The 2022 festival lineup ushered in the divine return of many of music’s greatest and most lost acts, and I’m not just referring to Hardwell’s groundbreaking return after announcing his retirement years ago, but also to new starts from seemingly elusive acts such as Madeon and Pendule.
As the opening of what we can only assume will be an insane festival season draws to a close, here’s a breakdown of some of Ultra 2022’s best moments and sets from acts and surprise appearances.
I know it’s a few days late but I finally got a chance to listen to all the sets after a long drive to MIami Ohio today. Here they are. (And thanks to my guy Caleb for the help)
10. Snake DJ
While there wasn’t much new to this DJ Snake set, it remained business as usual. So if you’re a fan of the old Snake sets, this will be right up your alley.
9. David Guetta
Despite being a veteran of the space, Guetta never fails to bring festival-goers a set filled with modern remixes of dance music classics to give listeners a fresh perspective on the producer’s massive back catalog. Guetta’s set, while dull and cheesy at times, earns its place on this list due to its sheer nostalgia (who doesn’t like an intro with an exclusive Titanium remix).
Tiesto’s set kicked off with some of his most recent EDM hits, while the mix can be questionable at times. Tiesto seems to want to leave viewers with no doubt that he is still alive in the scene and adapting. It’s a LOT of slap house, slap house and more slap house. But for fans of Tiesto and what he means to the dance music community, it’s a refreshing taste of the past and present of one of music’s greatest producers.
Alesso, like many of those artists who have been in hiding for the past couple of years, seemed to return to Ultra with a vengeance. A fresh perspective on some of his more pop tracks shines throughout this set as the future/tech-house space begins to increasingly dominate the performances and styles of these star DJs.
6. Jauz & NGHTMRE B2B
Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit. From start to finish, bangers and bravado. Whoever came up with the idea of having two of the most dangerous bass heads play together deserves a massive raise. This goes down as one of the best heavy sets I’ve ever heard. Brilliant.
5. Armin Van Buuren
Armin is one of the pioneers of modern dance music; Needless to say, he continues to show it. It’s a performance that I’m honestly jealous that I missed. Every sound is big, every synth is bigger, every melody is haunting. A perfect blend of genre-bending festival anthems. Armin wouldn’t let off the gas all the time. So good that they booked it twice for the weekend, not only on the main stage, but also on the ASOT stage.
4. Amelie Lens
Amélie’s techno set was overwhelming. Although the Belgian DJ is a relatively unknown figure in the American EDM scene, that hasn’t stopped her from delivering an electric techno set for the masses. Amélie Lens also seems to be a member of the certified bad guys camp.
Hardwell’s return was highly anticipated (and leaked extensively) but was nonetheless a spine-chilling arrival. While 2014’s EDM festival was what (I guess) many were expecting (and perhaps a cheesy performance), Hardwell showed up and showed off, with bigger sounds, tons of IDs, and a world tour announcement. This performance is not to be missed for anyone new or old to the scene. Well done and welcome back Hardwell.
2. Martin Garrix
Although he may have started his career as a teenage prodigy, Martin Garrix is here to stay and in style. Introducing various new identities and featuring anthems from past festivals was the name of the game for Martin’s Ultra set.
Globally. Surprising. Singers and live performances, dubstep, heartbreaking lyrics, dizzying melodies… Illenium delivered them all without hesitation. This young performer not only came onto the scene with a fresh take on EDM in his early days, but went on to be an innovator one step ahead of the industry. A stellar performance and a set I would have killed to witness in person. Especially for Jon Belion and “Good Things Fall Apart” at the end. (One of the best songs to come out in a long time).
(Bonus) Swedish House Mafia album tease and 2023 headliner announcement.
h/t to man Caleb