The 2013 SnowBall Music Festival was held at Grand Park in Winter Park, CO from March 8-10 in 2013, a change in venue from the past few years when the event was held in Vail Valley, CO.
A diverse line-up featured acts that appealed to fans of numerous musical genres. Whether a fan of EDM, hip-hop, rock, or funk, Snowball had a little something for everyone.
We’re going to break the festival down for you day by day so you can experience (or re-live) the beauty and excitement of Snowball 2013.
Traffic heading in to Snowball was horrible with a two hour wait to go about 3 miles and get into the town of Winter Park. What should have been an hour drive from Denver, which was up some steep winding mountain roads, took almost three hours.
The weather forecast for Winter Park called for 1-2 feet of snow over weekend but the snow did not start falling until late Friday night.
With all of the traffic, we arrived a little later than intended. From just outside the festival, We could hear the crowd going absolutely nuts for Porter Robinson who was just finishing up his set on the Main Stage, wrapping up with his hit, “Language” from his “Spitfire” album.
Once inside, walking around festival, the smell of cooking food hung in the air and the ground was packed snow. There were hidden holes and if stepped in, they would swallow your leg up to your knee.
Kendrick Lamar was next up on main stage after Porter Robinson.
Lamar hit the stage rocking a Snowball beanie, vest, and hoodie. While he looked a little cold, he wasted no time warming up the crowd.
Kendrick’s first major label studio album, “Good Kid, m.A.A.d City”, which was released in October 2012, was critically acclaimed, dubbed Time Magazine’s #2 album of 2012, and #6 on Rolling Stone’s 50 best albums of 2012.
His album his packed with hits like “Backseat Freestyle”, “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”, “Poetic Justice”, and “Swimming Pools (Drank)”.
While Lamar’s album was one of our favorites from last year, We felt like the energy from his studio album did not transfer over as well to his live performance. For the majority of his set, there was no light on him what so ever, and while he did a good job of getting the crowd pumped up (rapping along to his songs, finishing his lines, etc), we thought the performance would have been better if it were easier to actually see the artist.
The crowd definitely showed Lamar the love, and it was obvious that many people came to Snowball to see him. Even when he pulled out songs he dubbed “oldies” to test the crowd’s knowledge of his lyrics, they did not disappoint.
Krewella, the dub-step trio from Chicago, has been on absolute fire as of late. They are scheduled to play their first Ultra Music Festival this week, and were given the headlining slot at Snowball’s Groove Tent. A large crowd had formed anxiously waiting for Krewella to take the stage, long before their set began. Signs and totem poles read “I love Jahan” and people were cheering for them before they even appeared.
Krewella hit the stage they wasted no time getting “wet”, as they like to call it, asking the crowd, “Are you ready to rage?!?!” and then dropped their hit song “Alive”, followed by an unreleased remix of Zedd’s “Scorpion Move”, “Killin it”, and “Come and Get It”.
Maybe all of Krewella’s success and extensive travel has confused them a bit. At one point Yasmine Yousaf took to the mic and told the crowd “This is our first time playing in Colorado! we are so happy to be here with you at Snowball!”
The thing is, this was at least their second time in Colorado, because we caught them at Global Dance Festival at Red Rocks in 2012…but who’s counting?
Krewella’s performance was high energy and intense as always. They rocked out on stage with a bottle of Jamison, their hair flying all over the place as they head-banged along with the music.
Last up for us on Day 1 was Big Gigantic, who was headlining the main stage.
The Boulder, Colorado based duo were not far from home, and tons of people in the crowd were rocking “Big Gigantic” memorabilia and gear.
Incorporating the use of a saxophone and drums alongside hip-hop/electronic instrumentals, Big Gigantic gave a high-energy performance with an amazing light show as a backdrop. Their recent sold out show in Philadelphia was fantastic and their Snowball set was even better.
Day 1 ended with Big Gigantic rocking out, the crowd going bonkers, and an impressive fireworks display. After day 1, we knew the next two days were sure to be special, and with a supposed foot of snow expected to fall before the start of day 2, it was truly going to be a magical experience.
Snowball Music Festival was billed as an event that was more than just music; it was about the experience of attending, from the start of day 1 until the end of day 3.
Winter Park, CO is not like Vail, Aspen, and Breckenridge in that it is less of a town (ski-town) and more like a resort.
Friday night into Saturday morning it snowed about one foot and when we woke up early Saturday morning, it was still snowing!
Wanting the full experience of the SnowBall festival, we spent the majority of Saturday skiing at the Winter Park resort. The base of the mountains/resort was roughly 3 miles down Highway 40 from the festival, or a 5 minute shuttle ride.
Saturday ski conditions were some of the best conditions imaginable. A Winter Park local we spoke with, who worked at the Rise and Shine Cafe, said he had lived in Winter Park his entire life, and had never seen such amazing snow conditions.
The festival had sent out copies of the shuttle service, with 4 different lines running. The only problem was that these shuttles were less than organized. It was difficult to tell which bus was arriving, as they were not clearly marked, the buses did not follow the time schedule. The drivers also seemed to have less knowledge about the routes and festival than they should have. After skiing, it took us three tries on three different buses (wasting over an hour of time) to finally make it back to Lot M where our RV was parked.
