Product placement got real. No this is not an April Fool's joke.
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) had a big hand (and head) at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami over the weekend, but guests and DJs were not extending their southern hospitality to the Colonel after he took to the music deck and played a near five-minute sample set.
The performance was teased a few days before on the restaurant's Twitter feed: "One thing a lot of people don’t know about me is that I have been a huge fan of electronic music for the last few days, and I can’t wait to show off the DJ skills I’ve developed in that time. SEE ME LIVE AT ULTRA on 3/29!"
As promised the deck was handed over to the kawaii-headed chicken franchise icon during a show break. No other musicians would have been playing anyway, but that still didn't stop headliners from criticizing the move.
In the video, you can clearly see spectators trying to get into the groove, but the majority seem confused.
Alison Wonderland said of the Colonel's act: "this made me feel so awkward watching :/// wtf is this cringe. Ur right. There are some of the most amazing up and coming artists who should be seen and who deserve to be seen. Yuk."
We talked to DJ, producer, and legendary Thunderpuss remixer Barry Harris about his thoughts on the blatancy of such product placement. He said he thought it was a joke at first.
"Obviously, 99.5% of the crowd weren't 'buying it' either," he told us. "I think it looks like the idea really flopped. Then again from KFC's perspective, there's no such thing as bad publicity. Which IMO is all this was 'a publicity stunt'. On the other hand, it DOES look bad on the EDM scene that Ultra even let this happen. If this becomes more commonplace 'selling out' then ya, put on your crash helmets and get ready for a huge backlash and demise of EDM culture as it was e.g. the Disco era. - Just MHO and 2 cents."
But there was at least one DJ who thought the whole thing was a bit humorous. DJ Mateo Sagade who is based in Southern California says the culture may have just experienced its first truly bold photobomb.
"I can’t help but kind of enjoy when the otherwise murky commercialism of the EDM festival circuit smacks its attendees in the face," he said. "Artistically speaking, it looks like it wasn’t really a DJ set -- but rather a track that he played with some KFC samples? Basically it appears to just have been a commerical break. KFC did do a good job of poking fun at Deadmaus and Marshmello with the helmet though."
Segade is quick to point out festivals like Ultra are sometimes entry points for people who will go on to enjoy more genuine festival experiences.
"A lot of kids first attend festivals like these as their first raves," he said, "and yes they can be a bit gauche as in this instance, but if it leads them to discover perhaps more authentic events, in the end, its finger lickin’ good."
Despite the KFC controversy, Ultra Music Festival began the weekend on a bad note anyway when on Friday, transportation problems caused guests to be stranded for two hours both downtown and at the festival where they reportedly waited for shuttle service to pick them up.
Officials apologized for the inconvenience saying they were going to fix the issue.