With the help of Bassnectar, GRiZ, Zeds Dead and a plethora of other talented producers, Minus Zero Festival on Vermont’s Stratton Mountain tiptoed it’s way into the festival circuit on April 7th and 8th and left a massive mark. Bassheads from all over the northeast gathered to transform a quaint ski village into a bass filled winter wonderland. Hundreds packed into the village decked out in their warmest ski jackets, fuzzy animal onesies and pashminas fully prepared to ski, snowboard and congregate around a single stage just below the mountain’s peak.
Basically, it’s safe to say Minus Zero just changed everything we thought we knew about music festivals.
What was it that originally lead the masses to believe festivals are best suited for green open fields? The most thrilling aspect of Minus Zero was it’s frozen, breath taking location. There’s no exaggeration in saying the main stage was placed delicately below a snow covered mountaintop. The location brought it’s own special kind of magic to the venue. Brightside clearly agreed. During his set he called out over hypnotic bass “Yo this place feels magical as fuck. It’s not just me, right?”
No, it definitely was not just him. It’s not every festival that gives you the opportunity to let cathartic sound waves and a full blown blizzard wash over you simultaneously.
The ski lodge across from the stage provided refuge from the cold, a place to eat, drink and meet up with friends we’d lost in the crowd. During performances brave festival-goers stood on the pillars of the lodge’s balcony dancing and attempting to get a better view of the stage.
Perhaps the most special musical moment of Minus Zero was during Zeds Dead. The crowd fought the blizzard to stay outside and enjoy a mixture of weird wobbles and trap tunes. An added bonus was looking up at the multitude of lasers reflecting off of the snow. They gave the illusion of multicolored glitter falling from the sky. Towards the end of their set, Zeds Dead unleashed one of their most loved tunes, “Collapse”, and a Nirvana remix of “Lithium” that had the entire crowd singing along.
On day two both YOOKiE and Brightside tested some brand new material for the crowd. Both sets were upbeat yet heavy at times. They provided all you could possibly want to warm up for some GRiZNectar maddness.
GRiZ took the stage in his typical fashion. He walked on accompanied by his right hand man, Muzzy Bearr, thanked some friendly strangers for lending him weed and delivered an hour and a half of sweet, sweet funk mashed up with gnarly dub. This was a GRiZ set that left you walking out of the venue saying to yourself “He’s just one of those artists who gets better and better each time you see them play”.
The set was packed with favorites off his newest album, “Good Times Roll”, “PS GFY” and “My Friends And I”. It also featured sprawling back and forth saxophone/guitar jam sessions between GRiZ and Muzzy- an extra treat for an already incredibly sweet set.
If you follow GRiZ on social media, you know he’s quite open about his political views. In light of last weekend’s global news he decided to bring a dose of reality to his performance. During the middle of his set the music stopped and a voice sounded, “HEY TRUMP. FUCK YOU”
Images of blimps dropping bombs filled with exploding hearts and GRiZ’s famous “love is love” visual flashed on the LED screens surrounding the artists. The funk ensued immediately after. We were gifted a dubstep remix of “Funkytown” and a sample of new Kendrick Lamar.
As his set wound down, the tension only a looming Bassnectar set could bring was heavy in the air.
The iconic bassdrop laptops were set up on stage and shouts came from the crowd as we huddled under the full moon. Anxious excitement bubbled in the pit of our stomachs as Ashton walked out, bundled up in a hooded jacket ready to bring the heat to Vermont.
The set was full of slow, sultry moments that made you want to hold someone close. But these moments didn’t last long. Attendees were quickly brought back into bass driven headbanging. He didn’t play any rare gems or specific songs off his latest album, but rather many unidentifiable remixes with a consistent trap/hip-hop theme throughout the set. Overall, it was a delightfully different side of Bassnectar. (Although he is constantly showing fans how his productions and live sets are ever-changing.)
While walking around the ski village you were bound to witness countless warm reunions between friends. In fact, the entire community of Stratton Mountain banned together to ensure Minus Zero Festival guests enjoyed their stay. One particular gentleman working a stand to the right side of the stage was half-dancing/ half-head banging while serving up delicious tacos with a smile. We were all just thankful to be at our intimate celebration up in the mountains.
All in all, we highly recommend Minus Zero Festival to those who are seeking an entirely new way to experience live music. Next year when festival season rolls around you’ll want to be sure to mark your calendars. Minus Zero may be a relatively new festival but the production staff is already completely in tune with what festival goers are looking for.
Photos contributed by Natasha Grayson.