Snow Ball wraps up with Flaming Lips in Vail: Photos - Reverb

Live review: Snow Ball Music Festival, Day 3

The final day of Snow Ball lived up to its moniker as flakes peppered the Vail Valley with fervor. Baths played the large tent in the afternoon and exhibited the kind of nuanced, reserved electronics previously at a dearth here. Though San Franciscos’s Eskmo and, later, String Cheese Incident side project EOTO restored the basement bass and dub.

Portugal. The Man was a highlight. The group interjected some much-needed rock ‘n’ roll to Snow Ball with singer John Gourley’s falsetto calling upon Queen, glam and — at moments — even Jamiroquai. It’s been said before, but this Wasilla, Alaska band deserves to be the town’s posterboys — not a certain mama grizzly.

Speaking of which, a rabid liberal from Oklahoma City headlined the night and played “Silver Trembling Hands” upon the shoulders of a dude in a bear suit. It was Wayne Coyne and his Flaming Lips: what everyone had been waiting for. Booking the vets was a major coup for Snow Ball — if the fest plans on surviving, the powers-that-be will have to grab a band on this level again. That’s no easy task, though: Even if the Lips cruised through what amounted to a low-key set for them, this is a troupe whose live spectacle belongs in one of those 1000 Things/Places/Whatever Before You Die books. Confetti, electronic vagina pulsating, balloons with confetti, Coyne’s space bubble, frowning caterpillars and smiling butterflies: it was all on display. Coyne said early in the set that the Lips had never played in the snow before — a surprise considering that if any band had, it would have to be them — and his mood was reflective. The encore of an acoustic “Do You Realize??” and a riotous “Race for the Prize” made for a whirling dialectic. There was snow and, yes, it was a ball.

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

Click here for Day 1.

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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.