The line up for this year is the most band heavy in Snowbombing’s nine year history with even 80s ska punksters Madness appearing on the bill, as well as Doherty’s mate Carl Barat. But all this retro nonsense and the presence of run of the mill indie kids aside, Snowbombing has always prided itself on being ‘piste by day and beats by night’. So how are the beats faring now that the bands are moving in?
Our late arrival in Mayrhofen means that there is no time for any action on the slopes, so it’s straight onto the music. One of the hotter tips for the evening is Tayo’s Tracksuit party featuring Tayo himself, Joe Ransom, Klever and Marc Roberts. The venue did this particular tracksuit party very few favours – The Arena is a shitty little sweatbox that reminds you of a hotel waiting room, but stick a load of people in there in shell suits and various other pieces of cheap nylon clothing and it turns into something altogether unappealing. We’re out of there well before Tayo's set at 3 a.m., but all American boy Klever is in fine fettle beforehand dropping a savage set of electro and disco house that worked wonders with the scratchy and sweaty throng. His own track ‘Lets Fall In Love’ has the makings of a classic for those who aren’t afraid of a set played with a smile on your face.
Jump a wee bit forward in time that evening and we’re in the Schlussel where Todd Terje is cutting up a right old palava that flies somewhere between disco and slightly seedy electro. It’s pressing on by now though, and despite the cries of ‘One more Jagerbomb’, we call it a night. A wise move if you can’t see straight. Besides, tomorrow’s the big one.
After a day spent skiing in perhaps the best powder snow April has to offer, the Europhaus has the most tempting line up of the week on in the evening – Annie Nightingale, Freestylers and old favourites The Stanton Warriors. Annie drops a set of diverse breaks and electro that’s strong enough to gain the respect of the crowd, and it’s fair to say that the grand old lady of UK breaks holds her own amongst the younger upstarts. It’s testament to her passion, her liver and her drive that a woman of nearly 70 can still rinse a crowd of mostly under 30 for a good hour and a half. God bless you ma’am.
Then there's the Freestylers, who royally mash together all manner of different styles, vibes, beats and tracks. Breakbeat isn’t new, some would argue it isn’t clever, but if you’re having a party, you want a party set, and that’s what the Freestylers deliver. They mess things up, cut things apart, and it’s hard to spot anyone not bouncing up and down when they drop The Streets’ ‘Blinded By The Lights’. They’re followed by the Stantons, who have been there or thereabouts for years now – breakbeat, electronic, any old cobblers and they’ll be ‘avin it down the front. It’s another one of those sets here tonight. The bass from the sound system threatens to give way during some of the thicker beats on some of their heavier, darker electro. Heart shaking, if not heart stopping stuff.
Later in the evening, down at the Garage, Lost Souls and Marc Roberts keep punters reasonably satisfied until seven in the morning. Although it is tough to be totally satisfied in a venue that is, literally, a garage. At the end, only straggling messes of human traffic are left, and I’m sad to say I’m one of them, and by then I can’t remember anything music wise, as it was frankly becoming a distraction.
The mountains are nothing short of paradise – the snow is deep, the hazy sunshine beautiful. One problem: a huge, huge hangover...and my terrible day spent skiing culminates in a tumble down Red 5 and then a half an hour mission to get a single ski back on. Were the Freestylers really that good?
Tonight we’re off to a venue that makes Snowbombing a little more special – the Arctic Disco, which takes place a thousand metres up the mountain in an igloo. First a stern warning from a health and safety officer: do not go off on your own, do not let friends go off on their own, do not go for a piss round the back of the igloo or you’ll fall down a 60ft drop and die – and then we’re off to the igloo with burning wax candles for glowsticks.
Snowbombing is, simply, a totally unique experience on the festival calendar. It’s the best après ski in Europe bar none. It’s Bestival up a mountain. It has igloos. Not enjoying the music? You can enjoy the slopes. Not enjoying the bands? You can enjoy the DJs. Not enjoying the DJs? Go and check out the bands. I came away from Mayrhofen convinced that there really is something for everyone at Snowbombing. And this year was the event’s ninth year so they must be doing something right. Next year the party turns ten – miss it at your own peril.