2018 ushered in Snowbombing’s 19th instalment – an impressive feat for any festival. Uniting an expansive line-up with après-ski, Austrian culture with A-listers and emerging acts, all a good 8,497 feet above sea level.
From back-to-backs in butchers’ shops to Liam Gallagher grumbling about the snow, these are Crack Magazine’s standout highlights.
The rise of Bicep from blogging house music upstarts to main room electronic mainstays is one that deserves credit. Their gig in the colossal Racket Club confirms their further crossover into massive live act – and it’s hard to witness their immaculately produced live show tonight without taking note of the reverence with which their music is embraced by the large numbers in attendance. Watching the crowd utterly lose themselves in the big room versions of Bicep’s album tracks makes it easy to envision them going on to even bigger stages and platforms. Having released their album the right way through the ever impressive Ninja Tune last year, the success of the record and the effort that has gone into their live performances showcases an ambition that is often sorely lacking in credible electronic music arenas.
Hans the Butcher
Among Mayrhofen’s swathe of local celebrities, Hans the Butcher stands tallest (among carnivores) with his meat a staple in the Snowbombing skiers’ diet. Hans himself is quite the party-starter and those hanging around long enough in his establishment snare themselves a chance to party with the man himself. Our turn came in the form of a very light-hearted b2b with Peggy Gou and Artwork. Both of whom embraced the relative lunacy of the surroundings and delivered exactly the kind of tune spontaneity Snowbombing is famed for. For Hans, getting behind the decks to orchestrate a singalong is surely a yearly highlight and a promotional tool beyond his wildest imagination.
Mayrhofen’s Dark Corners
Mayrhofen seems to get more and more charming every year, but this year the idyllic, clean and beautiful Austrian town seemed to throw up a few more new spots and characters than normal. From retro mobile discos in hotel bars to eccentric Austrian locals, the retro charm was in full force with the residents playfully engaging with the influx of tourists. Local bar Scotland Yard proved a particularly vibey spot, its classic pub tropes and neon wilderness an attraction for many well-oiled characters. The harmonious way the town takes to the festival and stays true to traditional Austrian culinary and musical sensibilities makes for an interesting culture clash. A quick wander around the town provides a perfect experience for those who want to embrace Snowbombing and Austria’s more kitsch offerings.
Grime's New Gen vs. Old
Dizzie Rascal’s slot at The Racket Club was packed out, bringing in the hoards drawn to the career spanning hits from one of grime (and pop’s) true originals. In 2018 and with his latest album Raskit frantically scrambling for rejuvenated grime credibility, the set provided an entertaining and expected mix of old hits (I Luv U, Fix Up Look Sharp, Jezebel), and new, alongside his divisive chart pop. It’s this that inevitably draws the biggest reaction, though it continues to polarise fans of the genre, many of whom are genuinely offended by Bonkers.
There’s no such pop dilemmas for AJ Tracey at the wonderfully picturesque Forest Stage, whose early set time hinders a huge crowd. Still, by the end there’s a mosh pit and a hardcore faithful fully going for his bars. It seems the live package has been honed after an American tour with Dave, with the interplay between Tracey, his hype man and General Courts razor-sharp.
For a man so partial to a big coat, Snowbombing should make perfect sense for Liam Gallagher. Yet, when he makes it onstage on the final night of the festival, he’s looking more disgruntled than ever. “Not much fucking snow is there,” he bellows indignantly at the audience. “Well, yeah, plenty of that snow, there’s always plenty of that,” he adds when prompted by an audience member.
Such is the turnaround in Gallagher’s fortunes since the demise of his middling-at-best post-Oasis outfit Beady Eye, that headlining Snowbombing to a few thousand once again counts as an intimate gig. And it’s a serious coup for the festival considering he almost instantly sold out 40,000 tickets for his upcoming show in Finsbury Park this summer. Getting to see the Britpop beast prowling the stage up close, wearing a permanent scowl as he dishes out stinging put-downs to the audience is undeniably entertaining. The opening gambit of Rock ‘N’ Roll Star and Morning Glory feels like an epic moment more than worthy of capping off a week of unabashed fun.
There’s also notable enthusiasm for solo efforts Wall of Glass and For What It’s Worth, suggesting there’s more interest in new music from the mouthier Gallagher brother than many might expect. But Oasis were a band that always worked better in the bigger rooms, and as the show goes on there’s a sense that their songs take flight easier in front of a crowd closer to the 100,000 mark. Wonderwall provides a singalong moment capable of turning the biggest Gallagher sceptic but as he finishes up with a noticeably shorter version of Live Forever, there’s a sense people’s attentions have started to wane a little. A great effort in the coat department though. Let’s hope he did manage to find some snow.