We arrived in Mayrhofen on the Sunday, wrapped in a fog of bedraggled elation. The 6am flight and the business class lounge breakfast (secured via my friends’ generous use of their air miles) of Bloody Mary’s, White Russians and a few choice reds, all on the back of 24 hours worth of shenanigans that were already a hazy memory at best, ensured that we had started proceedings as we clearly meant to continue them.
Waves of lethargy crashed against banks of excitement, but the coach ride from Salzburg airport up through the mountains saw us surrounded by such spectacular scenery that a natural sense of awe soon settled and our love affair with Snowbombing 2015 started in earnest.
We were staying in the Hotel Stefanie, a delightful, family-run spa, that is situated in Hippach, a mere 5 minute taxi ride from Mayrhofen and the main festival site. Once we had freshened up and sorted out our wristbands any sense of tiredness had been lost on the breeze. The notion of having an early night had been abandoned and we headed on over to The Racquet Club, a cavernous room usually given over to racquet sports, funnily enough, for the pre-party and Andy C.
I like my drum n bass, but I’ve never been massively into it the same way I am other genres. However, Andy C has always been one of those DJs that I’m always happy to go and see and his set here proved why that’s the case. A relentless barrage of thunderous drums and erupting bass pounded into us, mixed, as ever, with impeccable craft and guile, resulting in our collective set of limbs being flailed frantically around the dance floor. A fantastic way to get things started.
We then headed over to The Arena, a dark basement bar, to take in the latter stages of ApexApe‘s bass driven house music assault and Jackmaster‘s cleverly interwoven tapestry of good times house and brutish techno. I’m not normally one for having someone chat away on a mic during a set, but even Jackmaster’s occasional enthusiastic outbursts merely helped ramp up a vibe that was live from the off. As the darkness turned to twilight, we dragged our weary selves back to the hotel and crashed into a slumber that would see a fair few of us miss the first day of boarding. We didn’t mind though, as we had to be in fine fettle for Monday night and Taken.
Having been provided with a blindfold, a mini bottle of Jaeger and driven up the mountainside through a thickening cascade of snow, we were given a giant candle and pointed in the direction of the line of flames winding their way through the forest path towards a log cabin upon high. After waiting for those chosen few to return from an initially mobbed bar, passing the time with a couple of games of Jaeger dominoes (a nod to Juliet Fox for organising that surprising source of entertainment), we hit the dancefloor, where Hot Since ’82 tore things up with a pulsating set of vivacious house and simmering techno that was, unfortunately, cut short when the snow set in to such an extent that we had to journey back down the mountain or face being stuck there.
Back in Mayrhofen, we headed to The Raquet Club for Carl Cox‘s set, one I approached with an element of trepidation. A couple of friends had never seen him before and were desperate to do so. Cox used to be amongst my favourite DJs, back when he used to terrorise Voodoo and Bugged Out wit his three-deck techno onslaught around the turn of the century. But as the years went by, he seemed to veer away, more and more, from this path, and, after a few sets that had failed to stoke those fires, he was no longer a DJ I was too bothered about seeing (I’m sure he’ll be gutted to hear that). Within ten minutes, any such worries had been forgotten. He was on fire, storming through a rip-roaring barrage of raucous beats that were riddled with that rolling-drum, heavy percussive groove that he is so famed for. Needless to say, it was heads down, stomp on for the duration of what was a joyously hard and absorbing set.
I finally made it up the slopes on the Tuesday. However, as my last time snowboarding was close to ten years previous, and with my hangover looming large, the day’s activity would be better described as tumbling gracelessly down a slope than actual snowboarding. A restorative trip to the hotel’s spa soon alleviated a few of those self-inflicted aches and niggles, then it was off to the Arctic Disco. This didn’t get off to the best of starts when we were informed that Carl Cox had had to cancel his planned funk and soul set, something I’d been looking forward to a fair bit, confident that Cox would be digging deep and pulling out some hip-seducing gems for this. Our disappointment, though, was to be short lived.
