Skrillex and his fans are pretty much the definition of brostep, and if you don't know what that is then good. He does the the crowd going though, just not my type of crowd.
Simian Mobile Disco is one of my favorite electronic groups ever. I love their sound, but more importantly it is their style and musicinaship in a live setting that really sets them apart. Their tower of equipment is fully visible and you can see them working to make the music. I've always preferred being able to fully realize the talent it takes to create this music, not just play and mix others' tunes. Acts like Orbital, Prefuse 73, Chemical Brothers and Simian stimulate me the most with their live rigs, and if you've got great songs to match then you're golden in my book. Simian did however get stuck with a weird time slot this year, still fully light out playing a little before sunset on the live stage. Last time I saw them at Ultra they closed out the live stage and it was literally seizure inducing (as in I saw a guy drop right in front of me into a seizure and had to help carry him out of the crowd because his fucked up friends did nothing). So really the reduced risk of that happening again and the lack of conflicts at the time made me able to enjoy their set fully and really watch what they were doing.
After the show there was some small debate about staying for Boys Noize or heading to Moby, but we decided we wanted to check out the crazy tent and I knww for a fact that Moby was going to destroy the tent. And damn he brought it hard, if you think a Moby DJ set sounds anything like his stuff off Play you'd be in for a surprise. The big beats he was dropping combined with the insane setting of the tent (just look at that thing) made for a completely wild and satisfying set. Props to the diminutive vegan for coming hard with such a large sound. I had to leave before he finished to catch some Cut Copy, but what I saw was more than satisfying.
The show was a mix of classics including Two Months Off, King of Snake, and the aforementioned Born Slippy, mixed in with a healthy dose of new cuts. I had only heard a bit of the new album but their new songs really struck me, particularly Between Stars and Scribble which I took some excellent video of and I think captures the energy of their show quite well. Karl's enthusiasm was palpable, and their team of producers behind their custom mixing board (Underworld always plays with a custom setup, they don't rock the normal DJ decks that most people playing the mainstage can just switch off on) gave him the music to feed off of. Even though the crowd was littered with Deadmau5 fans, many of whom probably didn't even really know who Underworld was, they were still enthralled. The extended tracks which could sometimes last over 10 minutes built to powerful endings that were impossible to resist. I'm sure Underworld made some new fans at this show, and he sure as hell pleased this old one.
Our group didn't want to stick around for Deadmau5, who was labeled as the true "headliner" for the day which is pretty bogus considering his body of work, so we pushed our way out of the thick crowd to go see Empire of the Sun. This is a band that's been on the radar a lot recently, their hit Walking On a Dream is known by many and I'm pretty sure has been in commercials as well. I wouldn't say that tune really gives an accurate depiction of their live show, it was a lot harder and intense than I expected. Adorned in some outrageous costumes with even more ridiculous visuals it was probably the trippiest show of the day I saw. The music went through many different movements, sometimes there were vocals and it was more traditionally song based and other times it was straight hard electronica. Discenerning their setup was ahrd sometimes, because often they played with instruments, guitar, drums and keyboards but then at other time it just seemed to be more sequencers and controllers doing all the work when they went deeper into the dance music side of thing. Whatever was going on it was clearly appropriate for the Ultra crowd, everyone around me was loving it. And when they closed with the hit Walking On a Dream the crowd went nuts, a completely satisfying conclusion to their crazy show. I must say also they were very photogenic with the costumes and awesome backdrop they had, so I definitely got some good pictures:
The scene here was much calmer than Deadmau5, a lot fewer people and a much simpler setup. Claude VonStroke is DJ I only knew a little about, mostly his infamous tune The Whistler, and clearly the Ultra crowd was in a similar mindset because the tent was no more than a third full. He played some cool stuff but the energy wasn't really there, and he seemed maybe like he was a little drunk himself (I definitely caught a sloppy mix into a new tune during his set). I did appreciate the dancers strewn about the stage but I only stayed for a bit and went back to check out the end of Deadmau5 and try and work out my ride situation.