This year’s edition of Ultra Taiwan allowed attendees to explore the vibrant fusion of global dance music and local culture.
Ultra has been bringing its renowned festival to Taiwan since 2014, first as Road to Ultra and then rebranding to Ultra Taiwan during the pandemic. In its third installment, the festival has become a beacon of international talent in Taiwan—a place not typically inundated with global dance music stars.
Stepping into Dajia Riverside Park, with Taipei’s skyline forming a majestic backdrop, I felt a rush of anticipation. The park melded nature’s tranquility with urban vibrancy, creating an idyllic setting for a festival that promised to be unforgettable. The weather played along perfectly—clear skies and pleasant temperatures setting the stage. There’s something magical about a gentle breeze from the river during a festival; it’s refreshing, almost cleansing.
Having attended every Ultra Taiwan since 2020, I’ve come to expect a unique blend of US rave culture and Taipei’s underground scene. Taipei’s underground scene is notably small and quite hidden, especially for house music. With techno and future rave-style genres being more popular, it’s rare to find music under 128 BPM. That’s what makes international events like Ultra so special – they bring popular artists and introduce Taiwan to the current trends in the global dance music scene. The efforts to push Taiwan into more current trends are palpable, and a future stage curation by the underground scene would be a welcome addition.
The sound systems at Ultra are always fantastic and what you’d expect from the global powerhouse. Despite being a smaller festival with four stages, there was minimal sound bleed, and the quality of the sound was impeccable. It’s nice to hear music on a festival-quality sound system, which is otherwise hard to find in Taiwan. The lighting, visuals, and fireworks were on point, creating an immersive experience. The riverside venue was comfortable, with places to sit and a light, airy atmosphere. I really enjoy the view of the Grand Hotel in the background of the RESISTANCE stage.
On the first day, Innellea reminded me how much I enjoy discovering new artists.
Innellea’s set was an unexpected journey that enthralled me, setting an intense, energetic tone for the event and becoming my highlight of day one. Every song he played was new to me, flowing seamlessly and leaving me eager to explore his style of techno further. Despite trying to Shazam a few tracks, I couldn’t find any matches.
KSHMR’s performance was a narrative unfolding before my eyes, his storytelling through music and an accompanying story on screen demonstrating why he’s revered as a producer. Though not entirely my style, I appreciated the artistry in his narrative-driven set. Anfisa Letyago, though I only caught a brief part of her set, delivered a burst of energy that was utterly contagious.
The day reached its zenith with David Guetta, who created a visual and auditory spectacle. His set was a blend of classics and new hits, elevated by striking visuals on a large screen, creating a mesmerizing effect, especially during the moment captured in the photo above, where the smoke on the screen and in the air intertwined.
The second day of Ultra Taiwan brought a diverse array of sounds.
Mathame’s set was another highlight for me. Their techno beats weaved a spellbinding narrative that showcased why they’re at the forefront of the Afterlife scene. Fisher surprised me with an eclectic mix of tech house and techno, even dropping Chris Lake’s unreleased remix of “Rumble.” His set was high energy and reflected his adaptability and genuine enjoyment on stage. He played to a crowd unfamiliar with house or tech house, and I appreciate him adapting to those who caught his set. Adam Beyer closed the night with a nostalgic and invigorating set, keeping the crowd, myself included, on an adrenaline high.
While I couldn’t experience every artist over the course of the weekend, the performances of W&W, Massano, and Timmy Trumpet, along with local talents like RayRay and international favorites like Gryffin, added to the festival’s eclectic energy. Each brought a unique flair, contributing to the rich tapestry of Ultra Taiwan.
My tastes in music have evolved over the years, and this festival felt like a reflection of that.
This year’s edition of Ultra Taiwan was more than a festival; it was a personal journey through the world of dance music, exceeding my expectations in every way. The event flawlessly merged global and local sounds, creating a melting pot of cultures and music styles that resonated deeply with everyone present.
As the festival drew to a close, it left me with more than just memories of spectacular performances. I found myself imbued with a renewed connection to the dance music community and a deep appreciation for the unique cultural blend that only Ultra Taiwan offers. Every artist, with their distinct style, contributed to this enriching experience, making me look forward with great anticipation to what the next edition will bring.
Another aspect that made Ultra Taiwan stand out was the opportunity to connect with both old and new friends. It was a delightful surprise to see friends from the USA who had traveled specifically for the festival, underscoring its growing appeal on a global scale. The festival’s setting at Dajia Riverside Park, with its gentle riverside breeze and tranquil nature juxtaposed against the urban vibrancy, added to the overall magical atmosphere.
The meticulous organization of the festival was on point, with every detail thoughtfully curated to enhance our experience. From the impeccable sound systems to the vibrant visual displays and the tantalizing array of food, everything was fantastic. This attention to detail is one of the many reasons why Ultra Taiwan remains one of my favorite festivals.
Looking ahead, Ultra Miami is set to take place on March 22-24, 2024, including headliners KSHMR, David Guetta, and Adam Beyer. Meanwhile, Ultra Taiwan will return in December 2024, promising another edition filled with groundbreaking performances and unforgettable moments. These events continue to highlight Ultra’s commitment to bringing global dance music to every corner of the world, and I am eagerly awaiting what they have in store for us next.