Miami City Council votes in favor of Ultra Music Festival move to Virginia Key

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Miami City Council votes in favor of Ultra Music Festival move to Virginia KeyUltra 2018 Mainstage ALIVE Coverage

In late September, news surfaced that Ultra Music Festival had been booted from its longtime home at Bayfront Park. It didn’t take long for the event organizers to propose a new host venue about ten minutes away on Virginia Key, and on November 15, the Miami City Council brought the proposal to an official vote. Even amid contentious opposition from Rapture Music Festival and residents of Key Biscayne, the vote passed — officially moving Ultra to a new home for the first time since 2001.

After more than three hours of heated deliberation, Miami Marine Stadium and Historic Virginia Key Beach Park in Virginia Key became the new host venue for Ultra Music Festival. The vote ended 4-1 in favor of the move, though the decision ultimately came down to two council members on the edge of a “yes” vote. The two year deal does include some contingencies — there’s the possibility of revocation within 60 days after the 2019 festival if certain circumstances occur. What’s more, Ultra has to pay $2 million to the city of Miami in order to sell up to 60,000 tickets to the festival.

But perhaps the grass will be greener in Virginia Key as Ultra opens a new chapter in the festival’s illustrious history. We’ll see come March, 2019.

Photo credit: EDMkevin.com / Kevin Verkruijssen

Ultra calls out Key Biscayne mayor-elect for ‘defamatory’ remarks

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Ultra calls out Key Biscayne mayor-elect for ‘defamatory’ remarksUltra Virginia Key Statement 1

The going has certainly been tough for the internationally celebrated Ultra Miami to obtain new stomping grounds after the city stripped it of its longtime Bayfront Park housing this past September. The tumultuous process has reached new levels of discord after the Mayor-Elect of Key Biscayne Mike Davey issued the festival and its organizers some overtly captious remarks, characterizing it as a potential “disaster.” Ultra has recently zeroed in on Virginia Key—which is adjacent to Biscayne—as a potential dwelling place for its 2019 installment, hence the resentment.

Davey assigns his scruples with Ultra’s intended move-in to environmental impacts, a likely traffic influx, and “an increase in alcohol and drug-related violence.” Ultra organizers issued a lengthy response repudiating these accusations.

It is deeply regrettable that Mayor-Elect, Mike Davey and the Village of Key Biscayne have elected to publish statements that are knowingly false and misleading rather than to first seek to collaborate with either Ultra representatives or its City of Miami partners (if for no other purpose but to gather accurate facts and to gain an understanding of Ultra’s commitment and obligations respecting, traffic mitigation and environmental and historical preservation planning).

The statement tackles the delivery of the Davey-narrated public announcement, which Ultra affiliates have contended is misleading and inaccurate in its entirety. Ultra spokesperson, Ray Martinez went so far as to say it, “potentially criminalizes [Ultra’s] patrons.”

By opting to instead circulate what appears to be primarily stock photos (unrelated to Ultra) featuring used needles, polluted shorelines, traffic gridlock, by falsely and intentionally reporting that potentially hundreds of thousands of attendees will be converging on the Rickenbacker Causeway and by falsely stating that the City of Miami had purportedly evicted Ultra for environmental destruction, increased alcohol and drug-related violence, safety risks and by reporting other untruths is blatantly disreputable.

In the video, Davey also alludes to his concern for the sanctity of Virginia Key’s unique historical significance, and the potential harm he believes the festival could bring to the Key’s beachfront, specifically. It should be noted, however, Ultra has and continues to consult environmental authorities, civil engineers, and conservation experts in order to assess and subsequently mediate the event’s potential impact on its surroundings.

Davey isn’t alone in his scrutiny of the festival either, as Ultra already received thorough contest from the Virginia Key villagers after organizers released a draft of agreement plans for venue proceedings. An official vote on Ultra’s move to Virginia Key is slated for Nov 15.

