Aspen Times Weekly: Sounds of X Games

by Andrew Travers

In its third year of festival-style concerts at Buttermilk, the X Games have outdone themselves. After selling out the snowy venue for headliners like Skrillex and Twenty One Pilots in the last two outings, ESPN is bringing four of the hottest acts in music to Aspen this weekend. The three days of concerts include arguably the most popular DJ in the U.S., the duo behind the most listened-to song in the world, two of the Grammy nominees for Best New Artist and the guy who just won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Hip-Hop Artist.

It’s going to be a wild weekend on Panda Peak and at Belly Up Aspen, which is hosting more intimate (and less frigid) versions of the massive shows at X Games. Here’s a primer on who’s coming.


at Buttermilk, Friday, Jan. 27, 9:45 p.m.

Bassnectar’s two-night sold-out run at Belly Up in 2014 was one of the more memorable tour stops Aspen has seen in recent years. With two shows falling in the depths of the spring offseason, the San Francisco-based DJ brought his “basshead” army to town, filling a sleepy Aspen with his devout and frenzied followers.

His complex, danceable tracks, eclectic collaborators and epic live sets have helped make Bassnectar — born Lorin Ashton — a singular figure of the EDM era, inspiring a massive cult of fans who follow him the way previous generations followed the Dead and Phish.

The bassheads are back for X Games and Bassnectar’s sold-out opening night gig at X Games as he tours in support of his latest record, “Unlimited,” which came out last summer.



at Buttermilk, Saturday, Jan. 28, 4:30 p.m.

at Belly Up Aspen, Sunday, Jan. 29, 6 p.m.

When Anderson .Paak’s breakout album “Malibu” came out a year ago, it was a welcome and unexpected ray of summer sunshine in the depths of winter. The surfing-themed, genre-defying record remained one of the best albums of the year, blending R&B, soul, hip-hop, funk, rock and a little bit of old-school political rap.

He followed up the phenomenon of “Malibu” in October with the release of “Yes Lawd!” under the guise of NxWorries, his duo with Knxwledge. His very big 2016 — and his two stand-out albums — has earned the rapper a Grammy nod for Best New Artist. Yet more of the world has gotten to know Anderson .Paak in recent months as the star and voice of NBA television commercials. All indications are that he’s only going to get bigger and better from here.

Playing with his live band The Free Nationals, the emcee is playing two early shows over X Games weekend — Saturday afternoon at the Buttermilk venue and early Sunday evening at Belly Up.


at Belly Up Aspen, Friday, Jan. 27, 10 p.m.

at Buttermilk, Saturday, Jan. 28, 9:30 p.m.

The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” has topped 1 billion (yes, billion with a “b”) views on YouTube and recently broke the record for having the longest run in the Billboard Top 10 in history. You’ve heard it. You love it. It’s inescapable. Resistance is futile. The DJ duo of Alex Pall and Drew Taggart have perfected the art of the earworm for the age of electronic music — along with “Closer,” there’s “Don’t Let Me Down,” “Roses” and the new single “Paris,” which is shaping up to replace “Closer” as the song stuck in everybody on Earth’s head.

These DJ bros will play to sold-out crowds Friday at Belly Up and Saturday night at Buttermilk.


at Buttermilk, Sunday, Jan. 29, 3:30 p.m.

at Belly Up Aspen, Sunday, Jan. 29, 10:30 p.m.

An Oakland, California, rapper who emerged from the underground scene with a playful reimagining of the golden oldie “Runaround Sue,” G-Eazy was once dubbed “the James Dean of rap.” But he’s broken free of that label and its novelty. He’s now a long way from his underground roots and at the top of the mainstream (even collaborating with Britney Spears on her 2016 comeback track “Make Me”) thanks to his 2015 album “When It’s Dark Out” and the single “Me, Myself & I.”

Earlier this month, he won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Hip-Hop Artist, beating out the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West and signaling that G-Eazy has arrived.

He’s playing a doubleheader on Sunday – closing out the X Games music festival at 3:30 p.m. and then headlining Belly Up seven hours later.

Aspen Times Weekly

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