SINGAPORE -Tributes to the late Swedish DJ Avicii marked the third edition of Ultra Singapore, the outdoor dance music festival held on June 15 and 16.
Avicii, whose real name was Tim Bergling, committed suicide at age 28 in April. He was a stalwart of the electronic dance music (EDM) world and DJs such as fellow Swede Steve Angello, Frenchman DJ Snake and Dutchman Nicky Romero were among those who celebrated his music.
Romero played an unreleased song that he revealed Avicii had sent him right before his death. "Think of Avicii," he said before playing Heaven, an anthemic, soaring track featuring vocals by Coldplay frontman Chris Martin.
Everyone present held up their lit-up phones in unison. It was a poignant moment in a high-energy but emptier edition of Ultra Singapore.
Held over the Hari Raya weekend, the crowd at Ultra Park, located at the open field next to Marina Bay Sands Hotel tower 1, was noticeably sparser than in previous years.
According to organisers, 41,000 attended this year's edition over both days. There were 45,000 attendees last year and 50,000 for the inaugural festival in 2016.
Many of the main stage acts were repeats from previous years. Nicky Romero and Steve Angello played last year, while Above & Beyond, Afrojack and DJ Snake played in 2016.
Perhaps the EDM world has hit saturation point, with the same few acts being recycled for dance music festival line-ups all over the world. But it did not seem to matter to the crowds who showed up in full force anyway to see some of the biggest names in the dance music world.
Despite this being his third time playing at a music festival in Singapore, and the muddy grounds from rain earlier in the day, DJ Snake's set seemed to draw the most partygoers on day 1 (June 15).
He has the Midas touch when it comes to bangers and he ran through the gamut of his greatest hits including Lean On, A Different Way and Let Me Love You. But he also served up plenty of fresh music, including his latest trap-heavy collaboration with Dutch duo Yellow Claw called Public Enemy, and the infectious, irresistible party track Magenta Riddim.
He might have spent more time dancing on the DJ console than behind them, but his magnetic presence and ability to deftly weave in and out of juddering trap/bass numbers and floor-filling party tracks proved just why he remains a big draw.
The spectacular main stage - the best-designed one so far - played host to the big, commercial names with all the bells and whistles of pyrotechnics, confetti showers and lasers.
Meanwhile, the smaller stages, namely Worldwide and Resistance, featured a far more eclectic mix of acts from the world of trap and bass, trance and deep house.
Last year's Live Stage was replaced with the arched Worldwide Stage, which is modelled after the stage of the same name at Ultra Miami, home base for the global line-up of Ultra Music festivals. While it did not quite mirror the curved screens and immersive sound and light experience that the original is known for, acts such as Singapore's Myrne and American RL Grime kept things interesting by blurring the lines between big-room EDM and hard-hitting trap-influenced beats.
Myrne's day one evening set even threw in cheeky, unexpected numbers such Boulevard Of Broken Dreams by American punk rockers Green Day. He also brought out special guest and fellow Singaporean singer Gentle Bones for a live version of shimmery electropop number JU1Y.
Perhaps a good thing that came out of the lower attendance was more space to dance - whether one was at the front barricade at the main stage, among the deep-house and techno lovers at the Resistance stage, or among the mixed bag of revellers at the Worldwide stage.