For the last week a monolithic structure has been growing out of the Rose Bowl lawn. On Saturday, the enormous apatosaurus of snow was complete and overlooked an impressively constructed main stage all in preparation for the North American debut of Shaun White’s Air + Style festival.
It was a pretty novel idea complete with two stages, a stacked lineup of musicians and a serious snowboard Big Air competition, the festival definitely stood out. Whereas most death defying festival feats are competitions in insufflation, Air + Style gave the kids something else to aspire to: get on a board and learn how to fly.
And there were definitely kids. Whole swathes of them. In fact, there was an entire section devoted to children’s activities. Even a small hill for learning how to ski. Though the PBRcade (a beer battered tent full of freeplay classic arcades) did its best to curb the older crowds attention, I definitely saw several twenty-somethings hitting the bungee trampoline.
The music lineup for day one was an eclectic mix of genres. Teenage Wrist, METZ and The Black Lips had the fast and loud bases covered. In The Valley Below and Portugal, The Man held up the sing a-long side of things.
The Black Lips
But, it didn’t really start to feel like a festival until Phantogram’s set. “I’m gonna be hitting that ramp around 9pm,” announced Sarah Barthel, “It’s gonna be fucking dope.” They played tracks from their newest record as well as all the one’s you’d expect from Eyelid Movies. All the while tiny human specks were launching into the air from the ever-present Mt Ramp for mid-competition practice.
Diplo came on next. He wore a black shirt with arabic lettering across the chest and Star of David arm bands on each sleeve. This only personified the sort of set Diplo has become known for, pulling from a seemingly desperate collection of sounds into a cohesive, drop-heavy whole. At one point, dude even played “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” like he could do no wrong, and it actually worked. All the while his visuals fluctuated from images of fruits and flags to dinosaurs and pandas. Pretty fucking all over the place.
But, there was a noticeable lack of teeth from the sound system as Diplo’s set progressed. A rousing chant of “Turn It Up!” could be heard from the middle of the crowd. The issue would only get worse.
The crowd was pumped for Kendrick Lamar’s headlining set. And how could you not be? K Dot runs the west coast right now. His newest tracks (“The Blacker the Berry” and “i”) have been whetting the appetite of fans eagerly awaiting the GKMC follow up. So when he hit the crowd there was palpable excitement.
But, the energy was short lived. From the stage Kendrick kept yelling for the sound tent to “Turn up the volume!” Nothing doing though. Lamar did his best to perform, but he is an artist first and, like Kanye, if he doesn’t feel that the music is loud enough then YOU TURN IT THE FUCK UP.
After about the 12th time asking for louder volume Kendrick yelled, “They say they gonna shut us down if we go louder, fuck that!” He performed “m.A.A.d city” one more time, the refrain, “Feels like the whole city go against me,” taking on new meaning in consideration for the Rose Bowl’s volume regulations. He ended his set at 8:15, a full 45 minutes early.
The final snowboard competition was to take place at 9, but many started heading out in disappointed long before then.
Check back in tomorrow for day two highlights and a full roundup of the festival!
Words: Ziv Biton
Photography: Wes Marsala
In The Valley Below
Portugal. The Man
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