Belly Up’s big Fourth of July week with Thomas Jack, Thievery Corporation, Blues Traveler, Flume and Bush
As Belly Up Aspen has earned a national reputation as one of the best small clubs in the U.S. and become a destination for some of the biggest bands on Earth over the past 12 years, it’s buzziest time has tended to be the build up to New Year’s Eve. Or, more specifically, the stretch between Christmas and the New Year — that annual shiny, sparkly, Champagne-popping period in the Aspen calendar. Everybody in town chatters about who the club will land, whether they can top last year’s artists, if the Jay-Z and Beyonce rumor is true this time around.
But the Fourth of July week has often been just as splashy as New Year’s. The club, in recent years, has built a run of high-caliber superstar Independence Day shows around an annual two-night stand from Thievery Corporation. This informal residency brings the Washington, D.C.-based collective to town for unpredictable concerts that blend world and electronic music and a rotating cast of characters and guest musicians.
Here’s the rundown on this year’s stellar Fourth of July week at Belly Up:
Thomas Jack, July 1, $55 to $85
The Australian DJ and producer may not have invented “tropical house,” but he did name it. The 24-year-old blew up on the EDM scene with laid-back songs that melded the club-ready sounds of house music with touches of classical guitar and steel drums, also dropping in saxophones, flutes and pianos. The sunny, beach-friendly vibe first found listeners in Jack’s remixes of songs by bands like Of Monsters and Men and Denver’s One Republic, but soon moved into original compositions. He’s become a local favorite since his Belly Up debut in 2015.
Thievery Corporation, July 3 and 4, $98 to $255
When Rob Garza and Eric Hilton founded Thievery Corporation 22 years ago, they didn’t set out to become the pied pipers of world music. It just happened that way because the pair’s listening tastes skew toward the eclectic.
“I don’t think we set out to do that,” Garza told The Aspen Times before one of its many swings through town. “It reflected what we were listening to — Brazilian, Jamaican, jazz, soundtracks from the ’60s and ’70s, and that seeped into what we do.”
The band, regulars here and on the festival circuit, have opened up many a listener’s ears to new genres, always bringing an army of talented guests and sampling souds from the Middle and Far East, South America, hip-hop and dub.
Blues Traveler, July 5, $55 to $95
Singer and harmonica player John Popper wowed a local audience in late June, kicking off the free Snowmass concert series on Fanny Hill with a solo performance supported by the local boys in Brother’s Keeper. So there’s no doubt Popper still has it. He takes the stage at Belly Up with the blues band that’s made him a rock icon over the past three decades. The intimate Aspen show comes on the heels of Blues Traveler’s big annual Fourth of July blowout at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where they’d headlined on Independence Day since 1994 (this year’s Red Rocks lineup also boasts Rusted Root, Spin Doctors and The Samples).
Flume, July 6, sold out
Rolling Stone recently called Flume’s pop-inflected future bass sound “EDM’s sound of 2017.” The 25-year-old Australian DJ broke out five years ago with a self-titled album and pumped out a steady stream of creative remixes – tackling acts like Lorde, Arcade Fire and Disclosure. Early this year, his ubiquitous hit “Never Be Like You,” from his sophomore album “Skin,” won the Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording.
Bush, July 7, $85 to $285
The genre-hopping holiday week at Belly Up closes with the ’90s alt-rock icons, the Gavin Rossdale-fronted British outfit behind the decade-defining album “Sixteen Stone.” After splitting up after the turn of the millennium and going silent for seven years, Bush reunited in 2010. In March they released “Black and White Rainbows,” their third album since getting back together. While they’re touring in support of the new record, Gen X-ers looking for a rock fix will surely get some of the classics to sing along to at this hotly anticipated Friday night show.
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Perhaps it’s because we are in the abbreviated days of winter and I instinctively know that the sun is shining down-under. But every January I go through a nostalgic period where Australian wine dominates my mind.