Photos by Chris Taylor for Festival Squad
Written by Melissa Faulkner
5: The number of times I heard a Post Malone remix. 4: The number of times Mo Bamba was featured. 3: The number of stages constructed, in addition to The Armory’s main stage. 2: The additional inches on MadeinTYO’s 5-foot height. 1: The number of kisses I had while Skrillex took the stage to count down to 2019. 0: The number of regrets I have for attending Snowta Festival for New Year’s Eve.
As a first-time attendee of the third annual Snowta Festival, I have to imagine this was one for the books. The last-minute venue change from the Minneapolis Convention Center to The Armory came with nothing but advantages. We all received what was promised: a two-day festival with some of the biggest acts in EDM. In humble, sub-zero Minnesota.
Upon arriving on December 30, I was most interested in seeing how The Armory transformed their underground parking lot to accommodate two additional stages and a skate park. Not only was the space well-ventilated due to cold air circulation from the front doors; but the sound barrier between Stage 2 and 3 was impressive, with nothing but a plywood graffiti wall separating the two. The low ceilings in the parking lot gave off an underground Brooklyn vibe. It was almost like we were intruding on some impromptu, secret hip-hop show. I immediately felt a welcome mix of pretentious and cool.
When Middle Child took the Main Stage at 6:30, people were just beginning to trickle in from the cold. Many people had already lined up and staked claim over the perimeter railing, using the metal barrier as a reliable bump & grind partner. Mersiv was next, upping the gritty ante, and performing well past his slot time. It turned out to be purposeful due to Rich The Kid’s UTV accident. Had Rich broken a leg, I am sure he would have still performed. But a broken hand is definitely a deal breaker for a DJ, so we forgive you Rich.
Instead of changing the lineup, Snowta had each artist play overtime, something I was extremely grateful for when the torch was passed to NGHTMRE. NGHTMRE was the artist I was undoubtedly most excited to see, after hearing tales of his high-energy performance. You’d think he was playing on a bouncy house, the way his lengthy limbs covered the massive Armory stage with ease. Along with a Post Malone and Jauz cover, NGHTMRE played his latest hit LIMELIGHT, sending the crowd over the edge, while the bass from the stage directly below us added additional vibration. In fact, I’m surprised I didn’t see more people rolling on the floor for maximum effect.
After NGHTMRE, I returned to the underground basement party to see MadeinTYO. Or at least see him as best I could, given his 5 foot 2 frame. But that’s the beauty of EDM festivals, you don’t need to see to enjoy, and by the time MadeinTYO took stage, the collective energy of Snowta was…dare I say…lit. MadeinTYO’s set started a trend amongst the rest of the headliners, covering Sheck West’s Mo Bamba. And I have to say, there was something magical about 6,000 people chanting “Oh! Fuck! Shit! Bitch!” throughout the night, like some poetic sum-up of 2018. It’s still stuck in my head.
Night 1 closed with the promised Marshmello, who’s tropical light show and pyrotechnics were the highlight of the set for me. Marshmello’s set featured more oldies than goodies, remixing some 80’s classics like “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Sweet Dreams.” The only downside to a Festival inside city limits, is the mandatory cut-off time at 2:00AM sharp. Marshmello wrapped up with his radio-hit Happier; house lights were immediately up and doors were open for shuffling bodies outside into the frigid temps.
It was clear that everyone’s batteries were properly recharged on Night 2. The entire main floor was littered with people by 7:30PM. Night 2’s costumes were a little more formal given the holiday. Something I can only describe as Wook meets Elsa from Frozen. I mean that in the absolute best possible way.
Spark Master Tape was on the main stage upon arrival, with a couple of dancers painting each other with what appeared to be mud. The crowd loved it. The theme of additional dancers continued on the stage downstairs, when Germ finished his set with local dance troupe New Black City. As someone who has zero rhythm, I am completely mesmerized by dance routines.
Back upstairs I was finally able to witness Boogie T, a southern Louisiana DJ with a rowdy and loyal fanbase and even more loyal facial hair. By this time in the night, bodies were packed on the main floor like a can of sardines, while the concrete floor developed a unified heartbeat. The sound continued to evolve & mature with Ganja White Night and then Chief Keef, who appropriately sprayed champagne and lit blunts on stage. Following Chief Keef’s set was none other than Skrillex, who started his set at exactly 11:59 with a video recap countdown that brought the crowd into 2019.
The video proves that Skrillex definitely had a better year than me, but the drop of the music and displays of love amongst the group had everyone feeling like champions for the first moments of 2019. Hundreds of balloons were released from a ceiling net, and confetti launched into the crowd. Skrillex’s set picked up even more steam as the last balloon fell, with his notorious Bangarang.
There’s a lot of humanity to be found at festivals. Connections with strangers over something as simple as “I love your glasses” and then you dance together the entire night. There’s an air of kindness amongst festival-goers, a mutual understanding that we are all here to forget our problems for a night or two, and just be together. Skrillex’s closing speech touched on this very subject and sucker punched me right in the feels—the one place his light show didn’t get me. His closing remarks bled into “Cinema,” the one song I was dying to hear.
I hope the founders of Snowta continue to attract such worthy talent to the frozen tundra for this two-day festival every New Year. And I hope The Armory becomes the new permanent home for Snowta, so I can make this my regular New Year’s Eve tradition. In the word’s of Minnesota-native Atmosphere, “I’ve gotten love, I’ve gotten drunk, I’ve gotten beat up in that parking lot” – and I will return to that parking-lot turned epic concert venue time and time again for the magical Snowta Fest.