This year’s Ultra Music Festival has been a mess. Friday night, hundreds of attendees walked across the bridge between Virginia Key and Miami after having difficulty getting a ride back on one of the festival’s 200 buses. Chaos erupted after a tree caught on fire, with some even calling it “Fyre Festival 2.” But earlier that afternoon, a new DJ took the stage before acts like Marshmello and Tiësto. With an air of familiarity, the masked DJ caused more than a little commotion in the Miami heat, in no small part due to the associations with his attire. His name was Colonel Sanders, and his set was the most egregious corporate stunt in recent memory.
Dressed in a string tie T-shirt and enormous bobble-headed costume, the DJ introduced his set with prerecorded banter designed to get the crowd moving. “Any of y’all hungry for some beats?” a voice shouted through the speakers. The audience seemed less than enthused.
The promotional stunt understandably garnered a few negative reactions on Twitter. Louis the Child called Ultra “a joke with corporate promotional nonsense,” while others like Alex Metric joked about the fact that the festival was basically selling its main stage as an advertising platform. “Ultra selling ad space on the EDM Main stage at one of the most commercial festivals feels like some horrendous logical conclusion to the direction that part of dance music has been heading in,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s not exactly Ronald McDonald at Berghain is it.”
Most directly implicated by the stunt was Marshmello, who in a since-deleted tweet, called the whole thing “lame.” “I can think of a lot of other artists that actually deserve to be on that stage instead,” he wrote on Twitter.
These days, almost every music festival is a crowded assortment of Mountain Dew stages and Sour Patch spare rooms, so it’s hard to really feel any genuine outrage about the incident. Whether they’re performing on the main stage or covertly footing the bills on tour, brands are not your friends.
Given the platform you have as a major electronic festival, it would be nice if you used it to showcase what electronic music is about and not make it seem like a joke with corporate promotional nonsense @ultra— louis (@LouisTheChild) March 30, 2019