Après X: Concerts at Wagner?
Back-to-back Après X concerts at Wagner Park and a jibbing competition/concert on Aspen Mountain will be part of ESPN’s Winter X Games Nine at Buttermilk, if all goes according to plan.Two nights of concerts at the park, featuring bands yet to be determined, got a “yellow light” from the city’s Special Events Committee on Tuesday. A noise variance to allow the shows from 9:30 p.m. to 11 or 11:30 p.m., after each day’s competition wraps up at Buttermilk, will require City Council approval next month.A mobile stage is envisioned on the north end of the park, pointed toward Durant Avenue. The free concerts on Friday and Saturday night, Jan. 28 and 29, could draw 5,000 to 8,000 people each night, said concert producer David Laughren of Avalanche Productions.Last winter’s X Games featured a street concert by rock band The Offspring. The Aspen Skiing Co. followed that up with another free street performance featuring Boulder band Big Head Todd and the Monsters over Thanksgiving weekend. Concert organizers are seeking similarly well-known bands for January’s Après X series, but the acts are yet to be nailed down, Laughren said. The concerts may feature an opening act and a headliner or just one band, he said. ESPN will sponsor the performances.The park venue will bring the crowd into downtown Aspen and accommodate a VIP tent for 400 to 500 people, Laughren told the Special Events Committee, made up of representatives from various city agencies, including the parks, fire, police and parking departments.David Hoefer, assistant city attorney, quizzed Laughren on why the concerts can’t return to the corner of Hunter and Hyman, site of The Offspring and Big Head Todd shows.”The whole philosophy of this was to bring the X Games into town,” Laughren said. “We’re not charging anybody any money, they’re going to have some bucks in their pockets – hopefully they’ll spend their money in town.”Noise and potential damage to the park turf garnered most of the committee’s attention. Tom Rubel, parks operations superintendent, said he’d like to see at least a foot of snow covering the park to protect the grass during the events.Organizers are prepared to employ the Skico’s snow-making equipment to cover the park, Laughren said, but that raised the brows of Jannette Murison, senior environmental health specialist. If the city grants a noise variance for the event, it will have to address the snow guns, too, she advised.”Those things are loud – even the quiet ones,” Murison said.”I wish this was at Buttermilk,” she added.Committee members also stressed the need for adequate mass transit and letting attendees know when the last buses leave for the X Games parking lot at Cozy Point Ranch after the concerts.”The worst thing we could have is a thousand people whose cars are out at Cozy Point and it’s 1 a.m.,” said Tim Ware, Parking Department director.The Aspen Skiing Co. plans to follow up the Après X concerts with a wall-ride – or jibbing – competition and concert on Sunday, Jan. 30, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.Athletes will be jibbing – performing tricks on a wall – while a band plays, similar to the “Thanksjibbing” event held during the Thanksgiving 2003 weekend, said organizer Nancy Scheinkman.That band, too, has not yet been announced.”It’s going to be somebody good,” she said.Winter X Games Nine will run from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1. Practice runs and prelims will begin Jan. 27.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org