Snowball Music Festival in a Nutshell
You wouldn't think that a festival in the very cold Rocky Mountains at the end of winter would really work. It is all snowy, the temperature is below freezing, and the ground is icy enough to slip on. But, for some reason it works well-really, really well. There is just something about it that is hard to pin point. The one thing I can say is that good music will weigh out any circumstance and Snowball Music Festival is the succession of this idea. The third annual Snowball was thrown in the valley of Winter Park, Colorado on March 8-10, 2013 and it was beyond successful. As I stated, good music will weigh out any circumstance and that means people can still get hot and heavy even if you're outside during the winter time. Snowball Music Festival was 3 days of pure mayhem. It included our favorite EDM acts as well as hip-hop, jam, and indie acts in 3 different tents, plus a silent disco tent. It was a pleasant mix of sweet sounds all the way to raging face.
So, what was the lay out of this place? Considering the past years in Avon, Colorado-right next to Beaver Creek-it was a much better set up. It felt a little bit smaller so it made the event more intimate, which I heard was a major plus side from the fans. When you walk in the merchandise booth and the Ballroom tent to your left and the first bar and food trucks to your right. Straight ahead is the heated bar that is strategically place in the middle of the festival, which is easily accessible from all 3 tents. The heated bar was a great idea because since it was so cold people wanted to sit and relax in there, which meant they would be quicker to buy drinks-it was a win, win for everyone. To the right of the heated bar was the Groove tent and this is where our favorite acts like Krewella, Datsik, Destructo, and more played at. To the left of the heated bar was the main stage, the Snowball stage, where headliners like Big Gigantic, Pretty Lights, and STS9 played. Continuing straight ahead from the heated bar was the independent merchandise booths were, which held the DanceSafe, Grassroots, and Spirit Hood booths. To the left of the independent merchandise booths was the Big Air ski ramp right next to the Snowball stage. Lastly, the press and VIP tent was to the left of the Snowball stage. On this side it was nice because they had heat lamps all around this area so you could enjoy the music could be enjoyed outside, as it should be. Hoping that this gives you the full feel of this extravagant snowy event I'll finally be getting into what happened day by day.
Day 1 was the absolute craziest for my partner in crime and I. A friend of mine is the tour manager for Zion I-a hip-hop group from Oakland-and they needed a ride to the festival and back because the festival was leaving transportation up to the artist. We figured no one else would do it so we volunteered. We picked up Zion I around 1 P.M. and headed to the festival, which was about 2 hours from the airport. Everyone was antsy because they aren't used to Colorado weather and heard that a big snowstorm was coming, which they weren't physically prepared for. Anyways, we arrive at the festival in between 3-4 P.M. and head right in. Zion I was our first act to see because they went on at 5 P.M. in the Groove tent. DJ/Producer of the group, AmpLive, kicks off the evening with a 10-15 minute mix of hip-hop and trap tunes and then the group-Zumbi and the back up MC-heads to the stage to finish it off. I love hip-hop but I don't typically care for live hip-hop shows but I can vouch for these guys to say that they sound the exact same as they do on their albums.
Feeling pretty pumped about the vibe of the festival so far we head to the Snowball stage where Porter Robinson was spinning. He was spinning everyone's favorite tunes and then some. His energy was high and everything felt almost right. But, there was something eerie about the sound. It sounded like the treble was way too high during his set and it left my ears ringing for a couple of hours. I think it was the sound engineers problem because we all know that Porter Robinson likes to keep it really bassy. So, we headed back to the Groove tent to meet up with Zion I again and went to their VIP trailer to catch a breather. We really didn't get much time to breathe because Kris, Rain Man, from Krewella was on the other side of the trailer asking us if we wanted to take some pulls from his Jameson whiskey bottle, which of course we did! Who couldn't pass up a drink with one of the members of Krewella? We chatted with him for about 10 minutes and all I can say is that this guy is really chill and friendly-and nothing beats a successful artist acting like just a normal being (because they are). Then we rolled with Zion I to the press tent where a quirky game show interview was taking place-it was fun to watch.