By time time we made it back it was already time for Datsik to headline the Groove Tent.
There were many positives we took away from Day 2 once we arrived. There were far less obviously intoxicated people at this festival than at most. Maybe the amazing atmosphere was enough of a high for them, or maybe the cold weather was a deterrent to getting too messed up. Whatever the reason, this was a welcomed sight.
The few times we did see a festival goer in need of medical attention (for whatever reason), the security and medical staff’s response times were some of the best we’ve have ever seen. Within seconds, security would have the attendee removed from the audience, with room for him/her to breathe, and medics would arrive within minutes.
Another thing we noticed were that people were not constantly asking for their photo to be taken. In Philadelphia, we would be very rich if we had a dollar for every time we were asked at a festival/show to take someone’s photo.
It seemed that the SnowBall attendees were more interested in enjoying themselves, the time with their friends, and the music, than flagging down a photographer and demanding they take photos of them and their friends. Kudos Colorado.
Saturday night was the coldest night of the festival. Despite wearing multiple pairs of socks, we still couldn’t feel our toes. SnowBall had heaters placed around the festival and you could constantly see festival goers flock to the heaters to warm up while they waited for a friend or watched the main stage from afar. There was also a giant fire pit in the center of the festival, with picnic benches surrounding the fire.
There were tons of great food trucks, and people could grab food, walk to the tables, and warm up beside the fire. There was something special about being able to just sit down with your friends next to an open fire, eat good food, be surrounded by the rocky mountains, and enjoy amazing music. It was breathtaking, and certainly lived up to the billing of SnowBall.
The overnight snow fall helped cover up holes in the ground that were filed with slush on Friday, making walking around much easier.
With everything else we experienced on Saturday, it was easy for the music to take a back-seat, but things were just heating up.
L.A. based Dub-step artist Datsik, was given the honor of close out Day 2 of the Groove Tent and his set was arguably one of the best of the entire festival.
Everyone we saw from the crowd, to the festival staff, to security personnel, was clearly enjoying themselves. We even saw one security guard, probably the meanest looking of them all (at the festival), bobbing his head to the music, almost as if he did not even realize he was doing it.
Datsik’s SnowBall set wasn’t heavy and aggressive Dub-step like he played on his “Fire Power” tour. You could clearly hear the hip-hop sounds that influence the DJ who grew up idolizing Wu Tang Clan, but it was not the trap style of hip-hop with tons of sirens, and yelling vocals, which is synonymous with acts like Flosstradamus.
His remix that incorporated the vocals from “Popped a Molly” by Trinidad James into a bass heavy instrumental had the crowd go absolutely insane. As did his mix of Notorious B.I.G.’s lyrics to Juicy “Same number same hood, its all good” into Baauer’s remix of Flosstradamus’s “Rollup”.
Datsik played numerous bass heavy instrumentals and seamlessly incorporated great rap lyrics/hooks into the beats, transitioning flawlessly from one song to the next. It was a real treat.
After Datsik, it was time to head over to the Main Stage to see Colorado native Derrick Vincent Smith, better known as Pretty Lights, close out Day 2 of the SnowBall.
Pretty Lights’ set was one of the most enjoyable musical performances we have ever witnessed. It was worthy of standing outside in single digit temperatures to listen to the entire thing, which is exactly what we, and all the other attendees did.
Pretty Lights sets himself apart from many other DJs in the world of EDM by really only playing his own productions and not mixing other people’s music into his set.He played a slew of his hits, such as “So Bright”, “Finally Moving”, “I Know the Truth”, and “We Must Go On” (as well as remixes to many of them).
His set was, as always, accompanied by an stunningly beautiful light show.
Pretty Lights let the crowd know on several occasions just how happy he was to be performing with his people in Colorado, and the sea of fans went nuts every time he gave them a shout out.
His performance was so good that part way through we had to just put our camera away and enjoy it, not through a lens but through our own eyes. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The night ended with an amazing fireworks display while Pretty Lights’ closed out his set.
Overall, Day 2 was fantastic, and we still had one more full day to go!
Come Sunday Morning, the snow that had fallen the day before was in the midst of melting.
Walking into the festival, we could already see giant puddles (puddles so large they could be considered ponds, puddles so big they had their own tributaries) lining the entrance to the Festival. Although snow was melting everywhere, the weather overall was absolutely beautiful, there wasn’t a cloud in the bright blue sky, the picturesque Rocky Mountains surrounded you, and there were three stages with awesome music.
First up when we arrived was Aeroplane, who was playing in the Groove Tent. Aeroplane was playing deep, French house sounds, and was looking stylish wearing Sunglasses, a backwards hat, and a black sweater with a white button up shirt popping out from above the collar. Aeroplane’s tunes had the entire groove tent rocking. While he was scheduled to play from 4:00-5:00, come 5:15, he was still on, which led to some confusion about which stage to go to. By a little later in the day though, all acts were starting at their scheduled time.
