Volvo Snowbombing 2011

Mark Ronson (DJ Set) at Snowbombing 2011 by steve wild
Mark Ronson (DJ Set) at Snowbombing 2011 by steve wild

Overall - 9/10

It’s 4.30am and a John McEnroe look-alike approaches a festival helper. “Is there anywhere I’m guaranteed to get my willy sucked?” he asks, nonchalantly, as if he’s after the nearest toilet. “Try the Bruck N Stadl,” replies the steward, like it’s the 17th time he’s had to answer that question today, and off runs Macca, quicker than he could get around Centre Court. Welcome to Volvo Snowbombing 2011: the alpine haven where you can lose your mates, mind and inhibitions simultaneously and love every beating second of it.

Snowbombing is a brilliant non-stop, no-sleep, clusterfuck of an event. One part ski holiday, one part music festival and enough Jagermiester to keep the Austrian National Drinking Team hammered for a year, it’s the type of affair Hunter S Thompson would jump headfirst in to, except when you see a group of gingerbread men diving down the slopes, it won’t be thanks to the mescaline.

Someone getting high though is Mark Ronson (10/10) who arrives by helicopter for a DJ set some 3000 metres into the sky. With a background of snow-smattered slopes and an air of pure ice-cool indifference, he drops everything from dubstep to Dusty Springfield and declares it’s the best crowd he’s played to. Ever.

Magnetic Man (8/10) are more in-yer-face at the Racket Club – a local tennis centre that’s been transformed into a scaled-up version of a pot dealer’s front room: gloomy, smoky and littered with empty drinks vessels. Their cavernous bass bangers aren’t half bad, and ‘Perfect Stranger’ is perhaps the hottest track ever the get the karaoke treatment, but their set order lacks fluidity.

They should take some tips from Chase And Status (9/10). With huge Chemical Brothers-style graphics, special guests and game show-like ‘C’ and ‘S’ stands to hide behind, Will and Saul look more assured than ever. A dancefloor of sweaty, saucer-eyed Snowbombers are the beneficiaries as the hectic rolling jabs of ‘No Problem’ and a heavy ‘Eastern Jam’ create an avalanche of flailing limbs and raised crutches.

Those without broken bones may be frustrated with the lack of snow on the slopes but luckily Fatboy Slim (8/10) has brought some of his own. The fake flakes fall from the ceiling alongside a slew of inflatables as he attempts to moonlight as a laser eye surgeon with crisp green and white beams bounding around the Racket Club. His set is your traditional Fatboy fare: chunky beats, cheeky samples and a few of his own tracks thrown in too, but who could have guessed that he’d leave fans waltzing to ‘The Blue Danube’ at 3am? And we’re not joking.

Craig Campbell and Rufus Hound are though, with comedy festival Altitude taking over the Europahaus conference centre. They’re ulcer-inducing funny as well – Snowbombing has never been an event to take itself too seriously. That’s why cult legend Eddie The Eagle is on hand to help Bombers down the piste and Mr Motivator spends his afternoons limbering people up. But the real aerobics masterclass comes courtesy of The Prodigy (10/10) in a forest clearing. They create mayhem for what must be their smallest show in a decade. Punters scale trees, Maxim leaps from the stage and onto the bar while ‘Out Of Space’ and ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ remain as combustible and hectic as ever.

For everyone here, Volvo Snowbombing is not just a festival; it’s a way of life.