It’s been a long and trying journey to finally make it to my promised land. After two years in grad school in Massachusetts and an exhilarating summer that took me through California, Oregon, New York, Colorado, and Utah – which included, but was not limited to, fulfilling stops at Lightning in a Bottle, Raindance, The Bounce, Re:Generation, The Big Up, the STS9 and Phish runs in Colorado, Earthdance, and two months in the Bay Area – I am more than ready to live a comparatively quiet life this winter on the California side of Lake Tahoe. It’s been a long time coming to be done with school and thus able to site myself in a location that can fully cater to my obsession with skiing.
As enthralling as the potential is for shredding in these parts, the season thus far has been a total dud. With only 2 feet, absolute max, of snowfall from October through the holiday season, it’s starting to show in the collective atmosphere of the place. Not that people in Tahoe don’t know what to do when there’s no snow on the ground, but by late December, people are straight-up just used to being able to shred the fluff on their favorite mountain.
Amid the frustration being brought about by Mother Nature’s lackluster performance, this New Years was more than ever a time for the mountain folk of Northern California to let their pent-up 2011 energy loose and ring in the significant calendrical year of 2012. Akin to many like-minded individuals in the region, I split my time between the inaugural SnowGlobe Music Festival in South Lake Tahoe on December 29th and 30th and the 5th Annual Black and White Superball on NYE at the Cal Neva Casino in Crystal Bay, Nevada, on the northern side of The Lake.
Although I didn’t like the looks of the entirety of the SnowGlobe line-up, there were some solid parts that made the event absolutely mandatory to attend; most notably: Tipper, Heyoka, emancipator, Phutureprimitive, and Blockhead. Unfortunately, Phutureprimitive and emancipator played on NYE, so I missed those sets, and Blockhead played the first set of the weekend, so I also missed that. Irresponsible festival planning on my part? Absolutely. But I certainly made the most of it.
In general, two festivals were going on at SnowGlobe: the older, more mature, and undoubtedly headier scene could be found in the Sierra and Igloo Tents, and the younger, noobish masses, complete with bounteous amounts of wasteful disposable glow-sticks, was ever-present for the headliners at the SnowGlobe Main Stage.
I couldn’t get my act together in time to catch Blockhead, Stephan Jacobs, or Russ Liquid during the mid-afternoon hours on Thursday, 12/29. So despite the copious amounts of champagne consumed late-night in the hot tub Thursday night at my friends’ cabin in South Lake, we all made damn sure we got our asses back to the venue on the Lake Tahoe Community College campus by 3:45 on Friday for Tipper‘s set.
Dave Tipper did not manage to disappoint me at any of his performances that I’ve been lucky enough to witness this year, namely Raindance, The Bounce, The Big Up, and Earthdance.. and the pattern continued with his afternoon performance at SnowGlobe.
Due to the time of the set, me and many other die-hard Tipper fans figured that he would be spinning downtempo. Illuminated by red, pink, orange, blue, and purple lights and decorations constructed by SF-based artist/live painter/psychedelic warrior, Jeremiah Allen Welch, the Sierra Tent was, however, hardly downtempo. Slow but energetic descents led to circus-like explosions, as alien gurgles shook the ground and vibrated our souls. An auditory parallel universe unravelled before our ears amid the robotic knob twisting-and-turning of one of the pre-eminent electronic music geniuses of our time.
This auditory ecstasy reminded me why I always make it to Tipper Time, no matter how inconvenient it may be in the grand scheme of life. With a slow motion keta-close to end the set, all of us in attendance were mind-blown. My friend Algae was nearly speechless when I asked her what she thought of the set, as she exclaimed, “I’m very bad at good vocabulary.” A new friend, who got there late, definitively but sadly declared that he had just experienced “the best 8 minutes of [his] life.”
After the Tipper set, I kicked it in the artist tent and admired the work done by all of the amazingly talented visual artists in attendance, such as Jeremiah Allen Welch (Left), Reven Jastrebski, Ashely Foreman, and Clay Chollar of Constant Creation (Below, Right), who brought an uber-popular interactive visualizer station and spray-painting setup.
Two ladies from Reno, whose names I unfortunately neglected to obtain, were going to town on the same piece of wood board throughout the weekend (Below), and also coincidentally gave me a stellar recommendation at one of the organic food vendors Friday night.
Next up on the SnowGlobe Stage was the aging LA-based hip-hop trio, Dilated Peoples, who put on an impressive performance to keep the people movin’ and groovin’ before yet more electronic musical goodness. Their line, “take Tahoe by night and LA by day,” pretty much summed up their set for me. I would have stayed at the Dilated Peoples set for longer and really felt out their performance, but Heyoka‘s set over in the Igloo Tent started just fifteen minutes after Dilated Peoples’ began, and I simply had to leave.
SF-based producer Andrei Olenev, AKA Heyoka, never fails to impress with his unique brand of psychedelic glitch-step, and this set was no exception. The Igloo Tent morphed into a fractalized wobble fairyland, complete with a Sonic the Hedgehog on mushrooms segment that brought me flashbacks from God-knows-when-or-where. Overall, the set was incredibly solid, except for an abrupt ending and mediocre lighting throughout.
