Forget muddy fields: in Austria the festivals come with an eclectic line-up, beautiful scenery and a good dose of après ski. Mayrhofen, Sunday, March 29- Friday, April 3
Snow, sunshine and ski slopes: not things one would necessarily associate with festivals, but then Snowbombing ain’t most festivals. Ten years old this year, it’s a week-long, Brit-populated affair involving falling down mountains with fibreglass attached to one’s feet by day and an, er, après-ski that stretches long into the night and features a fantastically varied array of acts and venues. One minute you’re watching Mr Hudson singing ‘Too Late Too Late’ on the edge of a cliff, the next Kissy Sell Out in a converted tennis court. Then you see Shingai from Noisettes belting out ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ on Guitar Hero in a hotel bar, shortly after a set from Heartbreak and a few hours before DJ sets from Grandmaster Flash and a typically crowd-pleasing affair from Zane Lowe in a nightclub.
There’s a good real guitar hero presence, too, although some fare better than others in front of a crowd in truth focused on raving rather than rocking. Ladyhawke turns heads with what might just be the most convincing set of her career thus far, Red Light Company only make people move with their cover of ‘Paper Planes’, while Jon McClure has brought along both Mongrel and Reverend And The Makers. The former turn suffers from an early billing and a depleted crowd, but the latter provide a genuine moment with an incendiary ‘Heavyweight Champion Of The World’. Most disappointing are The View, who last a mere two songs with Kyle singing, before bassist Kieren takes over vocal duties for ‘Skag Trendy’ and then ‘One Off Pretender’.
Kyle slumps off ill, reappearing at the bar the next night complaining of throat trouble. A shame, as of all the songs capable of winning over the revellers, ‘Superstar Tradesman’ and ‘Wasted Little DJs’ would’ve been two of them.It’s left instead to Biffy Clyro, back in action after Marmaduke Duke duties, to show how to approach an away crowd such as this. Simon Neil and co blast through a 13-song set that begins with ‘Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies’, ends with ‘Mountains’ and eschews their slower moments (‘Machines’ excepted) in favour of unrelenting, million-mile-an-hour riffage.
They barely stop for breath, and thus don’t allow the ever-growing masses to even think about whether they’re into it or not. Bang, bang, bang… gone. Business taken care of in an emphatic fashion. Highlight of the week by a snow-covered country mile. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got some mountains of our own to fall down…