Freeze Festival 2012 review
'A one-of-a-kind event'
28 October 2012
A hush descends over the huddle of spectators as a skier appears in the start gate, pauses briefly and then pushes off
down the slope. He disappears behind the 32m jump for a moment, then appears again 20 feet in the air, skis crossed behind
him, mid barrel-roll. For a second it seems like he’ll land it, and then with a swish of icy snow and clatter of skis,
and a sharp intake of breath from the crowd, he skids down the slope on his back and comes to a halt. It’s early evening
on a very chilly day at Freeze Festival, and VF has just watched GB ski hope James Webb crash and burn in
the Big Air head to head battles.
It’s an incongruous setting for the kind of competition you would usually find framed by snowy mountain peaks, fir trees and ski lifts. A maze off scaffolding props up the jump; and the four flumes of Battersea Power Station sit against a grey, damp and distinctly English sky in the background. Rain earlier has turned the snow an end-of-season off white. The daytime crowd are scattered thinly across the site – “I’ve been here five minutes, and I can already feel the energy,” announces Riz MC (6/10) on the deserted main stage, but one feels this is slightly optimistic. This, combined with snatches of tinny commentary over the PA, and little gaggles of staff standing around blowing on their hands, and Freeze early doors has a slightly surreal vibe that feels a little bit school fete, a little bit apocalyptic vision of festivals of the future.
Still, there’s plenty to get excited about. Now in its fourth year, this event has grown from a ski and snowboard geek-out to one of the most exciting winter festivals in the UK, with the addition of a more than credible music line up. In 2012 there are three covered stages, a number of ski themed bars (O’Neills chalet, the Après Ski), a Santa’s grotto retail area packed full of branded ski gear, and of course the all important ski jump, for which Freeze have shipped in 500 tonnes of snow. If nothing else, this is a one-of-a-kind event in an increasingly crowded post-summer market.
On the main stage, highlights include DJ EZ (9/10), who rattles through a who’s who of garage classics
in usual style, Stanton Warriors (9/10), and of course the headliners DJ Shadow (8/10) and
Public Enemy (7/10).
As dusk falls, and Freeze really starts living up to its name, the Desperado stage becomes the place to see and be seen. Boasting a crowded (and warm) dancefloor, and the Desperado skate ramp, it’s consistently busy all weekend, and the quality of the music lives up to the crowd. Major Look’s (7/10) Crystal Clear keeps a young crowd more than entertained with some very wobbly dubstep, and hyperactive accompaniment from MC Stapleton, especially when debuting new tracks 'No Home City' and drum and bass anthem-to-be 'Too Late'. The Nextmen (9/10) play this stage too, and as always tear the place up with a whistle-stop tour of classics across all genres (if you’ve never seen The Nextmen do their thing, make it a priority, DJ sets that are this much pure fun are hard to come by.) The real highlight, though, comes between sets with fillers Duke (10/10). A three piece composed of two vocalists and a guitar (and nothing else), Duke beatbox, rap and play their way through The Prodigy, Dead Prez, Punjabi MC, disco classics, current grime and a lot more, kicking out such a racket in the process that festival-goers flocking across the site towards the music can’t believe their eyes when they realise there was no DJ, and no backing track. Absolutely incredible.
By Lisa Key