Despite the worthy highlights of SnowGlobe, I honestly wasn’t all that impressed with the event. It was overly commercialized, which manifested in a pill-popper crowd that was saturated with glow stick toting young’ns. While this vibe was to be expected, given that Pretty Lights, Bassnectar, and Glitch Mob were headlining, the entire “festival” was condensed onto the Lake Tahoe Community College turf football field and the adjacent asphalt parking lot. There was absolutely no parking anywhere surrounding the venue, unless you wanted to walk a mile and a half down the road, risking getting hit by a brisk-moving motorist on the dark streets. Although a water refill station was present, they made you pay 5 bucks for unlimited refills of your own reusable bottle all weekend, or 10 bucks for a small reusable SnowGlobe bottle with unlimited refills. While not a bad deal if you wanted a souvenir bottle, for someone like myself that brings my metal bottle everywhere, paying $5 to wait in an obnoxiously long line every time you want some H20 just ain’t cool.
Maybe it was just me, and someone correct me if I’m wrong, but on Thursday, I just couldn’t seem to find any decent music all night, with the possible exception of Pretty Lights. Although I’m not quite as into his music as I used to be, Derek Vincent Smith does always throw down a solid set of invigorating beats, and his headlining set on Thursday night certainly fit that bill. Earlier in the evening, Antiserum consisted of excessively electronic-sounding house beat build-ups that sloppily erupted into werewolf-esque dub noises. It was so bone-shaking, in such the wrong way, that I had no choice but to walk away. Big Gigantic, although highly talented and capable of throwing the fuck down, seemed to feed off the lame energy of the crowd. They played an exceedingly dubby and poppy set, complete with a Wiz Khalifa remix that got the Ecstasy babies jumpin’ and jivin’, and that couldn’t keep me far enough from the speakers.
After the Tipper>Dilated Peoples>Heyoka segment on Friday, I stayed long enough to give Bassnectar ample opportunity to draw me in and prevent me from leaving early; but he simply did not do it for me. Although he did throw down one Mesmerizing the Ultra track that inspired my body to get down like at a Bassnectar show of old, the set all-too-quickly turned to anti-symphonic dubstep and a NastyNasty remix that wasn’t impressive in the least. Along with some friends, I made the decision to leave early, get home, and rest up for NYE at the 5th Annual Black and White Superball, which I had a feeling was going to be the 2012 New Years throwdown of gangster proportions. I did not regret my decision…
The party was co-produced by two top production companies in the Lake Tahoe/Reno area. One of these companies is The Bounce, the same group of on-point sound and art-focused event organizers that produced the intimate but certainly bouncin’ festival of the same namesake this past June in Belden, CA. The other company is Fresh Bakin’. Although this is the first event of theirs that I have had the pleasure of attending, I’ve known about them for quite some time for booking some of the best established, up-and-coming, and local artists throughout the Lake Tahoe region.
Like SnowGlobe, the Black and White Superball had three stages. Unlike SnowGlobe, however, each stage was exponentially more impressive in regard to music and decor. The historic Frank Sinatra Celebrity ShowRoom featured a high fidelity PK sound system with Double D and RageStage infrastructure, and a super tight mushroom tree design. Featured acts were SF bass priestess DJ Laura, Santa Cruz dub wizard Minnesota (Below), and Detroit-based glitch hop/dubstep producer GRiZ.
The Bounce Hall in the Indian Room had the same honeycomb stage design from the main stage at The Bounce Festival, which is permanently imprinted in my brain because of Tipper‘s flawless Saturday night set there (Below, Right).
The Indian Room, which is half in California and half in Nevada, featured often-goofy and cinematic, but always proper, electronic music and diverse live bands. The highlight for me was the five-piece funky, bluesy, New Orleans-style ska band, Keyzer Soze (Below), whose set was from 1:15AM to 2:45AM and seemed to say, “Alright, 2012 is new, exciting, and unpredictable – but let’s keep it classy.”
Moseying from the soulful and instrumental Keyzer Soze set to the dark dirty electronic downtempo that was the Minnesota set in the Frank Sinatra Celebrity Show Room was by far my favorite musical transition of the night.
The lobby of the hotel, dubbed “The Super Ballroom in the CalNeva,” transformed into a badass black-and-white themed electronic dance hall that was straight BUMPIN’ throughout the night with the likes of DC-based funkified hip-hop group Fort Knox Five, and local producer CHANGO. The room was graced with the Soulstice Sound Meyer system, the same Earth-shaker used for the weekend-long beach party at The Bounce Festival.
All in all, while SnowGlobe certainly left something to be desired, it was well executed for a first-year event, and let me properly prepare myself for NYE. With the collective enthusiasm to ring in all of 2012’s literal and figurative astronomical implications with supreme style and swagger, the 5th Annual Black and White Superball was undoubtedly the most proper gathering I have attended since the Sound Tribe run at Red Rocks in August.
Let it be known that The Bounce and Fresh Bakin’ know what the fuck is up in our evolving world, and most definitely throw parties not to be missed, should you ever find yourself in or near the mountains of Northern California.
In Lak’ech (in 20-12 and beyond),