After our first trip into the Groove tent, we realized that navigating through the tent was going to be tricky. All of the packed snow that served as the ground-covering had melted, and what was left was a thick sheet of ice that covered the entire festival ground. Parts of the groove tent were literally like an ice skating rink. The Festival crew tried laying hay over the ice, and it worked to some degree, but not really. Some people could be seen skating around the “ice rink”, enjoying the lack of friction between their shoes and the ground. Others, especially the visibly intoxicated, had obvious difficulty navigating the groove tent. One concertgoer fell, tried to get up, fell again, then received assistance from friends to get back on his feet, only to have the entire group fall. Twice.
After Aeroplane, it was time to head to the Main Stage for Robert Randolph. Robert Randolph and the Family Band played music that was infused with funk and soul. As you could guess, the lead member of the band is Robert Randolph, a pedal steel guitarist who has been named one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone. Randolph was just another example of the diversity of artists that were on the SnowBall lineup, and it was nice to hear some actual instruments being played in addition to all of the DJs. We wish we could have stayed for their entire set. Unfortunately, we could only stay for a few minutes because of a timing issue, so it was back to the Groove Tent to catch Destructo. While walking away from the stage, however, we had to stop and listen to the bands rendition of Purple Haze.
Destructo came onto the Groove Tent almost immediately following Aeroplane’s set. Destruco started his set wearing a button up hoodie, but that was soon taken off, revealing a t-shirt that read “Los Fucking Angeles”. Destruco began by playing music that was more chill than what Aeroplane had been playing. Not long into his set though, he transitioned into some more upbeat tunes. His set progressed nicely from start to finish, and by the end of his time, the crowd was going nuts. He finished up with an awesome remix of the Classic 90’s rap song “Jump” by Kris Kross.
Next up in the Groove tent was Flosstradamus, famous for playing the new and emerging genre of “TRAP music”, as well as for their high energy performances. The Groove Tent was packed even before they took the stage, and we could hear people in the crowd cheering for the duo. Also known as “hoodie boyz”, Flosstradamus was right at home in chilly Winter Park Colorado. The signature hoodies and beanies that they wear onto the stage were more than practical for this performance. They walked on stage with their hoods up over their heads, as well as with matching Nike shoes that were black with a bright green sole. As they took the stage, you could hear the robotic, digitized “Flosstradamus” sound, which had the crowd going absolutely crazy. Flosstradamus first played one of their own songs, the more laid back “Lana’s Theme”, however, they quickly transitioned into straight Trap music madness by dropping the hit song (and Youtube viral video of the moment) “Harlem Shake” by Baauer. From the start, the Duo absolutely rocked it. They asked the crowd “Whose ready to turn the fuck up?!”. The answer? The crowd was. They continued to play their own originals, such as “Orignal Don”, “Test Me” (a collaboration between Flosstradamus & DJ Sliink), “Piss test” (a Flosstradamus & A-trak remix), their song “Underground Anthem”, their remix to Sub Focus – “Tidal Wave”, “Rollup (as well as Baauers remix to it), “Bands A Make her dance” by Juicy J and many others. We had to leave their set before they finished in order to catch Grizmatik’s performance on the main stage and as we made our way out of the Groove Tent, the crowd was about as bonkers as we had seen them the entire weekend.
On the Main Stage was an act everyone was looking forward to, Grizmatik. Grizmatik is the stage name of artists Griz and Gramatik. GRiZ, who was recently signed to Skillex’s OWSLA record label, is known for his soulful, funky, glitchy bass music that is very similar to that of Pretty Lights. Gramatik, from the Pretty Lights Music Record Label, is a force to be reckoned with, having over 100,000 tracks sold on Beatport, which is interesting considering they give all their music out for FREE (as do all Pretty Lights Music artists). Gramatik’s music is more chill than most artists. He was nominated “Best Chill Out Artist” and “Best Chill Out Track” at the 2010/2012 Beatport Music Awards. When these two forces combine, you know big things are bound to happen. The group performed to a raging crowd, and their performance was accompanied by an amazing light show, air cannons, and tons of confetti.
We made a quick detour to the third stage of the festival, the “Ball Room”, while the Main Stage was being set up for the final act of the Festival. Closing out the Ball Room stage was Crizzly w/ Lil Flip, who arguably had the biggest crowd of the entire festival for that stage. They had the crowd rocking out with their Crunk Step music, and Lil Flip did a great job getting the crowd hyped up for each track.
Last up for the entire festival was STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) an instrumental jam-band that incorporates rock, electronic music, jazz, hip hop, funk and just about everything else into their music. STS9 did a great job closing out the festival and the crowd seemed to love them. With SnowBall winding down, we were looking forward to one last night of listening to awesome music and watching an incredible fireworks display. One slight problem though, the fireworks never came! On both Friday and Saturday, during the closing performance of the night, SnowBall treated festival goers to an AMAZING fireworks display. But come Sunday night, the final night of the festival, there we were, waiting, and waiting… but the fireworks never came.
Overall, the Festival was an amazing experience. The lineup was top notch, there were food trucks that offered a wide selection of food, getting a drink took no time at all, and the ski conditions were perfect. We can’t wait for SnowBall 2014!
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[Photos by Steve Garfinkel Photography]