will perform at Ultra, as well, and it might be easier to catch them at the festival. The Red Bull events are invite-only. Follow @RedBullMIA on Twitter for a chance to snag an invitation.
Skrillex will also bring his questionable hair fashion to Story Miami, 136 Collins Ave., on March 19. Tickets cost $56.50 for women and $101.70 for men at WanTickets.com.
Finally, A-Trak will headline Grand Central's Hard Miami March 20-21. The lineup features moombahton, that electro-mix of reggaeton and house music, by Nadastrom. On the first day, Australian artist Flume will perform his soul remixes while in town for his first American show outside of SXSW. Tickets cost $40.05 per day at GrandCentralMiami.com.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun