Ultra or EDC: What's the Better EDM Festival?
Ultra Music Festival has been considered the largest electronic dance music festival in the world. It's won the International Dance Music Award for "Best Music Event" for six years, only losing this year to Tomorrrowland in Belgium. Even the Ibiza DJ Awards has called it the "Best International Dance Music Festival." But is it really all it's hyped up to be? Sure, it has the luxury of taking place during the Winter Music Conference, the only place in the world where you will see artists, DJs, execs, promoters and fans all in one city celebrating their passion for the same music. It unites people from over 70 different countries in one city, but are they really there for UMF? Or are the surrounding parties like the Swedish House Masquerade, Juicy Beach Pool Parties and Yacht soirees where it's really at? And is all this greatness at Ultra really as epic as Insomniac Event's Electric Daisy Carnival?
1. The Setting
UMF: Aside from all the amazing parties going on in the city all week, UMF also brings in unique music and talent. Featuring more than 300 artists on several different stages over a three-day period. UMF has grown over the years to bring in headliners such as The Prodigy, Deadtmau5, Underworld, Fatboy Slim and Justice. They also have crossover headliner bands who incorporate EDM into their live music like The Cure, The Killers, New Order, Duran Duran and Empire of the Sun in a very Coachella-like fashion. They bring in a lot more techno and tech house from all over the world than other festivals.
EDC: EDC takes place in Vegas over a three day period on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The venue is a hundred times better than Bayfront Park and actually supports the thousands of attendees without being too cramped or claustrophobic. Unlike UMF, which only goes on til midnight, EDC goes from sundown to sunrise, giving you a real massive all-night party. It's away from the strip, and residents don't have to worry about thousands of music fans being let loose into their city. If you're there to rage and party, why not do it til 6 a.m. in a city that never sleeps?
2. The Experience
UMF: UMF is really just a bunch of stages (put way too close together this year) with top notch DJs. You couldn't walk from stage to stage, let alone experience anything else but watching a girl make out with a tree as you make your way around.
EDC: Insomniac Events has always been passionate about the experience of their attendees. EDC is its own magical world from the moment you enter. Art is a big interactive part of the festival as they invite you to connect, interact, and discover all of the amazing pieces strategically placed between stages. The décor at EDC is like that of a giant amusement park filled with free carnival rides, delightfully decorated stages with signature daisies and theatrics to keep you entertained far beyond the music.
Last year as Afrojack took the stage he shouted, "Have you ever seen a stage this F*cking beautiful?" As him and other artists were flown in by helicopter into the speedway I could only imagine the excitement they got watching thousands of little ants explore this magical city which Insomniac has created for us. A nightly firework show over the Circuit Grounds stage which went on for what seemed like eternity in sync to the melodies of the music and skydivers flying in during Swedish House Mafia's set as confetti and balloons exploded everywhere are just small examples of all the glory that is EDC. Watching the sun rise on top of a ferris wheel as your favorite DJ takes the stage is an experience that UMF can't even compare to.
UMF: UMF is placed right in the heart of downtown Miami, overlooking the beautiful city skylines and waterfront. Besides that, however, getting around and finding the correct entrances were a serious pain in the butt. Security barely frisked any of the attendees I saw and everyone was allowed to bring in CamelBaks filled with who-knows-what. Once inside, getting all the way to the bathrooms, beer stands and $5 water vendors was not easy in the overcrowded event. The interaction between the hosts streaming live over UMF TV and tweeting with audiences was pretty epic. But even my friends watching back home thought it was nuts to see people up in the trees and scattered around everywhere unsafely. Sure they have a VIP section and lots of bars to get drinks but so do every other festivals and clubs you go to see your favorite acts.
EDC: Insomniac Events are the most put-together and coordinated festivals of their kind. Security thoroughly checks everyone as they walk in and safety is their number one priority. They offer multiple free water refill stations, offer cool zones with mist, fruit stands, drinks and anything you could possible need at the general store; from band aids to condoms they want you to be safe! (Just kidding, I don't know if they sell condoms but they might as well). Owner Pasquale Rotella genuinely cares about his attendees and always answers questions via Twitter, updates Facebook with traffic advice and weather conditions as he wants everyone to enjoy his events safely. The PLUR he shares with his staff, artists, and fans is something I've never seen at any other music festival. So congratulations on your "Best Event Promoter" win at the IDMA's Insomniac Events and kudos for always being ahead of the game.
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