Ultra Festival Buenos Aires
The revolutionary, world-renowned dance music festival that is Ultra arrived in Buenos Aires for a second year running, this time boasting a selection of the world’s top DJs, including the legendary five time DJ Mag No. 1, Armin van Buuren.
The festival was split into two days over the course of one week, though sadly I only had the opportunity to attend the second day, which certainly didn’t disappoint! Divided into three stages – the main stage, Carl Cox & Friends and the Armada Stage – there was a variety of genres at our disposal but, being a Trance head myself, I principally stuck to the Armada stage.
First up was fast rising Progressive DJ Omnia, who I managed to catch just as the epic ‘Fusion’ (ft. IRA) was coming on, undoubtedly one of his most popular releases; so popular in fact, that he dropped it a second time towards the end of his set. Without wanting the rest of his performance to be an anti-climax, Omnia went on to drop a series of big tunes such as Ummet Ozcan’s ´The Box,’ ‘D.U.I’ by Gareth Emery & Ashley Wallbridge and Tiesto’s ten year old classic, ‘Love Comes Again’ featuring BT, as glorious, fat drops of rain began to fall on the crowd. It was a great start to the night and one which demonstrated just how the young Ukranian made such an impact on the Trance scene last year.
Next up was DJ/producer duo Tenishia, who have produced some of the biggest Progressive Trance records on behalf of Armada. A number of these were played during their set, including ‘Always Loved, Never Forgotten (The Day Will Come)’ and ‘Point of No Return’, which they followed up with a fantastic mashup of their ‘Shores of Eden’ vs Armin Van Buuren’s ‘Not Another Day’. Perhaps the best moment came though when they dropped ‘Easy’ by Mat Zo and Porter Robinson, a real belter and firm favourite amongst the crowd.
The third act to grace the decks was Argentina’s own Heatbeat, and this was when things really got going. The patriotic crowd kept their hands in the air from start till finish, fist pumping to tunes such as ‘Game Over’, ‘Rocker Monster’ and the mind-blowing mashup with Solar Stone & Scott Bond vs. Armin van Buuren & Sophie Ellis-Bextor, ‘Not Giving Up On 3rd Earth’. All in all, it was a set that truly reflected their sheer versatility and which certainly impressed their fans that night.
As much as I enjoyed Omnia, Tenishia and Heatbeat, the highlight for me had to be the epic W&W, who were next to take to the stage. The multifarious Trance pair took the crowd by storm, playing one banger after the other, beginning with their own ‘Lift Off’, a rather apt choice for the debut of their set, and going on to drop tracks such as ‘Shotgun’, ‘Impact’ and the ASOT 550 anthem, ‘Invasion’. Everyone chanted the lyrics to their remix of the wonderful ‘Waiting’ by Dash Berlin featuring Emma Hewitt, and the chants became even louder when they dropped their mashup of Above & Beyond’s ‘Thing Called Love’ vs Hardwell’s ‘Spaceman.’ Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, they dropped another Above & Beyond belter – ‘Sun & Moon’, a tune which never fails to get the crowd singing along with their arms in the air.
By this time, the rain had really started to hammer down and everywhere you looked there were soggy ravers with big grins on their faces, seemingly unphased by how drenched they were getting. We decided to head over to the main stage for a change of scene, where we caught the last twenty minutes of Sander Van Doorn’s set. I was grateful to arrive in time for the beautiful ‘Nothing Inside’, featuring Mayaeni, a nice contrast to the pounding beats of W&W but, being the entertainer that he is, Sander soon upped the tempo again with the huge ‘Bamf’ by Qulinez and went on to drop TV Noise’s ‘Kill The Radio.’ He finished his set with one last blinder, W&W & Ummet Ozcan’s ‘The Code’, perfectly accompanied by that trademark electrifying smile of his.
Last but obviously not least was the mighty, legendary Trance icon that is Armin Van Buuren, who was also playing the main stage as opposed to that of his label. He began with his track ‘I’ll Listen’ featuring Ana Criado, a gentle introduction to get us nicely warmed up, then launched into another gorgeous vocal Trance title, ‘Forever Is Ours’ featuring Emma Hewitt. His latest track, ‘D# Fat’ with W&W received a very positive reception from avid fans of both artists, and the crowd (I in particular) was overjoyed to hear mashups of classics such as ‘In and Out of Love’ and ‘Shivers’. The John Askew remix of ‘Communication’ was another highlight, but by far the most euphoric moment came when he dropped Alex M.O.R.P.H. & Woody Van Eyden’s remix of the brilliant ‘Going Wrong’, another tune which is always sure to have the crowd singing along. Armin topped this brilliantly eclectic set off with his own remix of ‘This Light Between Us’ featuring Christian Burns, a dazzling end to a dazzling night, by which time there was not a single remotely dry soul left in the vicinity. All caked in mud and resembling a drowned rat, I headed for the exit, having decided to opt out of seeing Markus Schulz; I was simply too wet and cold. Overall it was an amazing event and a joy to see acts such as Heatbeat and Tenishia for the first time, as well as old favourites W&W and Armin. Now if only I could afford Ultra Miami…