Review: Ultra Japan 2017

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(photo by Rukes via Ultra Japan)

Your favorite EDM reporter, Alex Kil, is back to tell you all about his weekend! The last of the Asia Ultra festivals has come to an end just as the summer heat begins to settle down. This past weekend from September 16-18, the flashing lights and lasers of Ultra Japan 2017 lit up the Odaiba night sky as the air vibrated to some the year’s most bangin’ beats. Those within the festival grounds raged with excitement while those outside watched from afar hoping to go next year. While I have had some prior Tokyo EDM experiences, Ultra Japan was my first EDM festival experience in Asia and it was quite a unique one.

As per the Ultra brand name that is synonymous with satisfaction, Ultra Japan hosted an amazing lineup of established, up-and-coming, and local Japanese DJs. With names like The Chainsmokers, Steve Aoki, Nicky Romero, Kygo, Tiesto, Alesso, Hardwell, Underworld, Pendulum, and Empire of the Sun performing across 4 unique stages on the Odaiba waterfront which is overlooked by the giant Gundam statue, attendees would be hard pressed to ask for a better experience or location.

Excited to see what the festival scene was like in Japan, I arrived to Odaiba Ultra Park and was welcomed by other excited attendees equipped with the usual gear from their favorite DJs, but what was pleasantly surprising was the diversity and creativity among the custom outfits attendees wore. Among the most unique were the custom yukatas, or traditional japanese robes, that people created just to wear at Ultra. And while we here at EDM LA know our followers love our pictures of DJs and general excitement, I took a different approach this time by focusing on the unique fashion that Ultra Japan attendees prepared for what is likely the largest EDM festival in Japan. I took a ton of pics of beautiful people and outfits, so please take your time to check them out HERE.

Similar to Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Ultra Japan hosted many different attractions aside from the music. With art installations in the Ultra Park, presented by sportswear brand Onitsuka Tiger, a makeup area presented by Dazz Shop, and dozens of food and beverage vendors, attendees had plenty to do before, after, and in-between DJ sets. And compared to my experiences at American music festivals, the cost of alcoholic beverages was quite affordable with everything being about $5.

Unfortunately a typhoon was passing over the island nation as Ultra Japan 2017 was beginning. Despite the gloomy weather, Ultra fans and I did not let it stop us from enjoying artists like Japanese favorite Mitomi Tokoto and his beautiful Cyber Japan Dancers, Sam Feldt, Deorro, and Nicky Romero at the Main Stage. And to cap the night, I drifted over to the Live Stage to see Porter Robinson‘s live set. Despite the rain, as you can see in the picture above, Porter Robinson drew an extremely large crowd to the Live Stage. Even after experiencing all three days of Ultra Japan, Porter’s set was definitely the most memorable and energetic. While I was not able to attend his Shelter tour with Madeon last year, I imagine it was a bit like his set at Ultra Japan where he played his hits such as “Divinity,” “Sad Machine,”  and “Shelter” to which the entire crowd seemed to know the lyrics. I distinctly remembered as his set ended, the entire crowd held their breath hoping for just one more song and screen filled with Porter’s famous anime and video game-style graphics.

When Day 2 rolled along, the weather had become even worse with a heavy shower throughout the day. And while artists such as Slushii and Knife Party made it bearable for a while, with dirty trap and hip hop mixes that got the Main Stage crowd hype, I decided to head home early and prepare my body for Day 3. This was unfortunate as I missed The Chainsmokers who are one of my favorite DJ duos and completely killed it this year at Ultra Japan.

Fortunately on Day 3, the weather was perfect as the typhoon had passed. The sun and heat provided a perfect setting for tons of pictures of the beautiful people that attended Ultra Japan. The weather was also perfect for turning up with all of my friends and other attendees on the Odaiba waterfront. I once again stayed at the Main Stage the majority of the final day, being blessed with the opportunity to experience Getter, Rezz, Kygo,  Steve Aoki, and Tiesto. While Getter brought that dirty California sound, Kygo blessed the crowd with his many hits and fabulous remixes, Steve Aoki with his world famous sound and crowd interaction, Tiesto provided the last few dance bangers which marked the bittersweet end to the once year mega event. The only disappointment to be had on Day 3 was when Steve Aoki announced he had only prepared 10 cakes, as every attendee hoped to be caked.

While I’m sure major festivals around the world share many similarities, Ultra Japan was very different than that of the majors I have attended in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Miami. The people, clothing, and vibe was such a unique experience and one of the reasons why I love experience EDM outside of my hometown, yet the music is a universal language that allows people to enjoy together and communicate despite their backgrounds.

I want to thank Ultra Music Festival and Ultra Japan for allowing me the opportunity to cover this wonderful event and hope to attend and photograph other Ultra festivals in the future.

Check back at EDMLA for more updates on my EDM abroad experiences.

Keep up with all the latest Ultra festival and Ultra Japan announcements at https://ultramusicfestival.com/ and https://ultrajapan.com/

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USC student by day, edm and hip hop ninja by night

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