Read Ultra’s full statement below:

It is deeply regrettable that Mayor-Elect, Mike Davey and the Village of Key Biscayne have elected to publish statements that are knowingly false and misleading rather than to first seek to collaborate with either Ultra representatives or its City of Miami partners (if for no other purpose but to gather accurate facts and to gain an understanding of Ultra’s commitment and obligations respecting, traffic mitigation and environmental and historical preservation planning). By opting to instead circulate what appears to be primarily stock photos (unrelated to Ultra) featuring used needles, polluted shorelines, traffic gridlock, by falsely and intentionally reporting that potentially hundreds of thousands of attendees will be converging on the Rickenbacker Causeway and by falsely stating that the City of Miami had purportedly evicted Ultra for environmental destruction, increased alcohol and drug-related violence, safety risks and by reporting other untruths is blatantly disreputable. The offending publication(s) by Mayor-Elect, Mike Davey and the Village of Key Biscayne is patently false and inaccurate and was made with reckless disregard of the truth. “It unfairly disparages our brand and potentially criminalizes our patrons,” says Ray Martinez, Ultra’s spokesperson. The publications made by the Mayor-Elect are believed to be defamatory, as are the horrendous images that were published in an effort to purportedly inflame and scare residents and stakeholders. Ultra condemns this conduct and cautions that such leadership is irresponsible and wrongful on multiple factual and legal grounds including that the disturbing images were not associated with the Ultra Music Festival brand.

Resident backlash erupts as draft of Ultra Music Fest’s Virginia Key agreement surfaces

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Resident backlash erupts as draft of Ultra Music Fest’s Virginia Key agreement surfacesUltra Music Key Biscayne Resident Backlash

With their 18-year run in Miami’s downtown coming to a sudden end, Ultra Music Festival is in the process of moving its flagship three-day fest to Virginia Key — but it’s not all all palm trees and PLUR for the residents of neighboring Key Biscayne. A draft of the agreement in question has surfaced, and the island is rallying heavily in opposition to the proposed plan.

With the island only reachable via Ultra’s prospective new home, residents held an emergency meeting on November 5 to air concerns ranging from noise, environmental damage, unmanageable traffic, and more. From all accounts, this isn’t just an average neighborhood rabble — citizens have hired a PR firm for the fight ahead, and promise to mobilize and resist the agreement however possible. With the November 15 vote to secure Ultra’s new home fast approaching, the sudden pushback could spell trouble for the fest’s future digs.

Photo credit: EDMKevin

Ultra confirms intention to move to Virginia Key

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Ultra confirms intention to move to Virginia KeyUltra Recap 1

Tumultuous times have fallen upon Ultra‘s flagship Miami edition. Resident efforts and other factors culminated in a “no” vote from the City Commission to renew their five-year license, ending an era that lasted nearly two decades.

But the show must go one, as they say. The behemoth festival brand has set its sights on the nearby Virginia Key, per a dual confirmation from organizers and city officials that negotiations were in the works to move to this location. Currently, plans are to move the iconic three-day dance festival over to the Miami Marine Stadium; however, complications have already arisen due to the fact that the Miami International Boat Show takes place at the same time and venue. Ultra has noted their desire to run the festivals “in tandem” with one another, in two separate areas of the park. They’ve also run into an obstacle with Rapture Festival’s booking on the space, but organizers are fairly confident the smaller, underground-focused event will end up moving locations should their plans come to fruition.

A vote to determine whether or not the move to Virginia Key will be able to take place will be held on November 15.

 

H/T: Miami Herald

Tiësto releases the infectious guilty pleasure ‘Grapevine’

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Tiësto releases the infectious guilty pleasure ‘Grapevine’Tiesto Interview 1

Tiësto has released his latest single, “Grapevine.” Premiered at Ultra Music Festival earlier this year, the track employs a universally recognizable vocal sample from the prince of soul, Marvin Gaye‘s rendition of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.” And if the album art is any indication, this one is meant for peak energy festival play.

But “Grapevine” isn’t the one note, main stage-only kind of production one might expect from the Dutch superstar. It pays homage to its main attraction’s soulful roots, seeing Tiësto continue on a venture into deeper territory, moving away from a formulaic structure. Percussion replaces synth progressions, creating an interesting — even surprising — course of development throughout the track. Like Gaye’s original track, this one should be able to attract a wide range of fans.

This single is the Grammy winner’s second original release of 2018, following the single “WOW.”

Ultra responds to being booted from Miami’s Bayfront Park

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Ultra responds to being booted from Miami’s Bayfront ParkUltra Umf Rukes

After the Sept. 27 announcement from Miami City Commission that Ultra Music Festival would no longer be allowed in Bayfront Park, the festival has issued a statement in response.

In a Facebook post published hours after the announcement, festival organizers said they’re “disappointed” with the outcome of the decision, but that they’re working on “establishing a resolution that works for everyone.” Organizers also took time in the post to clear the air about some of the decision’s ramifications, noting that the vote “represents only a denial of certain terms of the current proposed five-year contract, rather than the continued production of the overall festival itself.”

