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Ultra Music Festival

Beyond Bass Drops: 10 Non-EDM Artists Not to Miss at Ultra Fest

Forget laptops and turntables, these rappers, rockers and more will bring the live energy at the Miami Fest

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Death to Laptops

Getty Images, 3


Annnnnnnnnnd... repeat. Sure, EDM has risen from illegal warehouse raves to conquer the charts and cover Rolling Stone magazine, but there's still no denying it: EDM's sound can be distilled to a few overused laptop effects and bass drops. And after 16 hours on your feet dancing in the hot sun to similar-sounding music, any fan will drop harder than the bass in a Skrillex track. But not at 2013's Ultra Fest. Nuh-uh, no siree!

The lineup goes beyond EDM's heavy hitters. There's an artist for all moods and styles. Ready to whisk away that hottie and slow down the mood? Ultra has the solution. Wanna prove to your pals that your musical taste knows no bounds? Ultra is here. Need a chill nap-sesh in the grass to charge your batteries? You get the idea. Ultra's got you covered, bros and bras, and Fuse has your non-EDM itinerary down to T. 

Here are the 10 artists of the non-EDM persuasion the you can't miss at Miami's Ultra Fest. And get this: some even play real instruments! So what are you waiting for? Click "Nxt" already! 

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Azealia Banks

One of this year's most promising (and most controversial) MCs, Harlem's Azealia Banks frequently works electro blips and synths into her unique brand of hip hop, which makes her presence at Ultra a good fit. If you wanna take a break from the dancefloor but aren't ready to wind down, Banks is your go-to girl. 

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Major Lazer

A Major Lazer performance isn't a "show"; it's a massive party. And while fans won't be able to see raucous frontman Skerritt Bwoy anymore—dude went to Antigua, found God and swore off his "evil" past—the frenetically dancing, ass-shaking women and confetti guns onstage should make up for his absence nicely.

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Snoop Dogg

Sure, Snoop has Loose Joints, his venture and nod towards EDM under the name DJ Snoopadelic, including a Boyz Noize collabo “Got It.” But it's his 20-year-long catalogue of G-funk rap hits and his new reggae tracks as Snoop Lion that make his a must-see set. 

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Matt & Kim

Famous for their DIY music videos, Brooklyn indie duo Matt & Kim's upbeat keys-and-drums sound and fun-lovin' punk attitude that will undoubtedly keep the party going. Their latest tracks, including “It’s Alright” (above), bring a dance-y electro sensibility to their feet-shuffling sound. Related: These two never stop smiling.  

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Icona Pop

If you don't love Icona Pop's "I Love It," then you haven't heard it yet. The Charli XCX-assisted track reached the Top 10 on charts around the world, and Rolling Stone named it one of the best 50 tracks of 2012. How'd you miss it?

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The Weeknd

Tired and sweaty from all the dancing in the Miami heat? Well, check out Toronto's the Weeknd, who will turn down the BPM but certainly cranky up the sexy-steamy factor. His ethereal R&B slow jams are like a wet, narcotized smooch. 

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Sleigh Bells

Brooklyn's lo-fi indie-rawk duo are perhaps the only act in music to successfully blend the mellow hip hop head nod and the hardcore punk head bang. Guitarist Derek Miller, an alum of hardcore band Poison the Well, brings the grating, distorted riffs that double as a punch to the face, while singer Alexis Krauss, a former school teacher, giddily coos and skips, crawls and dances onstage. Benaneth all that: trunk-rattling bass and beats. It's an unlikely marriage, but it works and some.

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Crystal Castles

She may be a sickly, waifish 24-year-old girl, but Alice Glass, singer for Toronto's goth electro-pop duo Crystal Castles, could win a bar fight with Stone Cold Steve Austin with just her icy stare and shrill scream. Their synth- and beat-driven music is aggressive and chilling like Nine Inch Nails, but twice as atmospheric and frightening, as Glass stalks the stage in her dark eye-liner and angular black 'do, smoke billowing and strobes flashing. This is a horror movie incarnate--and the soundtrack is fantastic.

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With their debut album All Hour Cymbals this Brooklyn quartet were minted as indie rock's new psychedelic experimenters. Then, with its follow-up Our Blood, they penetrated dance circles (and the Billboard Top 200) with their breakout hit "Ambling Alp," a jittery, synth-warbling trip of self reliance. The LP was reportedly inspired by the band's visit to New Zealand, where they all took LSD. Fitting, considering it sounds like a paisley'd dance party in Mordor. Their third release, Fragrant World, continues the otherworldly tradition.

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Hot Chip

Like the nerd who was laughed off the dance floor, the schlubby, bespectacled Brits of Grammy-nominated London outfit Hot Chip got their revenge by crafting indie electro jams with a marriage of vintage synths, '70s-esque guitar rhythms and everyman vocal prowess. YOU CANNOT DENY THEIR BODY-MOVING INFECTIOUSNESS. "Are you ready / Are you ready for the floor?" Alexis Taylor sings on that eponymous track. Oh, you better be. 

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