Geoff MintzDaily CorrespondentVAIL CO, Colorado

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March 3, 2011
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Snow Ball Music Festival in Avon features Flaming Lips

Ten thousand people or more will descend on the Vail Valley this weekend for the Snow Ball Music Festival. No one can say for sure exactly what is going to transpire at the inaugural event, except that Avon is about to throw a huge party, the likes of which haven't been seen within these valley walls.With 45 acts billed for the weekend's festival, navigating your way through the lineup can be an overwhelming undertaking, even for the astute festivalgoer. There are a wide variety of genres and styles represented at the Snow Ball. But clearly, a lot of the acts will fall under the electronic umbrella, along with a healthy dose of indie-rock groups. You are also likely to come across artists of reggae, hip-hop and funk persuasions - there's a bit of everything this weekend.If you're planning to attend, you likely have an affinity for at least one of the three headliners - Pretty Lights, Bassnectar and The Flaming Lips, which are good representations of what you'll see."We definitely wanted to make it as fun as possible - progressive and tasteful," said Snow Ball partner Latane Hughes. "We are thrilled to bring in artists that are really ahead of the curve. We were thinking about this in a long-term way, not just trying to sell tickets. The idea is to generally challenge the way people think about music festivals."

Friday's headliner Pretty Lights is made up of ultra-versatile party beats that fill venues with energy and emotion. It is certainly electronic in nature, but it's more "down-tempo" and groovy compared to some of the other acts this weekend.If you're into this breed of more tranquil electronic music, you'll probably also dig Mansions On The Moon on Friday and both LOTUS and Big Gigantic on Saturday. These artists have a knack for incorporating jazzy and poppy elements in with occasional heavy beats.Also on the scene is a heavier, dubstep variety of electronic music. Bassnectar Saturday night is the headliner most likely to knock over large game animals passing through Nottingham Park. If you're a fan of that type of "wampage," also check out Diplo on Friday, SAVOY on Saturday and EOTO on Sunday for a similar experience.Finally, the festival will wrap up Sunday with the much less intense indie-rockers, The Flaming Lips. No heavy electronic elements and crazy bass within this group - it's the type of music more suited for a Prius commercial. If this is more your scene, don't miss Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros on Friday, Local Natives on Saturday and Portugal. The Man on Sunday."We certainly wanted diversity. Diversity was paramount to building the lineup," said the festival's co-founder Chad Donnelly. "We wanted a variety of flavors, but the one thing that was absolutely essential was the element of the live performance. There are plenty of acts out there that don't necessarily bring that energy they convey over the radio and in the studio onto the stage. All of the artists we selected bring an absolutely incredible live performance."

While it is technically possible to see at least a portion of all 45 acts, it's highly unlikely you will because there will be two or three shows happening at any given moment. So you're going to have to make some decisions.The Snow Ball has one of the most progressive Web sites in the music festival business. The schedule planner is a cool feature that allows you to view the roster for each day, listen to every artist, create a customized game plan and share your expected musical route via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.You will encounter three different stages at Snow Ball. There will be an outdoor Main Stage, which faces east - the audience faces west for a classic down-valley sunset. Complete with a huge light rig that had to be approved by the FAA (no joke), the Main Stage is where you'll find the headlining acts.There will also be a 2,000-person Groove Tent, which is not only a great place to catch artists like SAVOY, Diplo and EOTO, but also a great place to warm up if the cold gets the best of you. Also a great place to warm up and listen to music, the 200-person-capacity Heat Hut will host emerging artists. Food, hot chocolate and drinks will be available on Lake Road at the east end of the venue.

Avon was on a shortlist of mountain communities considered for Snow Ball."I love the location - the proximity to Denver and the Front Range," Donnelly said. "There are more affordable lodging options in Avon than some of the other surrounding mountain communities. And also it's the best skiing and snowboarding in Colorado, so it was an easy choice."The town of Avon has been just phenomenal to work with throughout the entire process," Donnelly continued.Organizers expect a considerate, well-behaved crowd in the spirit of other successful outdoor festivals, where buffoonery and littering are discouraged, while respect for police, the local community and fellow concertgoers is encouraged."It's really starting to sink in that it's here," Donnelly said. "It's been a little over a year in the making, so to see it all come together is really surreal. It's a dream come true for us."E-mail comments about this story to cschnell@vaildaily.com.


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The Summit Daily Updated Mar 3, 2011 12:56PM Published Mar 3, 2011 12:51PM Copyright 2011 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.