Road Trip Report: Winter on the Rocks at Red Rocks Ampitheatre |

Road Trip Report: Winter on the Rocks at Red Rocks Ampitheatre

William Gross
Special to The Aspen Times
The fourth annual Winter on the Rocks last weekend featured Major Lazer, Damian Marley and music fans braving the cold at Red Rocks Ampitheatre.
William Gross |

What would skiing and riding be without music?

Ski films would definitely not have the impact they have on us. The après-ski scene would not be what it is. And chasing powder in our trucks would not be the same.

For it’s fourth year, Icelantic skis brought winter and music together at the one-of-a-kind venue Red Rocks Ampitheatre. Past events have hosted acts such as Atmosphere, Jurassic 5 and Ghostland Observatory. This year’s lineup was sure not to disappoint again with co-headliners Major Lazer and Damian Marley, and Holy Ghost performing as the opener.

I had never been to Red Rocks in the winter, and, with the lack of snow that Aspen had been getting in January, I thought, “Let’s hit up the crew and take a road trip.” As always, many people were not totally feeling standing outside in the cold for a show. But my buddy Nick who is always down for some good music fun was in.

My expectations were high after speaking to the Icelantic guys Thursday, getting the low down on the event and hearing how hyped they were about this year’s artists.

As we walked into Red Rocks on Friday night, we could have mistaken it for the X Games venue at Buttermilk. Everywhere you looked there was swag being given away, promo girls and (don’t forget) the subfreezing temperatures.

After a solid opening set by the synth-pop duo Holy Ghost, Marley took the stage. He moved the crowd and was entirely in his element, at one point shouting out, “I am pleased to be in such a civilized state that would legalize marijuana. … I commend you.”

Throughout the performance, smoke filled the sky with “ Jr. Gong” playing tracks from his father’s catalogue and his own, such as “Road to Zion” and “Make it Bun Dem,” finishing with his mega track “Welcome to Jamrock” from 2005, which has had a major influence on the action-sports world and was a perfect way to end the set.

Now, it was time for Diplo’s project Major Lazer, known for fusing reggae and dancehall music with electro house beats. Coming out like a cannonball, propelled by lasers and a fireworks, Major Lazer hit the stage. Diplo, who rocked an expensive-looking suit, delivered track after track, creating relentless style energy throughout the set.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Major Lazer performance without sexy female dancers, who must have been freezing in the frigid Colorado air.

Walshy Fire directed the crowd throughout the performance, tossing various items into the crowd — including, but not limited to: towels, candy, and anything else he could find on stage.

By the end of the performance, I had that feeling of being on some psychadelics and lost in a bad circus where a Brad Pitt look-a-like was the ring leader.

I now know that the electronic scene and the production value has moved way too far away from the music. Let’s tone down the production, Diplo, and bring back the thing people truly came for: the music. Also, to all recording artists out there, please stop playing House of Pain’s “Jump Around” in your live performances.

Next winter, I will be staying warm inside and stick to spending my summer at Red Rocks.

William Gross is an advertising account manager for The Aspen Times.

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