Hot off the plane from Pyeongchang, Shaun White definitely can’t be accused of wasting any time post-Olympics. Upon touching down in LA, the three-time Snowboarding Halfpipe gold medalist hit the ground running overseeing preparations for Air + Style which under his tutelage has morphed into a multi-continental music, snowboarding, and skateboarding fest, the latter of which is a new addition to the roster following the IOC’s announcement that skateboarding would be added to the summer Olympics in 2020 (White himself is also avid skateboarder who has competed and medaled in both the Summer and Winter X Games).

Cut Snake’s smooth, tech house grooves and a series of food trucks were the first thing to welcome me to the venue which is divided into a Summer side and a Winter side both having eponymous stages along with corresponding snow and skate parks, respectively. The Australian duo’s languid, summery sounds provided a nice contrast to the ominous storm clouds overhead. Continuing Cut Snake’s theme of seductiveness, Mura Masa‘s sensual alt R&B filled the winter stage as the last rays of sun dipped below the horizon.

LAMB favorite Cut Copy was next up on the summer stage. Although the storm clouds above brought down a freak torrent of rain during their set, the crowd didn’t seem to notice or care as they were seemingly too busy shouting “With hearts on fire I reach out to you tonight!” You can lump me in with them.

After sampling little bits of Cashmere Cat, I decided to forgo the second half of the set to catch the Snow Finals which featured surprise appearances from decorated Olympians Chloe Kim, Red Gerard, and Kyle Mack, the latter of whom was competing.

Day 1 concluded with a literal bang from big room house maestro Zedd who brought all the big guns from a production standpoint. Fog machines, flamethrowers, and fireworks battered the senses in every direction which made for an enjoyable, albeit musically predictable, experience.

With the storm clouds passed us, Day 2 began on a more temperate note. Rising R&B star Tinashe took to the stage and mesmerized with her bangin’ dance moves and sultry vocals. Although the comparisons to Aaliyah are not entirely without merit, Tinashe is very much a force of her own and one to be reckoned with.

Continuing the theme of girl power (it was just International Women’s Day, after all), Sarah Barthel cast her own captivating spell on the winter stage along with Phantogram co-pilot Josh Carter. In between the breathy vocals of “Mouthful of Diamonds” and the grinding blare of “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore,” Barthel opened up to the audience about her sister’s suicide two years ago, “It’s okay to not feel okay,” she concluded before dedicating “When I’m Small” to her sister’s memory.

The breezy sounds of Washed Out paired perfectly with the skateboarders  practicing jaw-dropping stunts for the Skate Finals event. Future funk maestro GRiZ is no stranger to LAMB love, but his Air + Style set was on another level. In advance of his full live band show, the saxophone-touting producer added a guitarist to the mix which, paired with even grander visuals, made for a more complete concert experience.

The festival concluded with a standout performance from Phoenix, currently touring their sixth and latest album, Ti Amo, which was released last June. Barreling through crowd favorites “Lisztomania” and “1901,” Phoenix’s infectious good vibes was the perfect closer to an overall solid weekend of music. As is customary, frontman Thomas Mars surfed into the crowd for the finale, an encore performance of Ti Amo’s eponymous lead single.


Although we’re just a couple weeks short of spring and the slew of music festivals that seem to tumble out one after another as the months get warmer in LA (she said as the northeast gets pummeled by a freak snowstorm), Air + Style’s fusion of music and snow/skate athleticism—particularly so soon after a solid American showing in Pyeongchang 2018—make for a unique experience that can’t easily be found elsewhere. The comparatively small lineup and layout of the festival make it easy to avoid too many conflicts which is a huge plus, though I imagine that may change as the festival continues to grow. If you haven’t gotten a chance to check out this very worthwhile addition to the LA festival circuit, I recommend rectifying that the next chance you get.



For more info:

Air + Style