Review: Rise Festival


In only its second year, Rise has upped the stakes, and is now a major player in the alpine festival scene. They’ve doubled their ticket sales since last year, and hosting the likes of Hospitality and Rinse, they’ve booked a classy line up, bang on point with the festival demographic. 

As more and more people arrive, we see that crowd is a split between young and seasoned partygoers all with a taste for extreme sports –Rise offers the perfect combination of the two. 

The UK grime scene has recently seen a revival in 2015, with the likes of Faze Miyake at the forefront of this resurrection. From the first day, with acts such as Novelist, Mssingno and Faze Miyake on the bill, Rise was the place to be to catch the UK grime scene in all its glory. Looking down the line up, it becomes apparent that it is not just cutting edge artists that they’ve brought on board, but some of the most established and respected artists of our generation. So Solid Crew, Ms. Dynamite, Skream and High Contrast are all present. 

There are primarily four main areas where the action happens, and the pride of the festival is Pano Bar, where the festival mantra ‘Party On Top Of The World’ is most apt. Running every day from 1-5pm, the festival organisers have made sure that some of the biggest names in electronic music come up the mountains to play. Jackmaster and Evian Christ both make the hills tremble with slamming sets, where the crowds dance on tables, in the snow and on the balcony taking in the truly stunning 360-degree views. Having said that, to say people are dancing is a bit of a stretch, it’s more a delicate mini step and bend of the knees – ski boots aren’t rave gear, and it’s been an icy, cold and painful lesson for some to learn. 

Rise is one of those festivals where barriers between artist and festivalgoer don’t exist, it is all-inclusive, without agenda, and it is all the more fun for it. After all, we all have to share the slopes right? Maybe the best example of this was Novelist boarding down the mountain in a peach onesie, straight into the booth, before tearing it up on the decks.

W.A.R. Arena is the festival’s biggest indoor space, and is normally a sports hall / social center in the usually small, quiet town of Les Deux Alpes. Here it transforms into the young raver’s Mecca, and High Contrast, Blonde and Jackmaster are just some of those spiritual leaders on show. Skream and Jackmaster play a b2b set until 2am, and when they finally finish up, they leave the stage like a pair of naughty kids at a family do, spinning that wedding favourite, ‘Zorba The Greek’ in front of an exuberant, exhausted crowd.

Rise has numerous little alternative venues and nightspots dotted around the town, whether it be Smokey Joes’ Americana bar or the Polar Bear pub, but the main after hours spot is Avalanche, open until 5am every night.

On the opening night of the festival, Triple Cooked star Jamie Thompson, Jamie Hartley and Tom Haigh welcomed in revelers with their infectious spinning and got the party going in true style. Avalanche is one of those small, tightly packed clubs a-la Plastic People, which is the perfect retreat from the frost into the warm arms of Skream and co.. Avalanche on the outside looks like it could be Santa’s grotto, but the truth is the guys at Rise have ensured it has the highest quality sound system, and even better disc jockey’s throughout the night. All that, makes this night spot a worthy watering hole to retreat into from those frosty evenings. 

For the first and last nights of Rise, the party stays out under the stars. On Saturday night Ms. Dynamite and Sigma (live) are the acts everyone’s talking about. The fact that Ms. Dynamite only plays a half hour set feels – to us – a bit wrong. The general vibe beforehand was that she would provide a bit of nostalgia and an excuse to shout the words ‘tee-hee’ without sounding like a dodgy Michael Jackson impersonator. Safe to say, she smashes it. There’s a lot of chat about East London accents and appropriate clothing for the mountains, but when she does play, there’s predominantly an old school grime tone to her set, which blends ‘Wile Out’ with Dizzee Rascal’s ‘I Luv U’ – with pounding bass and heavy drops to go with.
Sigma follows up with a headline live set, and this is the act everyone up and down the slopes seems to be most excited about. They start slow, and the amount of guests they bring out on stage stilt the performance a little, but to be fair to them, they bring it back, ending on a high with heavy hitters ‘Changing’, ‘Nobody to Love’ and ‘Higher’. Sometimes it is best to look to the crowd for an indication of how good a set has been. For example, you might at any given show see cups, bouncy balls, dinghies being thrown into the air, people on shoulders, crowd surfing etc. In Sigma’s case, ‘all of the above’ is the most appropriate option, where even a Christmas tree was uprooted and tossed around the crowd.

Like any proper festival, Rise threw a ‘Secret’ party on the last night, taking a 300 strong crowd way up the mountain, led by glow sticks to a special Alpine retreat, with open fires and a BBQ. Tunes came courtesy of Triple Cooked hero Jamie Thompson, Cirque du Soul and the old school hip-hop collection of Tango Williams. 

Forgive the near-miss pun, but Rise festival is on the up, it has a multitude of things not many others can offer. Beautiful weather and guaranteed skiing up on the glacier, a quality line up and ace vibes flying in from all directions – mix Christmas with festival fun, throw in some pounding dance music, and you’ve got a banging addition to the festive period.