Electric atmosphere for Day 2 of Ultra Singapore music festival, after organisers fix first-day woes

A view of the main stage at the inaugural edition of Ultra Singapore on Day 2 (Sept 11).
A view of the main stage at the inaugural edition of Ultra Singapore on Day 2 (Sept 11). PHOTO: RUDGR
A view of the main stage at the inaugural edition of Ultra Singapore on Day 2 (Sept 11).
A view of the main stage at the inaugural edition of Ultra Singapore on Day 2 (Sept 11). PHOTO: RUDGR
A view of the main stage at the inaugural edition of Ultra Singapore on Day 2 (Sept 11).
A view of the main stage at the inaugural edition of Ultra Singapore on Day 2 (Sept 11). PHOTO: RUKES

A dreamy, chilled-out tropical house set by Norwegian producer Kygo, electronic dance music's (EDM) biggest name at the moment, proved to be the highlight of the inaugural edition of Ultra Singapore, held over the weekend.

Despite day one's shortcomings, mainly crushing queues inside and outside the venue, Ultra Singapore's executive producers Alex Chew and Raj Datwani - both new to holding a full-fledged, two-day EDM festival - managed to turn things around quickly overnight, and make day two a standout.

The festival, a spin-off of the famous Ultra Miami, was held at an untested venue: an open field next to Marina Bay Sands Tower 1.

Kicking off at noon on both days, the first day was an extremely muddy affair following a downpour earlier on Saturday morning. Long lines to get into the venue, and queues lasting one or two hours at food and drink stalls on the grounds, plagued partygoers all day, with more than a few looking dehydrated and faint.

Even the "U" sign on the colossal main stage, a focal point of all Ultra stages around the world, disappointingly did not seem to be working.

But the second day was a sea change with improvements on all fronts including quickly moving queues, stage problems properly fixed, and an electric atmosphere at the festival.

Responding to overwhelming fan feedback on day one, the organisers indicated in a statement on the Ultra Singapore Facebook page on Sunday morning that they "made certain logistical changes in order to deliver the best possible second day of Ultra Singapore".

This was manifested on day two with more staff on hand to direct crowds; five more satellite bars handling cash-only purchases of water and beer that were added to the initial 16 food and beverage outlets; and generally happier customers.

One of them was Mr Ian Goh, 20, who had purchased his tickets to Ultra Singapore nine months ago even before the line-up was announced. While he had queued up to an hour and a half for drinks on Saturday, and ended up missing half of Dutch electronic duo W&W, he was able to buy drinks almost immediately on Sunday.

Though he wishes more big-name acts such as American duo Chainsmokers and Dutch wunderkind Martin Garrix were in the line-up, he is already making plans for other Ultra festivals, now that he has experienced his first in Singapore.

"I became a fan of Ultra after watching YouTube videos of Ultra Miami. After this one, I plan to head there," he says.

A total of 45,000 party-goers attended the festival over two days, according to the organisers, who had earlier been expecting 20,000 visitors for each day. All online tickets were sold out by Thursday and there were only limited general admission tickets, ranging from $155 to $256, available at the door.

Almost 50 international and regional acts were featured across three stages - Main Stage, Live Stage and Resistance Stage - on the 30,000 sq m parcel of land at Bayfront Avenue near Marina Bay Sands.

Parisian DJ Snake brought the house down on Saturday, putting on a 75-minute high-energy set at 8pm with a barrage of banger after banger, including plenty of new material from his debut album Encore. Despite being released only last month, the new hits, including his Justin Bieber collaboration Let Me Love You, got the crowd singing along to his music.

Sunday saw back-to-back power-packed sets on the main stage by EDM's hottest names including masked DJ and producer Marshmello, trap specialist DJ Carnage as well as the person most punters had come out to see, Kygo.

Playing in Singapore for the first time on Sunday, also his 25th birthday, Kygo lit up his stellar sunset set with smash hits such as Stole The Show and Firestone. Other than debuting an unreleased original track titled Carry On, the crowd also sang him Happy Birthday at the end of his performance.

Hours before the gates opened on Sunday, it was announced that one half of Swedish DJ duo Axwell & Ingrosso, Sebastian Ingrosso, had pulled out "due to an ear infection". But Axwell did not seem to miss his partner, throwing down an epic closing set with the best visuals, pyrotechnics and confetti showers of the night.

The smaller stages also hosted standout acts. At the Resistance Stage, which featured a superb sound system and great lights set-up, techno doyenne Nicole Moudaber held court during the closing set of day one.

At the Live Stage, mysterious American-Chinese singer and producer Zhu, who was joined by a guitarist and saxophonist, proved that his material sounds even better live, even though the volume at the stage could have been turned down a tad.

Both days of Ultra Singapore ended on time at 10.30pm, with party-goers seen leaving the venue still on a high.

Capitalising on the groundwork laid down by its EDM festival predecessors such as the 16-year-old ZoukOut - a two-day, dusk-to-dawn festival - Ultra Singapore as a daytime festival has added diversity to the dance music scene that seems to be thriving in Singapore.

In an earlier interview with The Straits Times, executive producer Alex Chew, who has worked on Ultra Singapore for two years, said that he intends to run Ultra here for "a long time more".

anjalir@sph.com.sg