Grapevine Online caught up with the founder of RVR16, Amol Raval, who has been part of the Official Ultra team since more than a few years now. He has been travelling to dance music events since 5 years and has covered such major festivals as Tomorrowland, EDC, Sunburn Goa among many others. Amol tells us about his Ultra Miami experience through the following stunning pictures and shares a memory behind each captured moment. Get ready to be enchanted!
- The Giant Arcadia Spider
The Resistance stage in 2015 proved to be a huge success as it made it to 5 more Ultra editions across the globe. I was expecting something more intense and big, but the Arcadia Spider blew our minds out. Production group Arcadia unveiled the giant 360 degree interactive spider stage which played host to the undeground genre under the ‘Resistance’ brand concept curated by the guys at Ultra. I remember when we went for a reki a day before the event and had our first look at the stage, the production crew were testing all sorts of experiments out. The pyro fire would blow out so intense that we could actually feel the ground shaking. Performing dancers hung from the arms of the spider added up to the entire 360 experience. Arguably one of the best stages this year. I took this picture during the Arcadia show that used to take place around 8:30PM daily. Different vibe. Amazing vibe.
- Vivid Main Stage Design
Ultra have set the bar in terms of festival production and what has been more than a novelty each year is the vivid main stage design. Richard Milstein, the man responsible for the mainstage design along with his entire crew delivered which was probably the best ever mainstage at Ultra after the 2013 Vortex. They called it ‘The Pulsar’ this year and it had far more depth than previous years. This photograph shows how the stage can be a visual artists dream with so many LEDs and countless amount of production mapped to it. Not to mention, Armin Van Buuren closing his set on Day1 when I took this picture.
- DJ Snake
DJ Snake is definitely in my top 5 list of artists who’s set I would never miss at any festival. I could care less on what people comment if he makes his own music or someone else does. The fact is, as I have witnessed 6 of his shows in the past 18 months standing right next to him while I’m working on either photos or filming him, is that the guy can really perform. He is super animated and a dream artist to work with for any photographer. I like it when artists respect the entire film/production crew and DJ Snake is surely one of them. He has his own crew of 2-3 people who shoot, coupled with us official Ultra crew; but we all manage to figure our spaces and timings just about right, because we know he is easy to go when it comes to working around him. I think I’m going to frame this picture I took on Day 1.
- High intensity green lasers
High intensity green lasers. Impossible to count them. 1 guy. Eric Prydz.
Day 3 at the Megastructure was a fest. Deadmau5, Armin Van Buuren, Andrew Rayel and more. But like last year, the megastructure was packed way till the outside, almost touching up with the crowd of the worldwide stage. Eric Prydz has time and time again managed to draw his faithful wherever he plays. I love this photo because I used a monopod expanded into 3 sets to make sure that I get a shot of the crowd from above and the lasers as well. To be honest, it was a bit of a risk as the lasers were swarming just 5-6 feet above my camera at the top. A one time contact with my camera sensor and we’re talking about 1000$ in damages. But as we do it everytime, the risk is well worth it, and it got me this shot!
- The Fireworks
The chopper shots are normally assigned to Rutger (RUDGR.com) in most of the festivals so it’s not easy for me to always get aerial top shots. There was no chopper this year though and on Day 2, luckily I managed to make it to the 39th floor of the apartment right opposite the venue a Mexican friend of mine’s owned. Rutger came along with me and we had the most epic of views. Avicii was playing that time. (Check his photos out on www.rudgr.com) This photograph comes across as one of the best ever for me considering the recent announcement made by Avicii that 2016 would be his last run of tours. When he played ‘The Nights’ and the fireworks came out, I grabbed this shot amid goosebumps that we all could not subdue. It’s the music Tim bergling has given us over years that makes him so special. Moments like those when I felt like I’m on top of the world.
- Breathtaking Venue
I also managed to get the entire width of the venue in one frame with this shot. Particularly at the same time as the shot before, maybe a few minutes later. All I could do was gaze at how beautiful it looked from up there and I’m so sure to go back to that spot next year.
- The Worldwide Stage
The Worldwide stage at Ultra had some of my favorite artists. The huge arch always looks amazing when captured from either side. This photo was taken on Day 2 when the ChainSmokers were playing. Ultra is always awesome because every stage is packed no matter which headliner plays on the mainstage at the same time.
