Baxter’s Grand Night Out: Getting Extra at Ultra


Images | Gideon Felix
Words | Sean Baxter Thomson

This past weekend, the Ostrich Ranch once again played host to Ultra Music Festival South Africa. I was hesitant, to say the least. This would be my first Ultra, and while I am no stranger to a ‘bush doof’ or three, the stories of ‘mega-boets’, pickpockets, and gridlocked traffic were a slight turn off for me… but hey; Infected Mushroom, Vini Vici, Martin Garrix, The Chainsmokers and a host of South Africa’s best local artists… ‘Nuff said!

Car packed and ready to go! We hit the road for Ultra, well, we hit the traffic… a lot of traffic. Fortunately, we left early enough, missing the worst of it and making it quickly through the ticket queue to catch the last 20 minutes of Infected Mushroom. What a start to the night.

Vini Vici took the stage as the sun was setting. Queue the lights and fireworks! Opening with “United – Armin van Buuren x Vini Vici x Alok feat. Zafrir” the dance floor was now a frenzy of ‘Israeli Prog’ trance.

Ultra South Africa flags waving, arms swaying and mass foot stomping. Night time chaos was officially kicking off so the lady and I took the opportunity to gather our bearings and explore the rest of the festival grounds.

My first observation was the bar.  There was a lot of it, which meant no missing any stage action while waiting for a drink. The VIP area on the side seemed awkward, with a massive space between the railing and the Main Stage crowd, it seemed that people were dancing there out of sheer principle more than anything. (Maybe the drinks and food was worth it though).  A stacked food-court lined the way to the Resistance stage where SA’s Finest, Black Coffee, would later be headlining alongside a host of local favourites providing the Cape Town audience with a homegrown lineup. With a massive second bar and a pretty impressive setup, the Resistance stage alone could easily have held its own against other Cape Town festivals.

Making our way back to the Main Stage to catch the start of Martin Garrix – sure we were there for Animals (standard!). We passed the Budweiser bar, which was kitted with a cherry picker to lift up groups of boets and babes for their ultra Ultra selfie moments – this was a great idea.  That line was way too long, so instead, we headed up onto the lookout deck to scope out the sheer size of the crowd. By now the smoke, lasers and pyrotechnics were kicking off.  For a first time ‘Ultra booi’, this was truly organized chaos, but in the best possible way.

Popping onto the scene in 2014, they released their single “#Selfie”, The Chainsmokers have seriously come a long way.  These dudes were the reason I decided to give Ultra a chance. Starting off with the coolest intro-remix of Sick Boy, The Chainsmokers took the stage.  Dropping tracks like “Don’t Let Me Down ft. Daya” and rad mashups with some filthy drops and live fire drums – literally; the drummer set his sticks alight during a solo! This set was pure energy.  I have never seen EDM artists own a stage like that. The absolute highlight of my night.

Leaving Ultra was an absolute shitshow. Too many cars, single lane exit way and zero parking marshals to help the situation.  After what was probably an hour in bumper to bumper traffic, the lady and I decided to pull off in the parking lot and grab a power nap while the rest of the cars cleared. Despite only getting into bed at 6 am, attending Ultra was the best decision ever.

This was my first Ultra.  Not perfect, but a ridiculous amount of fun. I’ll definitely be back.

MyCityByNight rating: 7.8/10

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