For the first time in the event’s brief history, the Snowball music festival came down from the mountain resorts and set up shop in Denver at Mile High Stadium. The three-day concert series, hosting several of today’s up-and-coming artists in a variety of EDM and hip-hop subgenres, kicked off on Friday and snowballed from a small, modest group of concert goers in the afternoon to a crazy party of hundreds by the night’s end.
As the first artist to perform of the entire event, Atlanta native heRobust may not have had a large audience to work with, but he got them going strong all the same. His meshing of hip-hop beats with big bass drops upped the levels of enthusiasm and energy in the Groove Tent, and those arriving earlier on usually made a point to stop by his set first. Shortly after, the laid-back Rose Quartz led off the Ballroom Stage’s schedule and gave crowd members a calmer alternative to heRobust’s bass beats. The Snowball Main Stage action began with Jimkata, whose indie-rock foundation with small infusions of electro captured the attentions of a fairly small yet dedicated audience that remained with them throughout their set. Lastly, the Heat Hut opened up shop just after the other sets and led off with Tropicool, the ‘good times engineer’ out of Santa Barbara who twists tropical island beats with a sort of electric disco.
Crowds were still relatively small as the next sets were beginning at each stage, but those that were there were really getting into the music being played, and the steadily increasing numbers of new folks coming through the gates were jumping right in and getting involved too. Henry Fong was the first to transition into the Groove Tent, and he quickly became the center of the festival’s attention with his progressive electro-house beats. Not too far behind him, though, were the Floozies, the duo from Lawrence, Kansas who took over the Main Stage from Jimkata. Their electric funk rock style energized the Main Stage audience into quite a dance party despite it still being broad daylight. In the meantime, the English musical experimenter Real Magic held down the Ballroom Stage for a small yet loyal crowd, as did the Bixel Boys in the Heat Hut with their R&B-inspired trap style.
With the sun going down and the crowds growing larger, Snowball started to become every bit as much about the experience and atmosphere as it was about the music. Earl Sweatshirt assumed control of the Main Stage, incorporating a heavy bass and steady beats into his rap tracks, while the Groove Tent saw GTA live up to their #DeathToGenres Twitter trend, incorporating virtually any and every musical style into their set to create their own unique sound. After sunset, the Heat Hut’s audience grew significantly with people seeking both warmth and music, which they got from the likes of Thomas Jack and Option 4. Jack, a 20-year old Aussie DJ, used his brand of ebbing and flowing music to keep audiences feeling good, while Chicago’s Option 4 displayed his own signature brand of self-created house music, refusing to simply add his touches to someone else’s work via remixing. For being quite a drastic difference in musical styles, Escort’s electric techno disco sound absolutely owned the early evening stretches of Snowball, drawing in one of the largest and most animated audiences of the night.
Heading into the homestretch of Friday night, everybody who was coming to the festival had arrived, crowds were the largest they had been all night, and they were ready to see the biggest artists put on a show. The night’s last push started in the Groove Tent with Mimosa, the Los Angeles product that drew in hundreds with his hip hop inspired beats and booming bassline. To wrap up the night on the Ballroom Stage, the indie rocker girls of Warpaint kept their own sizeable audience with their captivating beats and lyrics. Justin Jay and his deep house style influenced heavily by Daft Punk finished up the evening’s slate for the Heat Hut, which by this point was nearly full of guests looking to still enjoy music while avoiding the night’s chill.
That left only the Main Stage, who saved the best for last in Knife Party, one of the major headliners for all of Snowball. With most other stages wrapping up, almost everyone present flocked to the field in front of the Main Stage to see the Australian duo put on a show. And did they ever put on a show. Combining uptempo beats, creative buildups leading to massive bass drops, and a spectacular on-set light show, Knife Party had everybody at Mile High Park on their feet and rocking to the music. After their 90-minute set had concluded, they had left the crowd thrilled and clamoring for more. And more there would be, as this merely brought to an end the first day of the three-day long festival, with plenty more music to be heard and experiences to be had over the next two days at Snowball.