The biggest threat facing Ultra in Central Park was the weather, dark, dark skies rolled overhead threatening to dispatch thunderbolts and raindrops on those below. But by some divine miracle the heavens didn't open and the event remained dry. Pity God only saved one miracle for us tonight. You see, it was aparent from the look on Timo Mass's face when I arrived that something was amiss. The German master spinner wasn't moving around the decks with his usual enthusiasm and a few stage hands were busy running around the stage plugging and unplugging various wires. Then it hit you, an eerie lack of sound, there was no thumping bass to get the crowd going, not by the main stage. Although Timo struggled on and the stage hands worked feverishly his set was pretty much a write off due to the technical difficulties encountered. It was a pity because Timo has always been a highlight of every festival I've seen him play at.
Next up was the Scottish lad Mylo and his boys for a much anticipated live performance, which was due to start at 5:55. Well the poor boys stood around for the next 30 minutes while the stage folks tried to get the instruments set up, it wasn't happening but fair play to the lads they started playing but things weren't going to plan especially as the bassist kicked his monitor in disgust. The band couldn't hear what was coming out of their instruments and much to their own obvious dissapointment and to the gathered fans they simply had to call it a day.
I headed tentward as the sound was being repaired for Paul Oakenfolds arrival. There were two tents set up for the event, The Ultra Tent featuring powerhouses Danny Tenaglia and Erik Morillo and the smaller NYC Tent featuring a slew lesser know but well respected artists. Well the Ultra sound people definetly got the speakers set up right in the tents but the music failed to offer relief from the merciless heat inside. While the NYC Tent was bareable, the jam packed Ultra Tent was like an oven, breathing was difficult, dancing was impossible. I stopped by a few more times over the course of the event but really couldn't physically stand to be in there for more than a few minutes at a time.
So Oakenfold came on. Now as somebody who isn't a big fan of said DJ I can still appreciate most of the tracks he plays and it was by all means an excellent set, depending on where you stood. Yes the sound was playing havoc once again, people to the right of the stage were treated to a horrible hissing sound while the people on the left side could hear perfectly untill half way through when the speakers went and the volume plummeted. The highlight of the set was "Southern Sun" simply because as far as I could tell it was the only time that all the speakers seemed to be functioning. The dissapointment continued.
Right about now you can probably tell that I wasn't having very much fun at Ultra, you wouldn't be far off. Maybe I was just used to the slick professionalism of European events like Creamfields, Global gathering, gatecrasher and basically every event ever organised by Radio 1 but I could see by many of the other attendies that I wasn't alone. My misery was compounded when told by a prick of a security gaurd that we couldn't sit on a piece of wall to the right of the stage, when I asked him why he replied "Cause I said so" with an arrogant smirk. lets just say that had there not been a couple of cops standing nearby he would have been have been shuffling home with half a central park picnic table stuffed up his rear. I was baffled by how useless and rude most of the staff hired for Ultra were, the poor guys and girls at the Willcall desk were run ragged and understaffed while others inside ambled around doing nothing for the duration of the show.
Ultra New York was in need of a second act of divine intervention to prevent it for being a disaster.
Well, while I'm not too sure about their divinity the Chemical Brothers were sure capeable of performing miracles and they helped Ultry.NY pull off an escape Houdini would have been proud of. This was the headline act, you could tell so by the set up of the lights and equipment, the Brothers performance was planned to blow us away and sear good time memories into our heads till Miami next spring. One block still needed to fall into place, the sound. It did. Finally the place was alive the speakers were firing the crowd was jumping at 8:40 pm more than 4 hours after it began the first Ultra Music fest in New York came to life.
Tom 'n' Ed from the University of Manchester probably came off stage tonight not knowing the blushes they saved the organisers, because without them the event would have been a write off.
The clubgoers of New York needed Ultra, sure we have many great clubs in the city but the real pulse of the dance music community is the Summer festival circut. Central Park can't be beat for it's location but it really isn't up to handling an event of this type. Festivals belong to huge fields in the middle of nowhere with no neighbours to annoy and more than one portapotty for every 400 people. The organisers have a lot to learn from this event and a lot to make up for next year. And hopefully there will be a next year.
On a final note, never before in my life have I been exposed to so much horrific body odour. Where in the hell did these people come from and why have they not showered all summer? Maybe it should have rained some of those slobs might have learned about the wonderous cleansing power of H2O. Next time anyone with dreadlocks or teenage moustaches should be hosed down by the New york Fire Department before being allowed in or at least doused with Fabreeze and Desenex.