SnowBall festival kicks off Friday in Avon
Like a snowball, the the lineup for today’s Avon music festival has the ability to catch you by surprise. Unexpected and unpredictable, the schedule switches from heavy synthesizers to a trio whose loudest instruments are their vocal chords. The diversity of SnowBall is what the organizers were going for this year. Instead of focusing on what’s hot right now, they wanted to showcase what will be cool in the future.”It’s ahead-of-the-curve programming,” said Latane Hughes, talent coordinator for SnowBall. “(People) go and see the new generation of talent that’s going to unveil itself this year. We try to be like a crystal ball, forecasting what people are going to want to see when March rolls around.”
What’s the main reason people come to SnowBall? To dance. Whether it’s being swept away with the rhythms of the crowd or moving to the beat of your own drum (or in this case, bass), today’s lineup has plenty dance-heavy acts.Both Rusko and Major Lazer (comprised of DJs Diplo and Switch) are seen as pioneers in the electronica music scene. Sometimes their remixes have replaced the original in popularity and number of YouTube views. A Major Lazer remix sounds like the song took a trip to Jamaica and came back with a sunburn and a “jah mon” accent. The DJ duo often infuses a little island style into their music.After a long day in the hot sun with Major Lazer, Rusko is ready to party the night away. With his last album titled “O.M.G.!”, Rusko is keeping up the enthusiasm with the equally-capitalized “SONGS”. Clearly lowercase does not get across the DJ and producer’s excitement for his new music. The energy of Rusko’s live shows are sure to be at full blast for Friday’s show.”I think for his live show he’ll come up with something new and creative that we haven’t heard yet,” said Avon resident Zach Bankhead, who is planning on attending SnowBall.
Also headlining Friday is Big Boi, best known from his time with hip-hop duo Outkast. Big Boi has been getting a lot of buzz for his solo work and will release his second album at some point this year. Adding hip-hop to the SnowBall lineup was a top priority for the promoters.”We realized that there is such a strong following for hip hop here in Colorado,” Hughes said. “Even the new emergence of dubstep and glitch is all kind of based on the backbone of hip hop rhythms.”Even fellow performers Bag Raiders are excited to see Big Boi play at the festival. Self-described as “Adventure Pop,” Bag Raiders is a smooth-sounding dance duo from Sydney, Australia. Bag Raiders combines the hypnotic beats of Phoenix, the ’80s-influence of M83, and the Aussie-inspired rhythms of MGMT, making it into one luscious listening experience.”Man we love festivals,” Bag Raiders’ Jack Glass said in an email interview. “I can’t think of a time we played one and didn’t have an awesome time. I’m pretty keen to see Big Boi actually. Never seen him before and I really dug his solo album.”
The biggest change from last year’s festival is the addition of a fourth stage. The Ballroom stage is exclusively designed for “live” music. With so much electronic music dominating last year’s festival, the organizers wanted a special place to highlight the indie rock, acoustic and funk bands playing at SnowBall. Many of the Ballroom bands are part of the “ahead of the curve” goal of SnowBall. Although they aren’t household names yet, bands like Princeton, Thundercat and Deer Tick are expected to win over new fans during its sets Friday.Playing in the afternoon on the main stage is another up-and-coming band called The Lumineers. After schlepping around the New York City music scene trying to stand out among a crowd of other aspiring bands, The Lumineers moved to Denver for a change of pace.”The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” said lead singer Wes Schultz. “We were trying to build a fan base, but it’s pretty saturated there (in NYC) with bands trying to crawl up from the top.”The Lumineers is a fitting name for a band whose voices light up their sweet songs about love, most of it unrequited. If you haven’t heard their new single “Ho Hey,” you might soon. It is slowly becoming the sleeper song of 2012, much like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (who played at SnowBall last year) “Home” was for 2010. Look it up on YouTube if you don’t believe us. Described as “heart-on-your-sleeve” music, the band’s fan base has grown due to the sincerity and honesty heard in their music. The Lumineers give their all during live shows, sometimes to the detriment of their larynx.”We try to believe what we’re staying. We’re trying to do something that cuts through,” Schultz said. “We shout a lot at concerts. It looks like our vocal chords are bleeding.”With their first full-length album due out in April, SnowBall festival is only the beginning for this trio. It seems like the lyrics of “Ho Hey” might soon be more than just a premonition.”There’s a line in (the song) that goes ‘I don’t know where I belong, I don’t know where I went wrong, but I can write a song,'” Schultz said. “I don’t know a lot of things but I do know how to write songs, and it will get me out of these hard times. If I believe this and say it, it will happen.”Schultz’s lyrics sum up what all of SnowBall’s acts have in common. Even the headliners were once unknowns, wishing that one day their songs would be heard by thousands of people. For many of the musicians on Friday’s lineup, this dream is about to come true. Rosanna Turner is a freelance writer based in Vail. Email comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.