- ALEX & CHRIS
Alex & Chris. Holy lord. I was supposed to cover 20 minutes of their set and ended staying up there for 50 minutes on Day 2. I’m definately not one of those campers but with the amount of production, the amount of times they jumped from the console and the variations they had in their entire set was irresistable for any photographer. After Alex & Chris gulped down an entire bottle of Tequilla, I witnessed yet another mesmeric energetic performance from the duo. Love this photo as it sums up their entire set in one picture – total carnage.
- The Ultra Angels
My Instagram (@ravalamol) post for this picture reads: ‘Miami was hot, but the Ultra Angels were even more hot.’ Katie manages the entire Ultra Angels team of beautiful women. Never an easy task. The weather was super super hot considering we had light scattered showers followed by sunshine that caused even more humidity. Final Kid and his crew were shooting the girls for the aftermovie. I had a slot of 5 minutes in between where I took this shot which is now a perfect poster picture. Don’t think I need more to explain. Just keep drooling. Perks of working with Ultra.
- The Galantis ‘Jump’
An Ultra mainstage debut for Galantis couldn’t have been better than this. Sublime set with some live instruments. I guess the Swedes have a secret formula for always being good with their music. Highly animated and super interactive with the camera crew. I got this shot during their second jump out of the 4 they made together. After Slander/Marshmello, I’d rate this as the 2nd or 3rd best set of Ultra for me. And yes, I’ve always wanted this photo.
- Pendulum Reunion
The epic Ultra finale on Day 3. Knife Party + Pendulum. We all know Rob Swire hates cameras around. None of us except RUKES were allowed on stage and respectively so. Ultra was sold out this year quite early and I feel the announcement of Pendulum reuniting for this show was a pivotal factor. After Knife Party played a 30 minute set, forces were joined and I witnessed Pendulum play live. A spectacular laser show with a lot of pyro, I managed to capture this photo with all of them in one frame. Quite a closing shot I’d say.
- Intense Artists & Crazy Set
Rick Ross + Rae Sremmurd + Mike Will + Wiz Khalifa + Jermaine Dupri + Adam Russakoff + Marshmello + DJ Khaled + Purple + DJ Snake = ?
CARNAGE. Literally and also by his name. I have to admit, I’ve witnessed the most intense and crazy set ever on Day 3 at Ultra. Carnage played around the evening when it started raining a bit but that didn’t stop the high profile guests coming to for guest appearances during his set. I’ve never seen the mainstage so packed and never ever seen the Console area so packed. Yoder (known for his ridiculously amazing videos) was shooting Carnage with his crew, there were a total of 6-7 photographers/videographers + guests up there and I somehow managed to survive and get plenty of amazing shots. This photo has most of the guests in one frame however I’ll be releasing all my photos of the entire set soon too.
At the end of it, Rutger asked me how I managed to survive up there and I had no option but to play my Desi cards “I’ve managed to get on a local train in rush hour in Mumbai, so this was peanuts“.
- The Wonderboy – Martin Garrix
The wonder boy of the modern electronic dance music era, Martin Garrix played countless IDs. We all know he always has mass production during his set so it made sense for me to stay in the front of house and the pit to get the best of photos. I got this picture towards the end of his set when the confetti blew. It’s always a beautiful site to see so many people appreciate a mercurial talent and capture it all in one go. Another one to frame for me soon!
- The Epic Pulsar Mainstage
I often take loads of behind the scenes images to make sure my album is different. What goes on the mainstage at Ultra is remarkable considering the amount of people who work simultaneously in making sure everything is alright. This photo was taken from the back platform on the mainstage when Afrojack was playing on Day 2. I chose this in my top list as it encapsulates everything in one photo – production, photographers, videographers, stage managers, production crew and the interiors of the epic Pulsar mainstage.
- The Deadmau5 Aura
You can’t complete your list if you leave the MVP of the festival out. Deadmau5 was arguably the MVP of the festival. He filled in for the absence of The Prodigy on the LIVE Stage as they could not make it due to health issues. He played at the Megastructure on Day 3 and also made a guest appearance during the finale with Pendulum which is when I got this photo taken. To all that we love him, hate him or whatever we feel, the man has his own aura and can pull away crowds from other stages for sure.
- DJ Snake with Marshmello
Marshmello has been making giant strides in the industry, especially North America. With an almost packed tour schedule till December, this mystery man (which many people think is DotCom) played the most entertaining set aligned with some hilarious visuals on the worldwide stage on day 3. DJ Snake jumped in as a guest with him too which is when a dozen of us photographers jumped in for the perfect shot.