SNOWBALL MUSIC FESTIVAL @ VAIL VALLEY | 3/3/12 (DAY 2)
Having survived the frigid first night, the sunshine and above-freezing temps of the second day are a treat. Feeling a little wear and tear from the night before, I was hoping to make it back to the festival grounds in time to catch Sauna play early in the Ballroom tent. A leisurely breakfast conspired against my planned punctuality, but I managed to catch their last tune, a properly rocking rendition of "Glitter Party."
I headed in the direction of the Groove Tent in order to check out some dubstep courtesy of Figure, but wound up seeing Pierce Fulton, who was warming up the crowd with a well-orchestrated set spanning a variety of dance styles. Figure didn't take the stage until almost 45 minutes after his set was supposed to begin, but when he did, his presence was felt immediately -- a bass heavy adaptation of a haunted house ride.
Fulton droped a new cut, "Werewolf," as well as a massive take on Danny Elfman's "Beetlejuice" theme, and a dark, codeine-inflected remix of the theme from Halloween, including a nasty vocal sample screaming "Michael Myers is fucking dead," over the top of a severely slowed down piano sample from the film's score. The highlight, however, was definitely his remix of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which had the surprisingly rage-ready crowd (considering it was only 2 p.m.) all pogo-ing and fist pumping.
All the stages seemed to be running behind schedule during the afternoon. After watching the first few songs by Break Science and Jurassic 5's Chali2Na (which were awesome), I headed over to the Heat Hut to catch Pictureplane's set. But, upon arrival, there was still fifteen to twenty minutes of Cassian's throbbing hard house set.
One of the hot trends in creative self-expression I noticed among festival goers was the dance staff -- or whatever you might call the decorated poles people were carrying around. Among the best of the day: A twelve to fifteen foot staff wrapped in blue xmas lights and capped with a skull featuring a multi-colored mohawk; a broom handle topped with a Lord of the Flies-esque impaled Bullwinkle the moose head and decorated with orange glow sticks; a teddy bear in 18th Century garb strapped to a ten-plus foot pole and carried by someone in a tri-corner hat (suggesting a French Revolution theme of sorts); and a kid carrying around a blown up photo cardboard cut out of some other kid's face.
After a break for dinner, I made my way over to the TV on the Radio main stage set, which rocked a lot harder than I expected. Given the ever-present cold and the threat of ambient noise from other stages, the band largely avoided slower, more introspective songs and upped the tempo and the volume on some of their heavier tunes.
Their set was followed by the feel good jamboree conducted by master of ceremonies Snoop Dogg, one of the most unflappably cool human beings on the face of the earth. His stage presence is crazy. He doesn't need to shout or jump around. I doubt his heart rate ever surpasses 65 beats per minute. He just stands there and runs it. Who doesn't like Snoop? "Even my mom likes Snoop Dogg," a girl tells her friend in passing.
It was a good day, but there was no way I could've mustered the gusto necessary to conquer one of the after parties. Besides there was some writing to do. In the hotel lobby, using the wireless to post a review, there was a stream of party goers returning from various points of festival-related fun.
As I was writing, the security guards were chilling on the couch, watching TV and swapping war stories about past gigs working club security. "I have twelve years of tae kwon do," says one. "Those guys were drunk. They said they were gonna kill me. I told them they better shoot me before I got to them." Just then, the receptionist came up to them and quietly said something about "the crying guy on the second floor."
"Again?" said the guard. "That sucks for him. Okay. I'll get him out of here."
-- Patrick Rodgers
Britt Chester's take on Day 2 is on Page 2.
As if I hadn't learned my lesson from day one, the soggy skate shoes got pulled out again and lugged me around for another nine hours at SnowBall Music Festival for day two. Luckily for us in early attendance, the afternoon blizzard decided not to come to fruition, but the biting cold remained constant for the day.
Trampled by Turtles was just getting into "Codeine," a fast paced pickin' dedication to the "nicest thing I've seen, for awhile." Turtles played all the hits for us including "Victory" and "Wait So Long," both of which I was pretty anxious to hear. I missed the opening of their set, but catching the tail end was enough to satisfy my craving for organic instruments being used to their fullest potential.
Towards the end of Turtles, I headed over to Break Science with special guest MC Chali 2na of Jurassic 5. Break Science is set to go on tour with Gramatik following the SnowBall appearances. Since both of these artists are distributed under Pretty Lights Music, there's a good chance that the after party appearance in Miami for Ultra Music Festival will bring out Derek Vincent Smith himself to share the stage with entire PLM lineup.
The Break Science set was exciting, and it's nice to see Adam Deitch on the skins with his own band. It was only a few years ago that this guy was sharing the stage with Pretty Lights, until Smith decided that he didn't need a drummer anymore. I'm not all too familiar with Break Science's catalogue, but I can say that the deceiving drops intrigued me enough to stick around and see where they were taking the tracks. They would produce this intense build-up that would lead into off-timed break, then drop feverishly into Deitch's insane drumming. It was solid.
After that energetic set, I mingled around the vendors area looking at all the gear/swag/crap that people sell. Some of the stuff is awesome, and some of it is just swaggity-swag-swag that will ultimately end up on the grounds for someone to clean up later (see: glow sticks, glow wands, sunglasses, stickers, etc). The Spirit Hood booth must have been slinging a lot of product, because it looked like one out of every six girls was walking around with their faux-totem hanging down to their wrists.
I sauntered over to the Heat Hut to catch some of Pictureplane. When Travis Egedy threw props to some new shoes that he just bought that lit up but that were also too small, I don't think the slope-ready crowd know what they were in for. "Real is a Feeling" had the whole place moving, and Egedy's engaged the crowd by stating, "Hey snow-bros and snow-females! All of you snowboarding? I don't snowboard. I don't do that shit. It's expensive." I laughed because I took it as he was calling everyone out, which he kind of was.
After Pictureplane, I trekked back over to the Groove Tent for Dillon Francis's set. Apparently, the Groove Tent was having some serious technical difficulties or something, because Francis and the following sets were running pretty late. I didn't stick around the Groove Tent for too long -- it's hard to rage in the middle of a few thousand people with camera gear constantly getting crushed.
I caught a few songs from the Kooks, including "Seaside," which was a nice balance for the heavily weighted DJ sets that I had just left. The Kooks aren't really my favorite band, nor do they really pique my interest beyond a few tracks, but these song birds can really capture a crowd with emotion and passion. Needless to say, I enjoyed the set, and the break from uptempo drum beats and bass drops.
I attempted to catch some of Dada Life, but the late starting set prohibited this. I do know they partied hard with blow-up champagne bottles and guys in banana suits on stage: A typical Dada Life show with the typical party guys.
TV on the Radio was up on the main stage, but it took some time to get sound checked. I guess freezing temperatures are not really conducive to tuning, but either way the field was steadily filling for Brooklyn indie rockers. I was first turned on to TV on the Radio from an old Thrasher skate video, and have since jammed their sounds for all activities. The set last night was pretty foreign to me, though, and I couldn't really connect.
I shot over to the Heat Hut again and caught some blippy dance tunes thanks to Smalltown DJs. Dada Life was clearing out and making way for the laser heavy Ghostland Observatory.
Snoop's stage presence has reached legendary status, and there isn't anything that can deter him from delivering a great performance. Based on Ru Johnson's review of his show at the Fillmore the previous night, it seems that he played the exact same set, except this time donning a large down coat. We got the classics and the new hits, the former being the high points for me.
-- Britt Chester
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