Noticing that time was moving by way too fast we bounced to the Groove tent to check out Krewella's set. It was a complete nightmare making it up to the front to snap some photos because it was so jammed pack in there. Finally making it to the front we go crazy with snapping as many photos as we can. The energy was so high for Krewella's set. I think it was because most of the Snowballers' finally made it to the event and they were really craving some banging EDM tunes. The fans asked and Krewella served it on a silver platter. Krewella gave the best vibe out of all Snowball days-they were happy, spunky, and raging face with everybody else. Then, it was time to head to the Snowball stage to catch Colorado mega local's Big Gigantic. Dominic and Jeremy were so thrilled to be headlining Snowball Music Festival and it definitely showed. They couldn't wipe their smiles off their faces when they played everyone's favorite tracks. It was hot, sexy, dubby, and super jazzy-just how the Colorado scene kids like it. Their visuals made it a more physically and mentally stimulating show that left everyone leaving with big fat grins on their faces. I got a chance to interview them through email and I urge you to check it out here. We left the festival with Zion I to go to their after party being extremely exhausted. When they finished up around 1:30 A.M. it was snowing so our very long journey back down to Denver began. It really wasn't as bad as it seems because I got to talk with AmpLive and Zumbi the whole back about the EDM scene and it left me more pumped and stimulated about the electronic music industry than I ever have been. We said our goodbyes and went to sleep around 4:30 A.M. Snowball day 1 was a complete success-I was thrilled!
Feeling completely exhausted from the first day it was hard to get up and start moving around again. Not to mention is was snowing cats and dogs everywhere in Colorado and that sometimes makes a person a little bit more lazy that usual. There is such thing as getting photography sores, you know! This day was a BIG day for me because I had to prepare for my Datsik interview later that evening. So, I arrived around 5 P.M. with the mentality of not having too many drinks to keep warm before that interview. We headed straight to the Groove tent knowing that EDM was going to be played. There was this guy called Gigamesh spinning when we made it into the tent. It was hard to make it to the front because the stomped on snow from the other day froze over because of the below freezing temps, which made it dangerously slippery. I had never heard of Gigamesh before and the best way I can describe his music is being the ultimate hipster sound of electronica. It was whimsical and MGMT-like. The Diluzional go-go's were dancing during his set and they helped the crowd know how to get down to this odd rhythm. Next up was T-E-E-D, also known as Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, which was very complimentary to Gigamesh's music. The music T-E-E-D was playing had the hipster feel but was more on the funky house side of things with some electro sounds in it. The Snowball crowd really liked this guy because of the classic sounds he was playing-it is always refreshing to move away from dubstep for a set or two. House music lives on and T-E-E-D along with some other Snowball DJ's proved that.
T-E-E-D finished his set and Datsik was going to go on in 30 minutes. The Groove tent was getting jammed packed during this breather-Colorado sure loves their dubstep and Datsik so everyone was making sure they found their place within the tent or outside of it. Datsik takes the stage at 8:30 P.M. the crowd roars with excitement. The photographers and myself get ready and start snapping continuously because this kind of excitement is something that has to be captured. They brought out the L.E.D. panel for Datsik's set to give it a more visually stimulating vibe. It got so hot so fast in Groove tent that Datsik had to take off his coat-only wearing a t-shirt-and I was seeing girls on top of shoulders in tank tops everywhere. Datsik played a range of dubstep, trap, minimal trap, and songs that are in an unidentifiable genre. The energy was so high it was like a Bassnectar show, if not better, and the energy didn't drop until Datsik was over and done with his set. It was really an incredible sight to see and feel-I felt like I was so high just from the crowds' extreme excitement.
I decided it would be best to leave 10 minutes before he ended to get to the press room and get ready and WOW
was it difficult to get out of that tent. It was such a madhouse in the Groove tent and was so packed that it was nearly impossible getting out of it-my feet weren't even touching the ground at some points because I was sandwiched in between people. After getting out of the sardined packed tent I had to stand for a moment and take a deep breathe because it was super overwhelming. I finally make it to the Snowcial press tent and wait for Datsik to arrive so I can give him his interview. He arrives around 10:30 P.M. and we get straight to business. I tell him off the record that all we are going to be talking about is music and the scene since I was still feeling excited about the chat I had with the members of Zion I the night before. We talked for a little over 6 minutes and all I can say is wow-this guy is the real deal. Troy is so incredibly down to earth and is quite easy to talk to. We talked about his music, what genre he classifies himself as, what his inspiration is, and more. I think all you Elektro readers will really enjoy what he has to say and you can check it out here.
