You probably read the headline and either thought: “Hey this is interesting,” or “GTFO!”, and making such a bold statement when the general consensus doesn’t quite match is a risky undertaking. But if you look a little deeper at the Ultra SA 2019 lineup, you might be able to grasp how well thought out the lineup actually is.
Since 2014, Ultra SA have boasted the biggest lineups the country has seen, if not the entire continent. Superstar artists like Martin Garrix, Armin Van Buuren, Hardwell and Skrillex have taken to the stages over 5 years and have blown away audiences time and time again, much to the delight of EDM and dubstep fans.
But like the fall of dubstep has exemplified; electronic dance music is an ever-evolving macrocosm and will never be quite the same year-in and year-out. And judging by the industry’s loss in the US and European market share reported at IMS last year, the electronic music industry is in another state of flux—so too is the interest in EDM.
In previous years, the headliner bookings spoke to the current state of electronic dance music as a whole, which reflected as progressive trance, big room and electro house heavy lineups—with more underground house and techno stalwarts holding the fort as well—a format that has clearly worked for many. But with EDM DJs like Armin Van Buuren playing psy-trance in their sets, and psytrance duo Vini Vici jumping 38 spots on the DJ Mag Top 100 poll between 2017 and 2018, it’s clear that the psychedelic sister of trance is making a return in a big way.
Keeping this in mind, Ultra’s lineup for 2019 caters to a wide range of fans, in the biggest way possible.
Electropop superstars The Chainsmokers are one of the biggest acts in the world right now, with Billboard ranking them as the best dance artists in 2018. Having won a Grammy award, two American Music Awards, seven Billboard Music Awards and eight iHeartRadio Music Awards, they are the prime choice for electro pop fans.
As far as trance music goes, Above & Beyond have continued to make an impact on the genre over the last 20 years. Having won the coveted Essential Mix of the Year twice, maintained a spot in the DJ Mag Top 100 for 14 years and founded the seminal trance label Anjunabeats, they are a go-to act for many trance purists.
Psytrance is represented in a big way this year, with the legendary Infected Mushroom finally returning to the Mother City, as well as Israeli duo Vini Vici bringing their progressive sounds to the enthusiastic psy fans in Cape Town. Taking into consideration that Cape Town has one of the best psy scenes in the world—which has grown immensely in the last 10 years—it shows that Ultra are aware of the importance of this scene, and strive to bridge the gap between the many sonic pockets in the country.
Joining the mighty Black Coffee on the Resistance stage this year are some of SA’s finest house acts. Shimza, Culoe de Song, Ryan Murgatroyd, Da Capo, Themba and trail blazers Kususa make for one of the strongest supporting lineups for Black Coffee we have ever seen locally, not forgetting the locals who are dominating the dance music scene in SA. As impressive as this stage has been in recent years, we’re certain this year will the best ever for the Resistance.
While Cape Town enjoys two expertly curated stages, Johannesburg takes things to the next level, with grooves galore on the Samsung stage and banging hip hop on the Until Until stage—wrapping up an all-encompassing Ultra experience.
Ultra have opted for quality over quantity this year, while giving a nod to the current trends, local flag-bearers and legendary artists across the electronic dance music spectrum. As innovators in their own right, they are setting the tone for SA dance music in 2019.
Visit the Ultra website for more details.