Newcomer to the U.S. festival circuit, Air + Style, has set a lofty goal for itself. While the snowboarding competition and music festival hybrid was started in 1993 in Innsbruck, Austria, this was just the second year for the fest in Los Angeles. Boasting a lineup of 24 of the world’s top snowboarders and a lineup of some of the biggest names in music, Air + Style also claims to infuse art and technology to create a fully interactive experience. After a rocky first year in which it was rained out and food options were lacking, the festival stepped up its game in a big way, moving from the Rose Bowl to Expo Park, bringing in food trucks and lucking out with beautiful 80 degree weather. (Granted, they may not have as much to do with the weather as the rest.)
Though they did improve immensely from the past year, it’s still quite apparent that this is still a new festival. While they clearly have the star power on the snow and on the stage, there's still a little left to be desired in the way of art and technology given that’s one of the fest’s selling points. In a place like L.A., there are endless possibilities to the artists and technology that can be displayed. However, those are just minor grievances that can be easily overlooked as the main goal of the festival is to bring entertainment and snowboarding to an audience who would otherwise miss out on it.
All together the 24 competing snowboarders have a pretty impressive list of achievements. There are several world champions, Olympic medalists and X Game medalists among the lot of them. Needless to say spectators were treated to quite a show as they competed. Over the two days the 24 competitors were whittled down to a top 16, which was then cut down to a top eight and then a final four. With crazy names like stalefish, Japan air, frontside cork 1440, onlookers did not necessarily need to understand the snowboard language to understand that what these guys were doing was an amazing feat of daring and athleticism.
When attendees weren’t enthralled by the battles ongoing at the ramp, they were treated to amazing performance by the likes of J. Cole, Haim, Rudimental, Kaskade, Travis Barker, All Time Low and more. Production value was not skimped on as the sound quality and lighting for all performances was high caliber, much like the performances themselves. Even if the festival just focused on music, it would have done well as every artist put on a show that would make any fan feel as if they were at one of the artist’s concerts as opposed to an outdoor festival. It’s easy for there to be a disconnect between audience and musician during huge festivals, yet the performers at Air + Style overcame it easily. There’s a reason they’re such big names, after all.
While still working on finding its bearings--and making snow work in not so snow friendly L.A.--Air + Style could very well soon prove itself worthy of being a destination during festival season. It very well could also pave the way for more big festivals in the same vein bringing extreme sports and music to areas that may not necessarily have the opportunity to enjoy them outside of a television screen.
Anyone who wasn't able to attend the festival can catch video footage exclusively on mobile through go90, which is an app that can be downloaded via App Store or Google Play.
Photos and text by Victoria Patneaude
*Disclaimer: The words expressed in photo blog reviews do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Music Connection Magazine.