New Year’s Eve is by far my least favorite holiday. To me at least, it’s an arbitrary celebration of the passage of time that brings out all of the amateur partiers and show attendees, only to inflate prices and make transportation a nightmare. Especially in a dense city like the DownBeats’ headquarters of Chicago, it is often more laborious than fun for me to go out. Chicago always has events going on for the holiday so there is inevitably an option, and Reaction is a great one but going all the way to Rosemont is not easy to do unless I wanted to drive sober (and let’s be honest, who wants to be the designated driver on New Year’s Eve?).
So when I heard about the inaugural year of Snowta, a one-day mini-festival just a few hours away in Minneapolis, I was intrigued. Not only was this festival downtown at the convention center and connected to the skyway, but tickets were reasonably priced and the lineup looked solid with one of my favorite acts, Big Gigantic, headlining. Although there were some minor hiccups in logistics that the organizers could improve upon, this was a solid festival for a first outing and hopefully a new staple for Midwest New Year’s show options.
Location, Accessibility, and Set Up
Snowta was located inside the Minneapolis Convention Center right downtown, a location that is conveniently connected to the Minneapolis Skyway so that attendees could park, go to restaurant, or walk over from residences as I was fortunate to do without having to step out into the cold. The city was blessed with some decent temperatures by their standards, but had it been closer to zero as is typical of this time of year that could have literally saved some lives. Getting in was quick when I arrived at 10 pm, and the lines were all inside so no one was left out in the cold.
The festival also brought in some cool entertainment that wasn’t music related, including a Ferris Wheel, giant slide, and skateboard halfpipe that had skaters performing demos throughout the evening. I like this trend in festivals and enjoyed the organizers adding that extra flair.
Getting around was easy as well, with the stages divided up into different major rooms in the convention centers. The team also installed new lighting all over the center to create a very interesting lighting dynamic in the domed rooms.The stage setups were good although not over the top, but for a first year I was pleased. My only complaint on the overall setup was the bathroom at the main stage. This being a convention center I doubt they could have brought in port-a-potties, and due to the existing layout they had to repurpose the main women’s bathroom into one side being for men, and the other for women. Never before have I stood in such a long line for a bathroom while women breezed by the men on the other side. Simply put men need urinals, and a bathroom full of stalls created a bad logjam. This is a minor gripe and I was fine, but it looked like a couple of other guys in line were about to explode.
Weather didn’t affect the festival with it all being inside, obviously a necessity in Minnesota winter. With no snow and a temperature in the high 20s, all in all I would call this a good December 31st in Minneapolis. The festival was named after the state’s nickname of Minne-snowta, and trust me that euphemism doesn’t come from nowhere!
Crowd & Atmosphere
Given the style of music being more bass and trap heavy the crowd was expectedly a little bit on the younger side and much more of the hippie free spirit variety. This being Minnesota though, the politeness was through the roof and everyone was having a great time. Tie die and hoops abounded, but the “Minnesota nice” definitely showed through.
My group did a dinner beforehand so we arrived at 10 pm, and thus only focused on three main acts that we wanted to see. After getting a lay of the land first we checked out Infected Mushroom on the second stage, and I was really impressed by a group that I have seen on lineups for years but never actually seen in person. I would describe their sound as melodic dubstep meets rock and roll, and while I normally shy away from acts like Excision and Datsik they had a smoother sound that I thoroughly enjoyed. They’ve got a few spots on my Spotify playlists now for sure. The main act was Big Gigantic and always they did not disappoint. I do feel slightly tainted on Big G after seeing them at Red Rocks in Denver this summer, which is hard to top, but they played a solid variety of their old stuff while playing a lot of their new album Brighter Future. I am personally a huge fan of the new album so I was not disappointed by this at all. After this we caught a few songs of Tipper’s set before closing out the night with Waka Flacka Flame dropping some rhymes before calling it a night.
Music – 4.1 out of 5
I would have liked to have seen a bit more diversity in the genres but for the dub/bass/trap vibe this was a tough lineup to beat.
Experience – 4.5 out of 5
The location and setup were great, and other than the bathroom situation I had a great time, could freely move around, and found it easy to see any of the artists performing.
Value – 3.7 out of 5
With VIP tickets going for close to $150 towards the end of sales I felt it was a little on the pricier side for a one day event, and cocktails and tall boys were $9.25+ which is much more than I expected from a Minneapolis show. This was New Year’s Even though, so inflation is to be somewhat expected.
Overall – 4.1 out of 5
If you want some bass in your life on New Year’s Eve and are close to Minneapolis, definitely keep Snowta in mind for next year. Congratulations to the TC Events team on a great first year, Happy 2017 everyone and we’ll see you out on a dance floor soon!