As we sailed down the dark, lakeside highway from Tahoe City to South Lake, we read the SnowGlobe Music Festival lineup aloud one more time. From seasoned favorites to fresh, new talent, the best of the best would converge on this small, mountain utopia over the next three days. But to us and our 13,000 new best friends, this was more than another music festival—-this was a celebration of another year coming to an end. Reflection, nostalgia, and anticipation running through our veins, this event had a lot to deliver.
The first word that comes to my mind when trying to describe the cold: violent. It immediately became clear upon exiting the shuttle that we were going to need a plan of attack to ensure survival. Disclosure had just taken the main stage, so we boogied our way into a warm-looking pocket of the crowd. There, among a tribe of spirit-hooded bros from Mammoth, we began our adventure. (It wasn’t until later that we found out they were security guards. Yikes.)
With one of the boy-wonders sick at home, Guy Lawrence took on Tahoe alone. Their live show is unbelievable, but Disclosure’s DJ set game is still incredibly strong. Infusing their tried-and-true hits with a spitfire electro edge, Settle had a new late-night feel. It wasn’t all bangers—“January” was a chilled out moment of beauty. Closing out with “Latch” (duh), I looked up at the massive pine trees illuminated by colorful lights and tried to pinch myself through my two pairs of gloves, two coats and three shirts. No dice-—must be a dream.
Next, we found ourselves drawn to the healthy collection of ski-bros doing tricks to the right of the mainstage. (Didn’t get many pictures of this cause I was sort of busy.)
And then all of the sudden--in a burst of Love and a flash of Brostep: there was a live Skrillex in our midst.
A most curious creature he is, the wild Skrilldawg. Despite incessant performing and production, his energy is never waning—-on a scale of 1-10, Sonny Moore runs at a consistent 15.
Zig-zaging between all three of his smash-hit albums, he touched on every classic imaginable. Knowing exactly what the crowd wanting, he wove in some choice Jack Ü as well: that “7/11” remix (straight fire) and that LOL-able Lion King breakdown (top FTW moment of 2014). A blizzard had set in by the middle of his 90-minute set, and it wasn’t until then that I realized that my gloves were gone. Surely, hypothermia was near. Never fear – “Breakn’ A Sweat” hits and the fire cannons bathe the crowd in warmth and light.
Day One Photo Gallery
Continue on to Day Two…
When we woke the next morning, the temperature was a gut-wrenching 4 degrees. With 50 mph wind gusts to boot, it would have been easy to feel discouraged…
But NAY! US SnowGlobers turn down for nothing. LIVE favorites Snakehips and Djemba Djemba did their very best to warm everybody up as the cold ripped through the festival grounds mid-afternoon, but I would be lying if I said the conditions weren’t distracting at this point. The weather even prevented several big artists from making it to Tahoe (*sobs about Anna Lunoe*). It was such a bummer, some of the best talent was frontloaded and it took most of the crowd until around 5:00pm to build up enough liquid courage to get out there.
With the sun down, festival-fave Phantogram hit the main stage and my God, they were such troopers. Lead-goddess jumped all around the stage while the band delivered an excellent set sans-gloves and sans-hand warmers (#HOW!). They kept their cool so well. Nothing was off. This was a perfect way to begin the evening – graduating from the chilled-out “Bill Murray” into the dance party-certified “When I’m Small”. They put much-needed smiles on all of our shivering faces.
And then for something completely different!! Flux Pavillion takes the stage to thousands of thirsty rave-bunnies. Compared to this, Phantogram was a small campfire. Flux Pavillion hit like a flaming ball of pure heat. He laid down banger after banger with ease and composure--he’s not the type to run around the stage and hop up on the decks (anymore). With this massive set, Flux Pavillion reminded Tahoe that he’s still one of The Kings of Dubstep. I felt like a teenager all over again.
This brings us to one of the most heartbreaking festival conflicts of all time: Porter Robinson vs Odesza. Both of their albums topped “Best Of” lists around the country. Both bring something fresh and individual to the industry. Both playing at the same exact god-damned time!!!! SnowGlobe, you are a cruel lover.
We start with Porter. “Is anyone there???” – and he dives into his immaculate new release Worlds with any further ado. These tracks are sweeping, cinematic beauty that manage to balance heavyweight frequencies and dreamlike melodies with ease. Porter has presented a clear, succinct vision with Worlds. Set perfectly among this winter wonderland, this set felt otherworldly—-almost mystical. And wahhh… he’s *soooo* cute; singing live on stage sent many a SnowGlober’s heart soaring into the stratosphere.
