Snow Ball shows hits and misses on Day 1 - Reverb

Live review: Snow Ball Music Festival, Day 1

It’s certainly a difficult task to organize a new festival, something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Long beer lines, volunteers who don’t know which way is up and transportation miscues — Snow Ball suffers from them all. But, the biggest complaint in Avon this weekend can be summed up with one word: cold.

That’s ultimately a foolish finger-point, though. Music festivals are known for harsh temperatures: Tennessee’s Bonnaroo might only be slightly more uncomfortable than Chicago’s humid setting for Lollapalooza in the dead of summer. So, why not a fest in the Rockies in March? Sunscreen and mist tents be damned: Snow Ball calls for long underwear, hand warmers and, maybe, a spot of whiskey.

Early on during the first day, a sparse crowd showed up for Gauntlet Hair’s short and echo-heavy psychedelics. It’s a shame: this is one of Denver’s great bands, full of the potential for the big time. When temperatures lowered, the “Groove Tent” seemed the place to be. (It wasn’t entirely clear whether the music of the body heat was the main attraction, there.) Porter Robinson blasted Justice-like bass that could almost knock you off your feet — if the ice on the outskirts hadn’t already. He sampled Daft Punk’s “One More Time” and the other DJs in the tent followed a similar program: Zed’s Dead packed ‘em in before 12th Planet bested the previous entrants. Diplo offered up a furious party –the condensation from above was dripping back down onto the audience — and proved, if nothing else, that a snippet from Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” is still a joy.

Outside, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros played the kind of catchy stuff that’s landed the large crew — there were ten members on stage at Snow Ball — in television commercials. “Home” resonated best and front man Alex Ebert connected, literally: he jumped into the crowd for a surf right off the bat. (Maybe he was cold, too.)

Pretty Lights closed out the first evening with appropriate flair. The DJ-heavy Snow Ball saw Lights come to the stage in front of a digital screen waving the Colorado flag. The electronics burst and — even if the spectacle was mostly derivative — the kids were dancing with abandon, warming each other right up.

Click here for a full review and photo gallery of Day 2.

Click here for Day 3.

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Colin St. John is a Denver writer and a new contributor to Reverb.

Evan Semón is a Denver freelance writer and photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work.

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