Ultra Singapore returned once again, with much fanfare, carrying on from the colossal success it was when it first launched last year. An estimated 50,000 festival goers attended the electronic dance music (EDM) festival held on 10 and 11 June, with a sizeable portion of the contingent coming from abroad; some as far as Kenya.
The festival retained a familiar set-up, with the three-stage set-up catered specifically to the various performers needs. The stages were spaced out adequately, ensuring that despite an overlapping of certain sets, audiences were able to only tune in to one performer at a time. The massive crowd must also have been extremely pleased to find toilets in abundance and in locations all around the festival grounds.
Perhaps due to the sheer scale of the festival, security was at the foremost of its priorities with a thorough body search the first order of business upon arrival. This was on top of the festival’s strict “carry-on” policy that saw an assortment of items such as opened packs of cigarettes and even eyedrops being discarded before entry.
The first day of the festival started off rather slowly, with crowds only starting to form nearer to after mid-day, when the scorching sun was slowly setting. Nonetheless, many early birds could be seen forming small sit-down clusters, enjoying the music in a more languid fashion. Queues at that time had yet to form at the various food bars, and many were also seen at the various sponsor booths getting temporary tattoos or purveying the wide array of merchandise available that were selling quickly.
By the time Dash Berlin started his set, the Ultra Mainstage was a dense wall of human bodies united in synchronised jumping to the music. A light drizzle had also started to form, providing some form of heat relief especially to those at the front who would have definitely felt the heat from the massive pyrotechnics that was also in sync to the different beats and drops.
Drizzle soon turned to heavy showers and a mass migration started to form with many eager to escape the mud piles forming on the ground that they stood upon. The previously relatively unexplored Resistance stage that, rather unfortunately, saw its only full house crowd during this period as it was the largest sheltered section on site. Just as quickly as the crowd formed, the rain subsided and the Resistance stage was left with only a handful possibly eager to avoid the clusters forming elsewhere; a trend that kept consistent over both days.
The day ended off with a huge bang with electro house legends Hardwell and Tiesto turning the crowd into a huge frenzy. Song after song, drop after drop, and both sets showed no intention of slowing down and many familiar faces hardly showed any signs of fatigue with boisterous cheers suggesting that day one was merely a warm-up.
Having said that, one would be inclined to suggest that the standout act of the day belonged to Rich Chigga. The 17-year old rapper hailing from Indonesia delivered a charisma-fuelled performance that featured his breakout hit “Dat $tick” and “Bankroll”. There were also sneak previews of songs off his upcoming debut album as the crowd sang along and cheered to what could potentially be the next breakout hit of the year. It all certainly looked too easy for the youngest performer in the entire line-up.
With the furiously, breakneck tempo of the festival already set, day two started with large numbers showing up earlier in the day to completely take in all that was on offer, including get their fix of temporary tattoos and shot glass sets courtesy of Desperados. Certain pieces of merchandise had by then also been sold out completely and food queues were considerably longer than the previous day with many buying “advance” drinks in anticipation for a longer stay in the crowd.
Day two arguably also had a more even distribution of big name acts, with many moving between the Ultra Mainstage and Livestage to toggle between the likes of Steve Aoki, KSHMR, Steve Angello and Pendulum. The cliché but warranted act of the day would belong to Steve Aoki. It was the constant crowd interaction or the variety of tracks that encompassed the various EDM styles, or even maybe the predictable and signature cake tosses at the audience that merged man and music into one distinct character. It would, however, be unfair to KSHMR considering the scale of their live performance that included a string ensemble playing in sync to the songs seamlessly.
Alas, what is a music festival without its fair share of drama? A flight delay meant that Don Diablo would end up playing a truncated set to the backdrop of major disagreements between management of event and performer instead of the planned pyrotechnics. Technical faults also threatened to derail Pendulum’s closing set as tech and stage crew scrambled over an apparent guitar fault for almost 20 minutes.
Perhaps the overall highlight of the festival would come closer from home with a handful of local acts performing to enthusiastic but otherwise modest numbers. The likes of Sam Rui, Jasmine Sokko, Shigga Shay and MYRNE certainly flew our own flag high alongside their international counterparts.
With each year superseding its predecessor, the sky would indeed be the limit for the following edition as would be the expectations. Who knows? A rotating stage? Or maybe even a 3-D experience? Looking forward to next year already!
Photos by Jon Ooi. See the full photo gallery of Ultra Singapore HERE.