The last hurrah of SnowBall Music Festival 2013 came to Winter Park slow, steady and a bit anti-climactically on Sunday. Whether from exhaustion or indifference, numbers had thinned noticeably in comparison to similarly timed shows on Friday and Saturday. You’d hear no complaints from the festival faithful, though. All that meant for Sunday’s attendees was better vantage points of their favorite artists and an easier time getting around.
For those who couldn’t get close enough for Pretty Lights on Saturday night, Michal Menert had a similar flavor with a more manageable, 2:30 p.m. crowd to boot. Factor in an hour gobbled by daylight savings time, and Menert’s show might as well have been 8 a.m. for these fest-heads, but he and drummer A.C. Lao made it work. Fresh mulch in the Groove Tent provided the much-needed foot friction that was missing on Saturday’s festivities, thankfully. The fedora-capped Menert showered the crowd with bass and confetti and blasted the cobwebs out of this crowd of SnowBall early birds.
Later, Surfer Blood took to the main stage with a brand of deceptively-dark beach rock just as the afternoon started to warm. They played a half-and-half mix of tunes from their 2011 debut, “Astro Coast,” and new tracks off their upcoming sophomore LP, “Pythons.” This turned out to be the most fun rock set of the weekend, despite a festival that had not been kind to its guitar-wielding brethren. Case in point, after “Twin Peaks,” a song lead vocalist JP Pitts dedicated to the handful of couples in the crowd, a guy in a head-to-toe abominable snowman costume rode in on one of those pony sticks usually reserved for toddlers. Pitts immediately invited him on stage to dance while they banged out “Catholic Pagans,” featuring a Hendrix-style teethed solo by guitarist Thomas Fekete.
Flostrodamus’s set started with bumping hip-hop remixes, like his awesome reworking of Drake’s “Started From The Bottom,” and could’ve kept on that as long as he wanted as far as the crowd was concerned. But a thumping version of “Videogames” by blogger bait Lana Del Rey queued a turn. Before long, he was dropping an extended “Harlem Shake” on the crowd, with a volley of raised Go Pros and cellphones from the crowd to follow. The show-ending sound bite, sampled from a pop-up ad (“Congratulations: You won!”) confirmed it: The Internet had sprung a leak.
Opposite Grizmatic and Flosstrodamus, Tennis provided a chill respite from the relative digital chaos reigning elsewhere at dusk on Sunday. “You’re so hot!” yelled one of indie rock dudes in the crowd at front woman Alaina Moore. “You can’t even see me,” she retorted, referring to dim stage lighting. But maybe that was his point: her voice sounded gorgeous on their previous song, “My Better Self,” from 2012’s “Young & Old.”
The last shows of Sunday night put a choice to the festival-goers: get your hair blown back via electronic DJ Flying Lotus, or by electronic band Sound Tribe Sector 9. All a matter of taste. STS9 had size on its side, in terms of stage, crowd and sound. Their’s is a show of spectacle, and it was on full-display during their hour-and-a-half set on Sunday night. Aside from the snowboarders and skiers flying off the MainStage ramp pre show, they threw classics like “Abcees” at the crowd early on, and jammed into a killer “Arigato” for the penultimate song of the festival.
After playfully addressing the crowd, Steven Ellison walked behind a thin screen that would lay between he and the crowd most of the night and became Flying Lotus. While on his deck, Ellison was a silhouette against the tangential geometric shapes projected in front of and behind him. He let the music take center stage, banging out hits from “Los Angeles” (“Melt!”) and his new LP, “When The Quiet Comes” (“Sultan’s Request,” “Putty Boy Strut”).
Through SnowBall’s formidable speaker array was the way Flying Lotus was meant to be heard.
Dylan Owens is Reverb’s indie and bluegrass blogger. You can read more from him in Relix magazine and the comment sections of WORLDSTARHIPHOP.
Dylan Langille is a Fort Collins-based photographer and a new contributor to Reverb.