Ultra good Road

Nicky Romero, one of the superstar DJs who headlined Road To Ultra.
Nicky Romero, one of the superstar DJs who headlined Road To Ultra. PHOTO: COLOSSAL

It has been quite a year for Road To Ultra, the ingenious expansion idea by brands Ultra and Ultra Worldwide behind giant Miami-based electronic music festival Ultra.

Bringing the experience to ravers around the world through one- night-only events, Road To Ultra, which features top DJs who play at the three-day American festival, has expanded to countries as diverse as Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

Also making its debut this year was Road To Ultra Singapore, held at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre last Saturday.

Headlined by electronic dance music (EDM) superstar DJs Alesso, Skrillex and Nicky Romero, the event was supposed to be a prelude to a full-blown Ultra Music Festival to be held here in coming years.

Despite the big ticket names, the night belonged to underdogs such as relative newcomers Mija and Ansolo - the stage name of The Fault In Our Stars actor Ansel Elgort.



    Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre /Last Saturday

Blue-haired Mija (who has opened for Skrillex during his tour) played a fantastic early set despite the lukewarm audience, mixing in crowd favourites such as Rihanna's B**** Better Have My Money.

Ansolo transitioned between tracks seamlessly and threw in great remixes such as Latch by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith.

Still, it is hard not to give due credit to the giants, particularly Alesso and Skrillex, who showed why they are some of the best paid EDM DJs in the world.

Alesso's set was arguably the most packed, with some of the attendees quite literally trying to elbow their way to the front to get a closer vantage point.

Closing act Skrillex was also an Energizer bunny - running around the stage, jumping on top of the DJ booth and getting the crowd to follow his every instruction.

In between the bursts of confetti, the synchronised lighting and the crazy pyrotechnics, the thousands who thronged the floor did everything from waving their hands to screaming according to Skrillex's numerous requests.

And, as expected, he closed the event at 4am with his recent Justin Bieber and Diplo smash hit collaboration, Where Are U Now. The audience reciprocated by dancing so hard that the ground literally felt like it was vibrating.

Overall, it was evident that the event was a definite hit for EDM fans here and the region, considering how many die-hard fans flew here to see their favourite DJs play.

About 11,000 people attended the event. And though the turnout was impressive, one wonders whether the organisers shot themselves in the foot by having the event on the same weekend as the F1 Grand Prix.

Despite being well organised - everyone wore a Radio Frequency Identification Tag that could be topped up to allow them to buy food, drink and merchandise - the enormous venue never seemed completely full, with many leaving the premises to take a breather outside while waiting for their favourite DJs to come on.

Many also seemed to come to the event only after attending the races or other F1 parties, diluting the strength of the crowds and putting a slight dampener on what was supposed to be a crazy EDM rave.

It is hard to tell therefore whether Road To Ultra Singapore did enough to warrant it to be the next destination outside of Miami for the full-blown, three-day Ultra Music Festival.

But, for local fans, it was undoubtedly an excellent night - a taste of the quintessential EDM mantra: eat, sleep, rave, repeat.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2015, with the headline 'Ultra good Road'. Print Edition | Subscribe