Rise, in its second year, has upped the ante in the Alpine festival stakes. The brains behind the event have worked out exactly what was needed to improve upon last year, and - sure enough - smashed it. ‘Party On Top Of The World’ is the mantra of the festival, and at 3,600 metres, we know we’ve arrived at a unique party location.
Since last year’s debut, the festival organisers have doubled ticket sales to over 3,000 attendees, and the fact they are now hosting the likes of Hospitality and Rinse is testament to how fast they have grown.
From the top of the slopes to the bottom, we see a mix of festival-goers young and old, all with a shared passion for the extreme. The usually quiet town of Les Deux Alpes has become awash with party seekers, brought together by a line up crossing electronic music genres. Huge names from the UK grime and bass scenes such as Novelist and Faze Miyake are sharing stages with the likes of Metrik and London Elektricity.
For people used to the grungy, mud, Carling-sodden pits of Reading, the picturesque mountains that surround L2A are breathtaking. The pride and joy of the festival is the Pano Bar, a bar and stage with stunning 360-degree views across the snowy peaks. Open from 1-5pm each day, this particular high altitude watering hole plays host to the likes of Jackmaster, Axel Boman and Amy Becker. Axel and Jack play a b2b set laying down tunes like Dominica’s ‘Gotta Let You Go’ and Axel's own ‘ABBA 002’, the perfect tonic to a day slip and sliding down the mountains.
The biggest draw up to Pano Bar was always going to be So Solid Crew. Especially given the fact that fourteen of them would be there, including Romeo and Lisa Mafia. ‘21 Seconds’ was obviously what the crowd was waiting for, and all the alpine ravers, young and old, go suitably insane.
Though it's Rise’s first major headliner, Sigma (live) that's getting most airtime on the mountains. Sharing chairlifts with guys and girls from up and down the country, the vibe we repeatedly get is that “Sigma are gonna smash it, mate”. These are the young D&B heads to keep an eye on, who have come to see one of the hottest acts the genre currently has to offer. After a slow start at the main stage, the group gradually raise the party levels before ending with big hitters ‘Changing’, ‘Higher’ and ‘Nobody To Love’.
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We can’t neglect to mention Ms. Dynamite, and her support set to Sigma. Given that she is only scheduled to play for half an hour, we all thought it would be a brief, nostalgic (and possibly forgettable) set. Oh, how wrong we were. She teases the crowd, opening with 'Dy-Na-Mi-Tee' going against all expectation. What follows is some old-skool, hardcore grime and garage with a seemingly rejuvenated Dynamite so into it she ends up losing her voice.
Jackmaster and Skream then play b2b at the cavernous W.A.R Arena the following night. While Sigma are arguably a more accessible headliner, these two play their unique and sometimes unpredictable brand of house and tech right through until 2am. At this point, the two of them end with that wedding classic, ‘Zorba The Greek’. Everyone knows the tune, and you can imagine the scene, so we don’t need to describe the moment any further.
Rise is one of those inclusive festivals, without agenda, small enough that party-goers and performers get to mingle as one - if we can say that without coming across too naff. The best example of this has to be when Novelist boards down the mountain in a peach coloured onesie straight into the Pano Bar DJ booth and proceeds to tear it up in front of a frenzied crowd.
Rise throws the almost customary festival ‘secret party’ on its last night, although this was rather more special than the kind of ‘secret’ party you might expect. After a 2km trek up the mountain, led by glow sticks, we and 300 others arrive at a little starlit grotto with open fires and a BBQ with tunes coming from Triple Cooked star Jamie Thompson, as well as a set coming from the old school collection of Tango Williams. Not to be forgotten, Cirque du Soul also weigh in with their share of house, garage and all-round party beats.
There’s no doubting Rise is a festival on the up for three reasons. In 2015 they nailed their target market (students), growing in presence and increasing ticket sales, and plans to expand beyond that market next year. This year they nailed a slamming line up, crossing and blending electronic genres – and we know they have already started making bookings for next year. Lastly, and most simply, they have one of the most stunning festival locations in Europe, and with a glacier at the top, skiing is guaranteed all year round.
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Words: Milo Wasserman