“Come on, let’s be honest now. Who’s actually managed to get any Ski-ing in?” Kasabian, Forest Stage, Friday
Last week (April 1-6th ) Saw the 2013 installment of Snowbombing: the original and biggest in the now growing market of snow (or now termed ‘Spring’) festivals. The concept was simple enough: In place of a beach, grassy field (/marsh) or city square, a festival is created by inviting 5,000 people to Austria’s Mayrhofen ski resort on the last week of available snow and replacing Austrian mixed family saunas with equally modern Live performances including Kasabian > Disclosure , Rudimental as well as offering a Gold Package of Tech House Hire with Carl Cox , Seth Troxler and Maceo Plex and others. With London Spring shaping up like a scene from Dickens, Music-News stole their flatmate’s ski-jacket, made a mental note to buy gloves at the airport, purchased fake travel insurance from SureWe’llBringAHelicopter™ and headed out.
Mayrhofen as the venue for a festival is a perfect hybrid of suspended reality and Bavarian efficiency. Aside from bars on, off, up and down the slopes, the four key venues in the town are spread roughly along the main street, beginning at the bottom of the resort with the big-room Racket Club the light-tastic Arena , the confused teenager of a London Bridge techno venue and an apres Bar that is Bruck N Stadl and the unashamedly resort club Schlussel. ‘Bombing then beefs this up with two utterly gamechanging sites: the Barclaycard Arctic Disco: a stage, an outdoor ice bar and an igloo with a DJ booth at the top of a cable car, some 6,000 feet up that featured events timed at sunset most days, and the fairy-tale like Forest Party, a stage set deep in the Alpine woods.
Good question The second thing that becomes immediately obvious about Snowbombing, somewhere between missing early breakfasts and being pointed and laughed at by ski instructors ”You didn’t come here to ski, huh? Try to keep your mouth closed, less snow gets in when you fall” is those coming here for a week of smashing (snow) powder and improving their performance round turns are probably in the wrong mindset. The vibe on the slopes -which were rarely that busy before 1 - was one of Ski-To-Contextualise-Apres-Ski.
The reason behind all this: Snowbombing nights were utterly glorious. Maybe it was the altitude. Maybe it was the pleasant surprise that Jager and beer were actually pretty reasonably priced, but Music-News suspects it lay in the combination of brilliant showmanship and incredible setting that made this one of the best events MN’s visited to date. Here are the highlights of what we saw:
Seth Troxler & Maceo Plex @ Bruck N Stadl
Wednesday night saw Detroit raised Troxler play a shattering set combining his signature mixture of sinister and silly. With a crowd holding up signs and bouncing out of sync with Seth’s own unicorn-like fro, the now Berlin-based talent was more frenetic than he’s been of late, flipping between the decks and the crate behind him during a vinyl only set - with focus kept firmly on the turntables whilst all around him the atmosphere was religious: clubbers touched his hands, bouncers patted him, event photographers dropped lenses to hug it out with a Troxler who by the end was bouncing at a frighteningly sweaty rate. Midnight Intensity in the Main Room. Maceo Plex then moved on and continued on with a heavier, slick pounding set, with the venue running on til past 6.
Norman Jay @ Reggae Bar
Parked conveniently at the meeting point of several red runs and two freestyle parks, those too hungover to face another spate of controlled falling down the mountain found a welcome soundtrack to their hangover on Thursday afternoon with Norman Jay - complete with Notting Hill Soundsytem. Playing on a similar theme as he had at the Arctic Disco on the Wednesday evening, Jay proceeded to roll out strings of classic tunes, leading up to the mid-2000s heady sounds of Axwell & Fred Falke. Combined with a Austrian hot dog (wow, they really get those right) and a few drinks at several thousand feet - pounding heads melt away famously. Ski-ing down later presents entertainment in itself however.
Kasabian @ Barclaycard Arctic Disco
The lead headline act of the line up, Kasabian played a packed Forest Stage on Friday evening but for those lucky enough to secure a ticket, the famously friendly group also played a far smaller, accoustic gig at the Barclaycard Arctic Disco stage at the top of the mountains. Guests were given wristbands pre-loaded with €20 credit and taken on a 15 minute cable car up forested slopes before arriving at a stage overlooking a 360 horizon of mountain peaks, with outside bar and a roaring fire to keep non-dancers warm. Whilst Kasabian, by virtue of their jeans and hoodies, had a slightly different take on the vibe of the venue “What is wrong with you people? There’s plenty of bars down there. Why’d you drag us up a mountain to play? First time I’ve been backstage and asked for a mulled wine...” The group then pulled off a fantastic set of releases old and new complete with some party covers. The event was rounded off by fireworks in a clear night sky. Cheesy? Possibly. Magnificent? Yep.
Rudimental @ Forest Party
Thursday night had seen the D’n’B live act smash a rammed Racket Club thanks in part to an MC who took crowd-baiting to a new level (“Cut the music. Right. We’re not starting again until half the room are on the other half the room’s shoulders” ), Rudimental took the Forest Party stage before Kasabian on Friday for another epic set. Walking the long road up to a dense forest, Music-News came upon the crowd, wrapped by a heavy mist lying among the trees, punctured on all sides by beams of white and purple light. Rudimental emerged from the undergrowth played a fantastically soulful, vocal set, covering current hits, classical covers and upcoming releases to an entranced crowd.
Disclosure @ Racket Club
Midnight at Snowbombing’s biggest venue on the last day of the event and the crowd at Racket club is divided: a border round the room of the Won’t Drinks, The Can’t Drinks, and the Where Are We’s whilst a tight core of buttoned shirts and white trainers packed the middle, occasionally groups meeting and dissolving into shuffle dancing. Disclosure meanwhile retained a relaxed composure, addressing the crowd every few tracks and throwing consistent amounts of garagey, housey, it’s-the-last-night-ey shoulder bounce sound.
Snowbombing breeds loyalty. Many we encountered had been coming for years. It’s a UK heavy festival, and the vibe is grown up, but grown up in all the right ways: we’d put the average age at 26, 27, and the entire event had a generally relaxed, non-imposed, let’s-just-head-out ‘til 5am feel to it.
A Coup. A ski event with incredible, world-class apres-ski, and very little ski-ski. If you go ski-ing to smash blacks, don’t. If you go ski-ing to smash bars, absolutely do.