Ultra has taken place in Miami for the past 18 years, but continued complaints from area residents of over the years have caused the issue to be taken up with the Miami City Commission. Though it remains unclear where the festival will take place next year, it appears from this announcement that festival-goers can remain hopeful that the organizers will concoct a solution.

Photo credit: Rukes

Ultra Music Festival has been expelled from Bayfront Park

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Ultra Music Festival has been expelled from Bayfront ParkUltra Japan 1

Ultra Music Festival has been a staple in Miami for 18 years. But its run is finally over.

Today, the City of Miami Commission voted to deny the festival a new five-year agreement forcing the longstanding event to find a new home.

There wasn’t much debate on the commission and the final vote was unanimous, arguing that downtown residents have been complaining for years that the festival was too loud and chaotic for the residential neighborhood.

Despite opposition, Ultra had hope that the commission might still let the festival return, just for a shorter term, but there hopes were quickly dashed after Ultra’s spokesperson Ray Martinez asked to defer the vote and was confronted by Joe Carollo.

“What you are trying to do is take away the decision from the [Bayfront Park Management Trust] and get the deal you want and leave the [DNA] out in the cold. Where is the transparency here? You guys know that I know what you are up to.”

It is unclear where Ultra Music Festival will take place next year.

Via: Miami New Times

Miami city commissioner to Ultra Music Festival: pay $2M annual fee to city to renew Bayfront Park contract, or relocate

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Ultra Music Festival organizers will face a steep price tag if they wish to keep Miami’s veteran music event in its longtime location of Bayfront Park in the years to come.

The Downtown Neighbors Alliance (DNA) circulated a petition in July 2017 that called on Miami’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board to return access to Bayfront Park — DNA residents’ “neighborhood park” — to downtown Miami locals. “Since the beginning of 2017, Bayfront Park has been closed to the public or in a state of disrepair for over 100 days because of mega-concerts like Ultra and Rolling Loud,” the document read. The petition surpassed 1,100 signatures when it reached the hands of Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo.

Now, the feud between downtown Miami dwellers and large scale Bayfront Park hosted music events like Ultra Music Festival will come to a head as Carollo presents UMF orchestrators with a financially oriented ultimatum: pay $2 million annual payments to the agency that oversees Bayfront Park, or take Ultra elsewhere.

UMF organizers’ previous contract permitted the festival to occupy Bayfront for a five-year period. In exchange, Ultra Music Festival paid the city of Miami a sum comprised of a usage fee and a ticket surcharge that was then tacked onto the cost of each individual UMF admission cost. The city collected an average of about $663,000 from UMF over the five-year stretch, notably enjoying an elevated profit of $742,000 in 2018. Given that Ultra’s contract expired in 2018, festival organizers will need to make swift and strategic moves if they plan to keep Bayfront Park as Ultra’s home location.

While Miami residents like Rev. Pedro Martinez continue to call upon city officials like Carollo to ‘stop the prostitution of the park to multiple events,’ Ultra lobbyist Ray Martinez reiterates the global value inherent in the festival that, in many ways, put Miami on the musical map. ‘Let’s look at the positives,’ Ray Martinez said, ‘We talk about Miami wanting to be a world-class city. Ultra is a world-class event. It is the Art Basel of electronic music.’

Rolling Loud is also expected to face steep fees if it seeks to return to the park in future years of festival production. Neither Ultra nor Rolling Loud have commented on the recent contract related complications.

Photo Credit: aLIVE Coverage

H/T: Miami Herald

Report: The most commonly used drugs at music festivals

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Over the years, drug and alcohol’s relationship with electronic dance music has heightened its foothold in worldwide festival culture. Music festivals themselves undeniably afford a collective culture of intoxication — a palpable permeation of substance use and abuse that one can sniff out regardless of whether they choose to partake or not. Considering substance abuse’s assimilation, one may find themselves wondering just how deeply drugs and alcohol are intertwined with the modern festival landscape. Is substance abuse worse than it seems, and how is the industry taking responsibility for its needed conversations about these substances and their abuse?

In an effort to gain a better understanding of the how the industry is working through its deeply embedded substance use and abuse, it’s helpful to first try and understand the roles different substances play at festivals. To do so, TickPick — an ever-growing ticketing marketplace — surveyed 1,000 attendees of well-known music festivals about their own intoxicating experiences. Their participants ranged in age from 18 to 74, with a mean of 32.4. In the end, their results revealed not only the common types of drugs at festivals and which events are associated with which substances, but a general synopsis as to what the landscape of American consumption looks like in 2018 and beyond.