Pretty Lights was playing all throughout the Datsik interview and it was hard to not get up and dance. Pretty Lights is another mega local Colorado musician that has made it to the big time-he even has his own satellite radio hour on Electric Area! There is a certain equation of Colorado kids plus the music they listen to and the style of clothes they wear-which equals out to be Pretty Lights music. Pretty Lights is the exact definition of Colorado music and local scene. Derek sound has a certain kind of jammy feel to it with a dash of funky, house beats, and a little bit of dubstep. Pretty Lights was a perfect as the name sounds-pretty and banging all at the same time. Seeing the crowd dance around in the 0 degree temperature was exhilarating. Nothing can stop a Colorado kid from jamming out to their favorite music and Pretty Lights was more than appreciated. We ended up leaving before the end of his set-which we kind of regret-so we could rest up for the last day of Snowball Music Festival. Day 2 was accomplished with great hype and fun. Mission success!
I don't know if the people of Snowball set up day 3 to be the best music-wise. Maybe they knew people would be tired by the end of it and wanted to get everyone there or maybe it just happened that way. Probably unlike most Snowballers' I woke up feeling as refreshed as ever because I knew it was going to be a good day so I made sure to get my beauty rest. Shortly after waking up-which was later than usual because of Daylight Savings-we make our way back up to Winter Park and get there around 4 P.M. and just walked around to feel the place out one more time. We eventually headed into the Groove tent, which pretty much became our home by that point, to watch this guy named Aeroplane. Aeroplane's music was hipster-ish like the DJ Gigamesh from the night before but was more down-tempo funky. It was something unique that's for sure. Unfortunately, there weren't that many people at this time. I'm guessing it is because everyone got burnt out from raging so hard the night before. Nonetheless, I appreciated Aeroplane's set for what it was and decided to sally forth to the VIP tent to get warmed up before Destructo's set.
Destructo was supposed to go on at 5 P.M. but he didn't go on until about 5:30 P.M. The other photographers and I were getting really antsy because we could see him standing right there and we were ready to take our pictures! Destructo finally went on and it was mighty fine. I'm a huge fan of house and techno music and it is a shame that I don't hear it as much as I used to. With that said, I was absolutely thrilled to get to see him play since the last time I did was on the first Holy Ship. It was funky, sexy, spunky, and bouncy. Everyone in there was feeling the vibe just as well as I was. And, also unfortunately for Destructo there weren't as many people in the Groove tent that should have been because most people were still curing their hangovers by this time, which is sad because it was an incredible set. However, there were a whole lot more people at the end of his set and the energy picked up nicely after that, especially when “LA Funky” dropped. After Destructo's set ended I headed over to the Snowcial press tent to prepare for my interview with him. He arrives on time with a vodka soda in hand. The first thing I said off the record is how much of a fan I am of his and his company, HARD, and how I was on the inaugural Holy Ship! Escaping fan mode and getting down to business I give around an 8-minute interview that was just so special to me. Gary Richard's is one of the realest dudes I have talked to in a long time. We talked about his music, his production company, and the growth of the EDM industry over the years. He is so humbled because of his 20-year struggle to make it in this industry and he never wanted to stop because he loves it so much. It isn't about the money or the fame for him. It is all about the love. Please check out the interview I had with him here because it will open your eyes up so much.
After my interview with Destructo I met up with friends to watch the Robert Randolf band because they were pretty stoked about it. It isn't the kind of music Elektro is about but it was nice to see some really good live music before I got back to listening to heavy EDM. I mosey around for a little bit checking out everything like the shops and other tents. And before I knew it I had missed all of Flosstradamus set, I couldn't believe it! But, my partner saw it and captured bits and pieces of it and reported back to me that it was really good, heavy, and all the girls were bouncing their booties. While he was finishing up the Flosstradamus set at the Groove tent I was at the Snowball stage for Grizmatik, which consist of Elektro's freshman class artist Griz and Gramatik. Grizmatik played one of my most favorite sets of Snowball Music Festival and from what I hear I am definitely not the only one. Their music is something else-it is different and that is why I loved listening to it. It has the Pretty Lights feel to it but with my oomph-more electro, more dubstep, and pretty much a little bit more of everything. Grizmatik belonged at the main stage because they are a mix of all the genres Colorado kids love the most. Grizmatik finished with even more energy than when they started and that is one of the best signs an artist can get.
