When Snowta announced its move from the Minneapolis Convention Center to The Armory just a few weeks before its 2018 iteration, several questions and concerns arose. Were tickets selling poorly? Did organizer TC Presents have a falling out with ownership at the Convention Center? Would The Armory, a typically one stage concert venue, be able to house an entire festival? While I can’t provide the answers to why the festival moved, I can answer that last question, and the answer is… sort of.
Starting things off, entry into the venue was smooth. The Armory’s inclusion of a large indoor lobby meant that very few people had to wait outside; well, except those who had to retrieve tickets from The Armory’s box office. Once you were through the metal detectors, you were brought to the main stage of the festival, housed in The Armory’s usual space. The stage felt comparable to the type of main stage production you’d see at a large festival, with massive LED walls, lights, strobes, pyro, etc.
Heading downstairs, the team at Snowta had transformed The Armory’s parking lot in order to house the second and third stages of the festival. The third stage was tucked in a corner and featured all local DJ’s. The second stage, which booked national and international acts, was at the back of the parking lot and, while visually impressive, the largest problem was the sight-lines. The fourth stage was housed on the smoking patio, which meant it was hard for me to enjoy the artists for than 15 or 20 minutes at a time due to the cold.
Overall, logistically Snowta clearly did the best they could with the limitations they were handed at The Armory. It was frustrating to see only two water coolers as refill stations for the entire festival, and The Armory’s limited concession offerings as the only food options.
The Music (Day One)
Day one I tried to explore as much of the festival as possible, so I caught fragments of most sets. I started off the night with Slippers, a Minneapolis local who brought bumping house beats to the smoking patio stage. Next was bass music newcomer Peekaboo, whose blistering trap and dubstep sounds fit perfectly on the parking lot stage, it felt like a genuine basement rave. Duo ARMNHMR had a solid selection and were technically fine, but spent too much time on the microphone. Ghastly and NGHTMRE both played the sets I was expecting from them, blazing through as much content as possible as quickly as possible. Headliner Marshmello actually surprised me a bit, taking a break from his staple saccharine sound to delve into other sub-genres like house, trap, and dubstep. After a sampling of Marshmello, I headed back downstairs to catch Eprom’s signature brand of glitchy bass and, as usual, he did not disappoint.
The Music (Day Two)
Day two had fewer overall acts that I wanted to see, but also had the act I was most excited to see out of the entire festival. I arrived a little bit later on day two, just in time for Melvv, whose future bass set was a nice breath of fresh air in the middle of a dubstep-heavy lineup. I took some time to walk around and say hi to friends, then headed upstairs to catch Chief Keef. I was ecstatic that Chief Keef was performing Finally Rich, one of his most hit-filled albums, and hearing a crowd scream along to “Love Sosa” and “I Don’t Like.” Then it was time for Snowta’s magnum opus, Skrillex. Skrillex was undoubtedly the act I was most excited to see, and he didn’t disappoint in any way possible. When you have as diverse and as memorable a catalog as Skrillex, it lends itself to a truly unforgettable live experience. The highlight of the set was hearing Skrillex’s collaboration with Utada Hikaru, “Face My Fears”. The Kingdom Hearts fan in me almost cried.
Changing locations can be like starting anew for a festival and, in a way, it did feel like Snowta was a festival in its first year. That appraisal includes all the negatives and positives attached to that situation. However, it’s clear that a lot of effort was put into making Snowta’s new home a great festival experience, and with a few tweaks, next year’s Snowta could be one of the best music festivals Minneapolis offers.