The world fell away from us as were were taken up 6,000 feet to the majestic Ahorn. Surrounded by a tumbling wave of mountains on all sides, the advancing sunset painting them in ever-changing shades of pinks, oranges and purples, the view alone was majestic. A large, purpose built, igloo housed the revellers, whilst the fire outside provided warmth for those wishing to gaze at the expanding blanket of stars scattered across the night sky. Without question, this is one of the most magnificent places I have ever had the privilege to party with my friends. So, with the setting well and truly taken care of, what of Cox’s replacements? Step forward Dubfire and James Zabiela, both of whom delivered in spades, and then some.
Dubfire was first up and set the tone of the evening perfectly with a grin-inducing set that ebbed and flowed around a resiliently techno core. Zabiela then crafted a genre-hopping beast that flirted with tech-house, house, techno and breakbeat, all sprinkled with the cutting and splicing technical wizardry of James’ impeccable sonic manipulation. Indeed, things got so hot and sweaty in that igloo that, by the end of the night, it had started to melt! I’ll admit that I hadn’t expected much from either of these two (Again, they can join Carl Cox in the sobbing corner after that revelation), having lumped them both, for whatever reason, in with the sort of prog-house sound that bores me to tears. Both of them blew my assumptions out of the water, serving up the two best sets of the entire week. Simply sublime!
Wednesday saw us enjoy a full day on the slopes, taking advantage of that fresh dump of snow from earlier in the week. With the previous night’s cobwebs well and truly cleared (Is there a better way to do so?), I even managed to get a blue run in, though the necessity to face plant myself into a wall of snow, rather than tumble down the mountainside, was never too far away on the narrower sections. Our afternoon was finished off with a few beers at Rompa’s Reggae Shack, where the buoyant, bustling refrains of Venum Sound kept things frisky till it was time to descend for the evening’s shenanigans. We spent the vast majority of the night in Bruckenstadhl, a building that resembled those picturesque houses that litter chocolate box paintings of the mountains, and one whose speakers oozed with throbbing Berlin-style techno all week long. Both Benjamin Damage and Doc Daneeka made sure this vibe didn’t falter through two sterling sets that were as darkly enthralling as they were irresistibly banging.
A (relatively) early night meant we were up and at those slopes with the lark the next day (Well, not quite, but you know what I mean) and, emboldened by a few successful blue runs, a couple of us novices were even tempted on to a red to finish the day. As exhilarating as it was, I definitely need a bit more practice before throwing myself down one of those again! At the end of it, we were greeted by a beer at The Snow Park Terrace, accompanied by the husky, chunky house sounds of Sasse going back-to-back with Anja Schneider, helping to assuage the grumbles my body was starting to make and ready it for another night of revelry.
After another of our own pool parties at Hotel Stefanie, something that had become a regular fixture in our day-to-night transitions, we headed off to The Forest venue to catch 2 Many DJs. Much in the same way as Cox, I used to enjoy going to see the Belgium duo way back when, but had fallen out of love with them a while back. Whilst this set was nothing new, the mix of electro-fuelled classics, fresh house and techno cuts, and just out and out party bangers was the perfect blend for such a festival set and saw the assembled crowd go suitably barmy for the duration.
After some food, we made our way to Bruckenstadhl. Here, we once again made merry to the delectably dark and beguling twisted techno beats that were generously lathered all over us by the fantastically relentless trio of Konstantin Sibold, Jennifer Cardini and Henrik Schwarz, a little slice of Kreuzberg alive and well in the Austrian mountains!
A serious night of partying meant that we failed to make it back up the slopes for the final day. We didn’t mind too much though, as we rallied our tired bones and headed out to make the most of our last night. There was only going to be one destination for us, and so it was that we found ourselves amongst the hardy few, tearing up the Bruckenstadhl dancefloor one last time. With Re: You‘s sumptuously enticing set, Rodriguez Jr‘s urgent, melodic, pulsating live performance and Anja Schneider letting lose her tougher, more sinister side, the music was an assortment of formidable techno beats that kept us dancing until we could dance no more. A perfect way to end what had been a truly outstanding festival that exceeded all expectations. Consider us ‘bombers for life!