Trying to get into the Sierra Tent for the end of Odesza’s set was probably the biggest joke of my life. People were spilling out every side of this tent. I had lost my group by this point (typical), so I was on my own. I saw some people had opened up one of the tent panels to squeeze into the middle – so I followed them (desperate times, etc). I found my way onto some shoulders, and what I witnessed was completely sublime. Let it be known, ODESZA HAS ARRIVED. Their influence can be felt through the electronic industry—-they’ve brought back musicality.
Day Two Photo Gallery
Continue on to Day Three…
Waking on the third day, we braced for impact. It was finally here: New Year’s Eve. Rehabilitating from the previous days, we slowly got “glammed” up (aka four pairs of shiny leggings and #FUR) while eating an entire pizza and snuggling a Newfoundland named Charlie we had made friends with the night before. A brief calm before the storm.
We began with a small-time producer you’ve probably never heard of called Zedd. The crowd was charged from the moment his smiley-face, electro-house barrage began. You’d think after The Grammy’s, the myriad of smash hits and the years of massive-scale performances, Anton Zaslavski might be a little jaded. WRONG. His excitement was the most infectious. He was having the time of his life. He sailed from original anthems a la “Clarity” and “Stay The Night” to ingenious remixes like the Zelda theme song. Some of the most epic sing-a-longs I’ve ever experienced. Lasers and fireworks punctuating his performance, Zedd ushered in the evening with unmatched enthusiasm. (And then jetted off the Vegas for another show…HOW does he do it, I mean really?)
Continuing our march on to midnight, the electronic world’s favorite lounge lizards took the mainstage next. Cherub has been a funky (albeit a little sleazy) mainstay on the scene for long enough to not give any f*cks whatsoever. As they began, they dedicated their first number to anybody that’s ever done cocaine in a port-o-potty BUT THAT’S NONE OF MY BUSINESS. Though few of their songs highlight important emotional conflict or whatever, their talent is undeniable. Surrounded by several instruments each (including a vocodor which was SO sweet), these irreverent Nashville hooligans ripped through a blazing hot set that is bound to garner them some serious attention on their upcoming tour. (Note to Jason: Please never get tired of the silk, rose-printed track suit.)
In stark contrast to the lighthearted Cherub, the next step on our NYE journey was the fire-breathing hip-hop legends Atmosphere. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of catching these guys at several festivals and this was hands down the best set I’ve ever seen them execute. It could have been the cold making them work harder and get angrier, but something sent Slug and Ant into overdrive. The beats were heavy and percussive – they certainly shut up all the haters complaining about a non-EDM headliner. Afterwards I actually heard a daisy-chained chick say “I think I like hip-hop now” – so we’re making progress and Atmosphere is leading the charge. From “God Loves Ugly” to my personal fave “Kanye West”, Slug spit nothing but heat with every syllable. The message was clear: never, ever sleep on Atmosphere.
And then finally it was time. What’s cooler than being cool? Flume. The main stage packed in as tight as possible when the ever-suave Harley Streten jogged on stage. The Feature Presentation. This has been a massive year for Flume—-with much to celebrate and much to look forward to, he gave this night everything that he had. With effortless charm, this Aussie brought us into midnight with fan-favorites like the uber-smooth “On Top” and the heart-pumping “Holdin On’”. His set was electrified with a hip-hop edge from start to finish – including the genius re-work of “Insane” featuring Killer Mike.
At midnight, the fireworks towered over the crowd for what felt like hours. Bottles of André popped left and right – I can say with 90% certainty that the champagne very likely froze mid-air and turned to snowflakes. Yeah that’s right I said champagne snowflakes — VERY RARE, MY FRIENDS. Surrounded by a color forest of massive pines? No words on a page can really articulate the scene at midnight. Pure joy. That’s the closest I can get.
Thank God he wasn’t done yet. After midnight, Flume premiered some fiery new sounds from (what we hope to be) a forth-coming album and threw in just a little bit of What So Not as well (who had played about an hour earlier). Though he be but 23, he be brilliant. He reads his crowd expertly, building a dynamic that is both organic and unexpected. Working odd jams and strategic offbeats, Streten has developed a sound and character all his own. Though they often try, few replicate the individuality of his style. He was #flawless.
As we shuffled back to South Lake’s Montbleu casino with our new best friends for seven more hours of shenanigans, we discussed: What’s the verdict? Did they meet the expectations? Will we go back? WAS IT DOPE?
Yes, yes and MORE YAAAAS!
SnowGlobe is a festival that embodies everything that a New Year’s Eve has come to mean: reflection, anticipation and celebration. YES, it was the coldest I have ever been in my entire life – but we were all in it together. When I made it back to the fireplace at the end of the night, I really felt like I had accomplished something, you know? Antarctic conditions be damned, I can’t remember a single person without a smile on their face. The musical excellence of these artists, the humbling beauty of Lake Tahoe and the effervescent energy of the crowd all came together to create something unique, amazing and unforgettable. I can’t think of a since place I would have rather been to begin 2015.