Volvo Snowbombing Festival 2011: Taking Après-ski to a new level
Last year Volvo Snowbombing was voted best overseas festival at the UK Festival Awards, meaning 2011 certainly had some big ski boots to fill. The non-stop, week-long holiday combines a ski-break with a music festival, but it’s not your typical indie vibe – Snowbombing brings electronic, dance, drum ‘n’ bass and dubstep to the floor with an unfaltering energetic reception from the crowd.
Twelve years since it first hit the slopes and the festival seems to have remained under the mainstream radar (with many still having never encountered the name) but its popularity is steadily growing each year.
You might expect the inhabitants of the picturesque village of Mayrhofen to dread the yearly onslaught of Brits like a Hitler joke, but as the procession of cars entered after the Volvo Road trip, there was an abundance of smiling faces ready to welcome the Snowbombers and soak up the festival spirit.
The Road Trip involves 150 decorated cars travelling from both Maidstone and Amsterdam for a stop-off in Frankfurt, where there was an exclusive performance from rapper Example at the hotel. This is the way to get to the festival in style, with many starting the week as they meant to go on, in an assortment of fancy dress costumes (kudos to the Cool Runnings group, complete with decorated van). A big plus point of going on the road trip is that you also get an extra night of action before the majority of festival goers ascend on the village.
Along the way there was also a selection of celebrity travellers; Mr Motivator keeping up spirits in spandex, Example setting not such a good one (but certainly a fun one), Professor Green looking lonely in the corner (he had tonsillitis) and The Cuban Brothers shimmying all the way across Europe. An activity pack is also included for entertainment on the long drive which helped pass the hours, and running into other voyagers along the way keeps the anticipation levels high.
For those who skied all day, every day, and partied into the early hours, I applaud you. Although the slopes upheld the carnival feel, I could happily attend the festival just for the atmosphere and the acts in the evening. At an exclusive Ice Camp party in the mountains, Mark Ronson even declared that the crowd was one of the best he’d ever performed to (“…and I wouldn’t just say that”), and the snow revellers maintained that energy all week.
Last year the headliners were indie bands Editors and Doves, but this year saw The Prodigy top the stellar line up. Naturally the most electric act of the week, but sadly also the festival’s sole major downfall. Playing in a secluded forest away from the main music venue of the Racket Club meant only 3000 people could get in to see the show, and I can’t help feeling that every single person unable to get in was somewhat cheated. Nevertheless, the group owned the stage, drawing in the packed audience with their fearless attitudes as they played back to back classics, with not one, but two encores, ending on an astronomical high with ‘Out of Space’.
Dubstep trio Magnetic Man put on a powerful set, with ‘I Need Air’ unsurprisingly sending the audience into a frenzy, not that anyone needed encouragement. The only way they could’ve really been better is if ‘Mad’ had come later in the set, as commencing with the tune meant it didn’t take off the way it can and should do – although the bass might’ve been partially to blame as the sound system couldn’t fully handle it.
Shy FX later put on a set at smaller venue Arena, and was a definite stand-out act for the week. Not only did Andre fire out tune after tune, throwing in a couple of very well-received UK garage classics, but at one point Skream, Joker and Ms Dynamite lined up on stage to join in. When the acts join in with the party, you really know a festival’s going down well.
Chase and Status pumped life back into Drum ‘n’ Bass, showing there’s still a big crowd for the genre, and that crowd isn’t going anywhere quietly. Fatboy Slim then ended the jam-packed week’s proceedings and did so with gusto, but not starting until 1am meant the audience had to thin out in order to attempt the journey in the morning.
Other entertainment included Caraoke (singing in the back of a Volvo with the lyrics on a screen in the front – you can then send the film to friends), live band karaoke, a street party, Mr Motivator sessions and a comedy festival. The humorous acts included Rufus Hound of Celebrity Juice fame, and a particular highlight was the cheeky Irish duo Abandoman. One plays the guitar and sings whilst the other raps – with a freestyle talent that is unparalleled anywhere in the market. No two shows could ever be the same as they pick out audience members and freestyle about them, with comedic timing and witty rhyming that’s so impressive it could’ve been scripted.
What started off as an après ski party has now morphed into a hedonistic retreat for 5000 revellers who come away itching for next year’s fix. There’s no denying that this festival isn’t cheap; a good chunk of visitors are middle class youngsters with enough allowance to sniff their weight in cocaine. But Snowbombing’s up there as not only one of the best festivals, but also the friendliest, with the most eclectic entertainment and the liveliest party spirit. Even if you’re not the keenest skier, it’s just one of those experiences you can only recommend – but can’t quite put your finger on exactly on what makes it so memorable.Tagged in: chase and status, Drum 'n' bass, Dubstep, European festival, Example, festival, Prodigy, road trip, Shy fx, skiing, Snowbombing, uk garage, Volvo
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