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Air + Style 2017 – Exposition Park – Los Angeles, CA

There has been both snow and rain in California this year and I got to see it light up this year at Air + Style (co. Shaun White).

With a sixteen-story ramp built on site and world class snowboarders competing on it all day, Air + Style was one for the books. The ramp was covered in 600 tons of ice blocks shredded into snow and it was so, so pretty. Passersby outside would stop and take photos of the never-before-seen ramp.

I’ve been to enough festivals to know a good one when I see one, and this one was really good. The athletics and music played each other very well.

Upon arrival, the first thing I noticed was that there was practically no line to get in. Not because there wasn’t anyone there, but because the entry was organized very efficiently. I arrived 30 minutes after doors opened and was expecting the usual lengthy-double-TSA-approved-patdown that is always done before entering festivals, but this one was fast and easy. (We need more of that type of organization with big events like those.) In fact, I don’t think I stood in line for anything except the free popcorn booth. All entrances ran smoothly–the festival, the bathrooms, the beer gardens. Organization goals.

The first thing I noticed inside the festival was the huge screen set-up they had in between the two stages. The screen had a front camera that continuously took photos throughout the day and posted them on Air + Style’s social media as well as on an animated collage located behind the screen. Any other time I walked past that screen there were always a group of girls overthinking their angles way too much. It was really fun though because people would jump in and ruin everyone’s photos. The whole festival was full of little gimmicks like this one. There were small skateboarding and snowboarding ramps set up where people could come and have a professional snowboarder help them learn the basics. Everyone fell, it was great.

Saturday saw a lot of people arrive really early. People anxiously awaited the festival all month and got there as early as parking and LA traffic allowed. By mid-day, the park was filled with people of all ages, running around from stage to stage following the sound waves. There were beer gardens set up for us minor alcoholics and enough vendor windows to help expedite the buzz. Stoli Vodka was available and their promotions worked because I really liked it. (Mix it with cranberry juice for a fun one). As the evening began to set, the air became increasingly chilly with moments of sprinkling rain. However, this didn’t stop the large crowd of excited people running and dancing from stage to stage… or drink to drink.

Not to sound like the snob that I’m about to be, but I’m a big sound person. I internally judge a live event based on their sound a lot. Can I understand what the artist is saying in between songs? Do the instruments contradict each other in volume? Does the sound carry outward or upward?

Having said this, it’s absolutely no doubt that Air + Style had some of the best sound engineers on set. From The Shelters (alt.rock, Los Angeles), to Atmosphere (hip hop duo, Minneapolis), into Flume (dance/electronica, Australia), and everyone in between, the sound carried outward in the clearest of ways. It was obvious that the Air + Style crew was focused on the music just as much as the sports, and as fans, we appreciate that a lot.

I arrived at 2pm the following day to a… uhm, obvious sign that most people had woken up hungover. Everyone that arrived along the same time as me, needed another drink to kickstart the day, and everyone else had apparently slept in. This didn’t last long though. By the time I got my veggie pizza slice and my new favorite cheese popcorn, the park was more than half full. The Air + Style crew were running around interviewing people about their thoughts and excitement toward the day’s artists. This was really fun because, who doesn’t want to be interviewed and have a moment to shine?

Sunday’s weather was a little meaner to us. We had a little more rain later in the evening and were forced to bring out our ponchos… that is, unless you had enough drinks to feel warm from the inside out. The rain didn’t last though, and it didn’t stop the artists or athletes from performing. It just made us dance heavier in the mud.

The sound was perfect again on Sunday and clear enough to allow us to sing along to all our favorite TV on the Radio songs while standing in line to meet Shaun White.

Yep, Shaun White in the flesh, and my goodness, he’s the most handsome man. I thought I had myself well-collected until I actually saw him. He had a meet & greet set up for his fans and the fans didn’t stop coming (*insert rated R joke here*).

YG got the whole crowd jumping by early night. I was standing in the media area with a large amount of families around me hugging their little ones. Little did they know…

Among some of my favorite things screamed out in a perfect crisp sound through YG’s microphone were “YG said you can say ‘n*gga.’ It’s okay to say ‘n*gga,’ I’m telling you now, don’t be afraid,” as well as “When I say ladies, you say ‘Wassssuppp papi.’” He also asked the girls on shoulders to raise their shirts because “it’s not a YG show without any titties girl.” My favorite was when he said “When this next song starts, I want this place to turn into a strip club”, where I turned around to a dad saying “This is disgusting” while covering his little ones ears and standing next to his dancing wife.

It was great. YG was great.

Oh, and he brought Migos out. No big deal.

The weekends snowboarding winners were:

  1. Max Parrot
  2. Seppe Smits
  3. Marcus Kleveland

And because this was the last Air + Stye tour stop, the overall champion winners were announced as well:

  1. Marcus Kleveland
  2. Seb Toots
  3. Max Parrot

Definitely catch me at next year’s Air + Style, and if I’m not reporting, I’ll be emptying out the Stoli Vodka bottles.

All photos by Ruben Vaca

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