Overall substance use at festivals

More than three-quarters of participants reported consuming alcohol while attending a festival, which is roughly double the percentage of participants who had consumed any other substance and almost more than twice the rate of those who consumed marijuana.

Though more than a third of respondents reported smoking marijuana at a festival, a smaller, yet still significant portion of people reported using harder drugs. Thirteen percent of respondents reported using MDMA in some form, with hallucinogens’ use clocking just below at roughly eight percent apiece.

Substances use per ticket type

There remains some debate about the optimal festival experience: dance it up with the raucous crowd, or keep things refined with VIP privileges? Whichever route one takes, TickPick’s data suggests a slightly boozier vibe outside the VIP area. Generally, it suggests that a larger portion of general admission attendees consume alcohol, which may come to a surprise to those in VIP, with the complimentary alcohol some of the VIP experiences entail.

On the other side of the spectrum, the data found that VIP attendees generally were more likely to do a range of drugs than those in general admission. Between marijuana, MDMA, cocaine, and hallucinogens, VIP pass-holders were substantially more willing to indulge than the average festival-goer. A possible explanation for this trend is financial limitations. As VIP experiences can cost upwards of thousands of dollars, one can imagine these individuals can succumb to the use of any substance at their disposal.

Greatest substance prevalence per festival

Though alcohol was the leading substance at all festivals, TickPick’s data brings about some interesting findings on other substances. One might expect Coachella would have the highest rate of marijuana-smoking in the cannabis-friendly state of California, but the data aligns quite well with the bans of the substance on the grounds, despite the state’s recent legalization of weed for recreational use. EDC and Ultra each had high rates of MDMA and cocaine consumption, and ultimately, Burning Man had some of the highest rates of overall drug use around. Perhaps this significant rate of consumption can be pinned on the festival’s “gift economy,” where food, supplies, and even drugs are shared openly as a means of “payment.”

Top festivals for each substance

Ultimately, the final data lends itself to some idea of each respective festival’s consumption demographic. SXSW, for instance, led in rates of alcohol consumption. While cocaine use was the highest amongst Ultra attendees, a finding that may result from a mix of EDM culture and the festival’s deep historical roots for the drug and a recent resurgence in Miami’s cocaine trafficking.

While geographical differences may explain some findings, it is a bit difficult to understand why Alabama’s Hangout Music Festival led others in DMT use, as just one example. EDC was another consumption leader across the different categories, also ranking in the top three for a number of substances. This point ties into the festival’s battle with health and safety concerns with drug use in the past, including more than 1,000 attendees needing medical treatment in 2017. Though there are issues and ambiguity within the self-reported data like TickPick used for this study— including,  but not limited to, selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and exaggeration — these results do shine a light on the landscape of American substance use, nonetheless. Here’s to hoping some of these findings diminish the blind eye to EDM’s drug abuse, increases awareness, and implements further safety precautions down the line.

Via: TickPick 
Featured Image: Courtesy of Goldenvoice

Turn it up: Tiësto’s ‘I Like It Loud’ EP has arrived

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Tiesto

If the strength of an artist’s performance at Ultra Music Festival, the official opener to each festival season, predicts that of one’s year as Hardwell claims, then Tiësto is positioned to make nothing but power moves in 2018.

Tiësto’s no-holds-barred performance at Ultra 20 notably featured five new IDs, and the announcement that the festival favorite would drop an ensuing EP on the Friday following the conclusion of Ultra’s anniversary celebration. After the consecutive release of two singles that signaled the sonic leanings of the EP, “Dawnbreaker,” and “Coming Home,” I Like It Loud has arrived just in time to quell fans’ post-Ultra blues.

Although “Dawnbreaker” deviates from Tiësto’s recent gravitation towards the big room constructions characteristic of commercial festival sets in its more muted approach, one distinctly reminiscent of Tiësto’s trance beginnings, I Like It Loud is a product of palpable, main stage-oriented energy. The EP’s title anticipates the vigor of the production as a whole, one that is further supplemented by the two remaining tracks on the EP, the eponymous “I Like It Loud,” and “Break The House Down.” The first release since Tiësto’s fifth studio album in 2014, the songs that comprise I Like It Loud will render the EP a formidable force in the 2018 festival circuit.