Since there was a 30 minute set break between Grizmatik to STS9 I decided to go visit the Ballroom tent for the first time because Crizzly was playing with Lil Flip. The Ballroom tent was the smallest out of all the stages and they mostly showcased local artist. But, for some reason they decided to put Crizzly there. Let's just say they should have been somewhere else because there were thousands of people outside of the tent and everyone was pushing aggressively to get somewhere where they can actually see. Crizzly and Lil Flip's set was everything I expected: straight up twerkin' music. The super bassy trap sounds with the southern rapper's slowed down voice really seemed to work more than well, it was like the perfect match. People were going absolutely bonkers. Signs were waving, girls were up on guys' shoulders, and I'm pretty sure I saw some flashes here and there. Let me remind you of something: it was ridiculously freezing and people were only wearing tank tops-that is when you know something is hot. I then remember I am at a festival and I need to head to the next act before the one I am seeing is over, no matter how much I am liking it.
Climbing through mud and slippery snow-ice I make it to the front of the Snowball stage where STS9 is about to take place. There are thousands upon thousands of people waiting for the big act. I'm pretty sure most of the people at Snowball bought their ticket because STS9 was going to be there because Colorado people can't get enough of their jammy livetronica. Basically, since they are so big here, STS9 plays about 6 times a year at 2 different periods-they have to have 3 nights in a row because it sells out fast and they are trying to make everyone happy. The final act of the entire festival finally came and everyone went absolutely nuts. It was just what I needed because I've been a STS9 fan for a really long time and I had taken 2, or so, years off from them and the reunion was nice. The lights were awe-inspiring because the whole festival was almost too over-stimulating with L.E.D. light panels and this was a nice change-it was oldschool yet comfortable. It felt like the old Tribe I knew and loved but with some new funky tunes mixed in there. The best thing about STS9 is that they had someone on their Twitter to post every single song they played exactly when they played it, which is the way of the jam band world. It was a bittersweet feeling when it came to the very end. Everyone was giving hugs all around and it really felt like a community. All good things have to come to an end at some point and it is sad but as Dr. Seuss once stated, “don't cry because it is over smile because it happened,” which I believe everybody in the festival life should embrace this statement.
For my partner and I, it wasn't quite over yet. We headed to the Mountain Lodge to check out my friend Josh Pollock's-of Euphonic Conceptions-after party. We got to catch Fisk's, an old friend of mine, set and I am so glad we did. Fisk has stayed true to the glitch-hop music and it was nice to revisit my past but in future form. It was dirty, grimey, laser-bassy, and most importantly: it was glitchy. The people that were there were going crazy. We then saw Destructo play again and it was a completely different set than the one he played at Snowball. It was down-tempo, a little techy, and super sexy. After his set was done, it was time for me to go and that was the very end of my Snowball weekend completely.
Snowball Music Festival was more than a success it was a revival. When I say revival I don't mean it for everyone because it was more personal than that but I do hope most people felt the same. I went to last year's Snowball and all I could say was “it's too cold,” “this isn't fun because I'm cold,” and “I don't care who is playing because I am freezing.” This year was completely different! Okay, I did say I was cold a lot of times BUT I said how much fun I was having a whole lot more. I truly didn't have that many high expectations for Snowball this year and it surprised me more because of that. Snowball Music Festival is meant for Colorado and Colorado people love it. As I heard, 10,000-12,000 people came this year-and for in the snow that is a big time accomplishment! My highlights of this past weekend are Krewella, Datsik, Grizmatik, Big Gigantic, Destructo, and T-E-E-D. The only lowlights were that I got chilly a couple of different times but in all reality that is a personal problem. After this past weekend, I am a believer in Snowball Music Festival and the movement they are trying to make. No matter what the conditions are good music will always pull through and that is something to note. Snowball is the true music lovers' festival. Thank you Snowball Music Festival. I had a blast and I hope there will be another one next year!
For more information on Snowball Music Festival visit www.snowballmusicfestival.com
Photos By: Stacy Morrow & Zachary Egan