Last Friday, October the 14th and Saturday, October the 15th, the marvelous city of Rio de Janeiro had a generous dose of extra heat spread over it, emerging from the iconic ‘Sambódromo’ (famously known as the home of Rio’s annual carnival) where the highly anticipated first edition of Ultra Brazil took place. Over 60,000 fans headed to the north of the city for what turned out to be one of the undisputed highlights of South-American electronic calendar of 2016.
Ultra’s arising concept ‘Resistance’ was also in full force across both days of the festival. Pioneered by Ultra Worldwide in 2015, it’s no surprise it has fast become known for producing unique experiences around the world. Tale of Us, Hot Since 82, Art Department, Matthias Tanzmann, Anna and more provided the entertainment on Day One, before the reigns were handed to the one and only Carl Cox, who welcomed Nic Fanciulli, Nicole Moudaber, Steve Lawler, Matador, Pan-Pot, Jon Rundell and more for another infamous Carl Cox & Friends gathering.
In its second year of life, Resistance proved to be a mighty solid brand and wisely understood there’s something big going on in Brazil at the moment. With avant-garde producers consistently delivering conceptual electronic music, such as BLANCAh, ANNA, Elekfantz, Renato Ratier and others, and it’s biggest record companies releasing dedicated labels, like ‘Austro Music’ by Som Livre, with no one less than Gui Boratto as one of the main men, you knew there was something different manifesting in the country’s musical culture.
Although none of the DJ’s lined up for this massive stage were new to the game, it’s always incredible to testify their extreme professionalism. It’s no coincidence they are where they are. That was very clear when you saw each and every one of them sharing a mutual concern of properly paving the way to the next colleague, sort of approaching what they thought would be a closer fit to the next one’s usual sound in the final minutes of the set. That made the transitions much smoother, and had the crowd properly conducted through an unforgettable night of musical madness. They proved once more, to be masters of technique as much as selection.
Resistance’s visual programming was a spectacle alone. It was not difficult to find yourself paralyzed with all the brightness coming from the exquisite stage’s LEDs and strobe lights. Sound equipment was, of course, up to it. Crystal clear quality and rampant capacity provided the audience with everything they needed to enjoy every detail of each track.
In the first minutes of Friday night we found ANNA, the Brazilian Techno exponent who had just been handled the turntables and it was a pleasant surprise. Not that we did not expect big things from her. She has all the credentials to generate big expectations but yet, she managed to exceed them.
Having received a properly warmed up crowd after consistent acts by Rod B, Renato Ratier and Elio Riso, she helped lead the crowd to bliss, with a living presence on stage, plenty of attitude, delivering a set of punchy and full of swing Techno.
Matthias Tanzman, during his performance, proved once more to be a guy you’d definitely want to be learning from, if you are to deliver a consistent tech-house act. Right in the first minutes, he teared the roof off with the banger from Andrea Oliva ‘Scream’ out on Knee Deep In Sound, the label of Hot Since 82 who would play later on that stage.
It was amazing to see how the German sustained energy levels so high. Hi-hats ran high during almost the entire set, shifting up the gears and accelerating the pace. In the final minutes, he went from faster tempo music to heavier punch sounds, properly conducting the dancefloor and setting the mood for the next act. Safe to say he smashed it!
Canadian legend, Art Department, introduced his set with heavier sounds. Thumping basslines, hard hitting drums, skipping hi-hats and trippy synth melodies. At some point, you could distinguish the famous vocals of his track ‘Catch You by Surprise’, accordingly played in &Me’s Terrace Dub version, sustaining the stronger punches. He surely brought in a much darker atmosphere over the home of samba.
Hot Since 82 started out with pounding beats, sustaining a bit longer the kind of sound with which he was handled the dancefloor with. Then, moving on to something a bit faster and groovy, the way you’re used to see him playing. He made it so, so groovy afterwards, energy levels went so high you could probably supply the city of Rio de Janeiro by one week with all the energy coming from people dancing at Resistance Stage! The UK DJ never disappoints.
By the time you thought Friday was over, you had the Italian duo Tale of Us throw us back into an even darker atmosphere that took over the stage once more, attesting that Resistance is seriously committed to providing unforgettable experiences.
On the second day, we found an even more crowded Resistance area. No surprise, considering the massive success of the previous night and the incredible team lined up ahead, closing with the legend Carl Cox.
We found the Irish man Matador showing no mercy and unleashing loads of high energy over the dancefloor, with, as you could expect, the most forceful side of techno. After the extremely successful release of his album ‘Ructions’ on Rukus, he seemed to have brought a formula to perfectly fit Brazilian current underground preferences.
Then, the German duo Pan Pot came in. They made it with great style, with a breath-taking intro slowly fading into the recent banger ‘Amsterdam’ by Joe Blake & Alberto Ruiz that came out last Monday on Dynamo Recordings. A Hot tune to say the least, the crowd went nuts! The audience was hungry for ‘hi-hat’ seasoned techno and the duo properly fed them.
The visual programming of the stage, during their set, conveniently referred to a star ship sailing at the speed of light. In the late minutes of the set, no relief was shown. Punch was kept strong as they introduced the trippy synth melodies, characteristic of their sonority.
With some creepy sounds, and a dark atmosphere, they started hastening the pace in order to gently pass the baton to Steve Lawler. The UK DJ attracted an extra contingent of people to witness his performance and they surely were not disappointed as Lawler masterfully covered many different shades of House. He kept it fast paced from the beginning and eased the punch a little bit to deliver something more ‘housey’, as it’s characteristic from the man.
Needless to the Viva Music boss killed! He sent everybody to outer space with the thunderous tune ‘High AF’ by Vibe Killers in the Jhonsson Remix and in the final minutes, he approached the borders of Techno again, thickening the drums.
Nicole Moudaber brought something a little lighter, but very trippy and kept things a bit ‘housy’ as well in the beginning, strengthening the punch afterwards. You could feel a hazy and gloomy atmosphere emerging in the stage… With her usual messed up hair, the lady, full of attitude, showed to be in a great mood to set fire to the dancefloor. Another techno lady to cause a blast!
With the great responsibility to set terrain for the legend Carl Cox, Nic Fanciulli, of course, nailed it. He accelerated things again and a climax, you had him dropping ‘Scream’ from Andrea Oliva again on that stage, setting fire to it once more, proving the track to be one the biggest underground hits of 2016.
After a couple minutes of silence, you heard a familiar voice on the microphone shout ‘Oh Yes, Oh Yes, Brazil!’
The atmosphere for Carl Cox was fantastic, and it couldn’t be different. The stage area was crowded as no moment before in the two days. It was a killer, vigorous Techno set. He explored darker terrains and sturdy basslines, consolidating the whole Resistance musical concept with the mastery of the legend he is. We can find no better word to describe it than epic!
What was seen in these two days of Resistance madness, was a crowd hungry for cutting edge dance music and alternative sonorities. Brazilian audience is definitely much more mature and certainly is in a higher level of preferences. They were brightly attended in their demand by some of the finest House and Techno acts on the planet, being guided through a trippy journey. Resistance was warm, heated by solid beats and a techno energy to certainly make Mr. Carl Cox proud.
Words by Gabriel Gonzalez