Live Review: SnowGlobe 2015 Music Festival
Stepping off the bus and onto the festival grounds for the first night of SnowGlobe, a bristling energy that is absolutely quintessential to this three day festival hits you in the face just hard enough to make you forget about the bite from the winter chill. With kids dressed from head to toe in ski gear, but still managing to pull off that nu-rave flare through several bulky layers, each demonstrated that they are not here for the “scene,” but for the love of the music. In that moment, it’s impossible not to whisper to yourself, perhaps only in your head, “We have arrived.”
But due to a hang up at the hotel, there was no time to waste soaking it all in. Instead, after getting through the gates with hundreds of kids clamoring to meet up with friends and start their three day adventure, it was off to the races to the Sierra Tent, where Canadian whiz-kid Vanic had already been firing off a trap maelstrom that could be heard from hundreds of yards away. And the scene at the tent was insane. It’s hard to recall a non-headlining act commanding such an audience at the festival, especially so early on. But the reason for this warm reception was obvious: Vanic was dropping hit after hit featured on his SnowTape mix, which for many, was the first time hearing what this legend-in-the-making had to offer. Initially, the heat emanating from the crowd was almost unbearable, but after stripping off the jacket, hats, and gloves, and setting in towards the side of the tent (which had a very welcome draft), the music unraveling drop after drop, it became apparent that this might be one of the best sets of the entire festival. Indeed, Vanic set the tone for what would be an absolutely incredible display of musical talent.
Next up at the Sierra tent was NGHTMRE, whose meteoric rise in the EDM industry has been almost too quick and epic to believe. Now a part of Skrillex’s OWSLA label, NGHTMRE carried the torch lit by Vanic, and dropped sonic booms on a crowd that somehow seemed to have grown a bit. It was full sardine mode by this point, and despite the de minimus amount of wiggle room available, people were losing their minds and jumping for the ceiling as he dropped blazing remixes of Keys ‘N Krates’ “Dum Dee Dum,” GTA’s “Red Lips,” and original jams like “You.” It was clear, however, that he was not going to show all his cards at once, but was holding back a few of tricks in his bag for his after party slated at XHale later that night. (Indeed, at that after party, he dropped a fantastic remix of Adele’s “Hello,” which surprisingly enough would not be the last time that particular song was sampled throughout the week.) By the end of his set, there was just one song that would be unacceptable not to play, and giving into the crowd’s demands, he dropped his now famous smash hit, “Street,” and after lighting the powder keg, blew the place up with the VIP remix at the second chorus.
Topping off an incredible start to the festival was Jack Ü, which presented an impressive array of furious trap and hard style hits. Perhaps to the dismay of some, they mostly shied away from playing tracks from their widely acclaimed inaugural album, and seemed to focus on a lot of material from Sonny’s earlier career, but it was nonetheless a fantastic set from start to end. Upping the ante from last year, the main stage featured fireworks during all three nights during the headlining set, which the fans embraced with doe eyes and enthusiastic applause.
On the second day of SnowGlobe, my true love gave to me: Alison Wonderland, Cashmere Cat, Eric Prydz, and a phenomenal dj set by Cut Copy that lasted until 11:30 pm. Alison Wonderland, who typically frolics on the lighter side of things, had one of the heaviest sets of the week, and starkly represented the fact that the girls can not just hang with the boys, but outshine them.
Cashmere Cat had one of the more unique and varied performances of the week, and was able to inject his melodic, indie sound over top slamming bass lines that nearly took the air right out of the room. His set came in waves, with epic, pounding peaks followed by sensual, brooding valleys that gave everyone just enough time to catch their collective breath before entering the next tidal round.
It should surprise nobody that Eric Prydz stole the show on the second night. The subdued crowd that gathered at the main stage (most of whom were probably still recuperating from the night before) for Prydz’s set were immediately transformed by a dialed performance that, in typical fashion, started with a simple, bumping house progression, and slowly grew more complex and aggressive with each bar, until his full onslaught turned the place completely on its head. Totems were bouncing skywards, people were forming pockets where they were dancing as furiously as they possibly could, and light was bouncing from every tree outlining the festival grounds. It was truly an unforgettable scene.
On the final night of SnowGlobe, the lineup came full circle, with Slumberjack showing the Sierra Tent what no holds barred trap music is supposed to sound like. The tempo was unrelenting, and just when you thought that Fletcher Ehlers and Morgan Then had maxed out their repertoire, they unleashed some new monster that nobody had yet heard before.
Taking the stage after Slumberjack was Goldlink, a rapper from Washington D.C. that spit absolute fire on the mic. And at one point, between verses, he jumped up on top of the dj booth and dropped an unexpected track: Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which despite the younger audience, spurred a full-on mosh pit. I would keep my eyes peeled for this guy, as it was quite clear from what he left on stage that he will be making waves in 2016.
Finally, we come to Mr. Dillon Francis. The SnowGlobe people saved the best for last, and the man of the evening was not about to be outdone. In his usual irreverent fashion, Francis delivered a fun, energetic, and upbeat festival-worthy set chock full of his early moombahton jams, as well as more recent material. His alter ego, DJ Hanzel, even made a brief appearance, which kicked it “one more deeper.” The visuals for the set were hilarious, per usual, with Dillon’s face…behind another version of Dillon’s face, with other Dillon faces flying across the screen. He also featured a full-size Drake that sang the lyrics to “Hot Line Bling.” But it wasn’t all giggles, because there’s nothing quiet as serious as when Francis drops the beat. And the drops were fast and furious. Towards the end, he wrapped things up with his now famous single with Kygo, “Coming Over,” and the crowd returned the feels by screaming out the words in unison. It was a perfect symbiosis.
By the time midnight rolled around during What So Not’s set, the crowd had reached a state of meditative elation. While the dancing had somewhat slowed, everyone was kissing, smiling, laughing, shouting, and generally having the time of their lives. As the fireworks exploded overhead, everyone enjoyed their final musical embraces, bleary eyed yet full of joy.
Hats off to SnowGlobe for bringing us yet another unforgettable event!