Country singer performs in Snowmass after California shooting |

Country singer performs in Snowmass after California shooting

Maddie Vincent
The Aspen Times

On Thursday night just after 6:30 p.m., the smooth vocals and country melodies of McKenna Faith sounded off the buildings in and around Snowmass Village Mall.

Through a mix of classic covers and originals, the 24-year-old singer-songwriter worked to connect with the crowd gathered at the Fanny Hill stage, encouraging attendees to sing along and to “move their fannies” as she danced on stage with her three bandmates.

For most attendees, it was another summer night spent in Snowmass Village at the town’s Thursday free concert series.

For Faith, the night had a little more significance.

Yes, it was her first visit to Snowmass. Yes, it was part of one of her biggest countrywide tours yet.

But it was also her first performance since she sang at the Gilroy Garlic Festival last Sunday, where a gunman opened fire on the California food fest crowd, killing three people and injuring a dozen others.

Neither Faith nor her bandmates and tour staff were injured.

“It was a really terrifying experience because you don’t get out of bed in the morning and think that’s going to happen,” Faith, a northern California native, said of the garlic festival shooting.

On a couch in the large, white artist’s tent behind the Fanny Hill stage before her Snowmass show, Faith recounted what she and her band members experienced in Gilroy just five days before.

Faith had just finished her set at the garlic festival and was talking with some of her friends in the audience when she heard popping noises.

“Gunshots aren’t the first things you’d assume and I kind of ignored it because I was like if they were (gunshots) people would be freaking out,” Faith said. “But then I heard this guy yelling, ‘Gunshots! There’s a shooter!’ and we looked up and there was a huge crowd of people running toward us.”

As soon as she heard the man yell, Faith echoed his warning to her band, yelling for them to run. She remembers her whole body trembling.

“Seeing the looks on peoples’ faces and like people getting trampled was so terrifying because you don’t really know, they’re saying there’s an active shooter and you don’t really know where is safe,” Faith said.

To get out of the area and to a safe space, Faith said she and the crowd had to hike out of the area on a trail to a nearby school. Her grandparents eventually picked up Faith and her band from the Gilroy area, as she said no one was allowed to drive out of the festival.

“We couldn’t get our van until yesterday (Wednesday) so we didn’t know if we were even going to make it up here,” Faith said.

When asked how she mentally prepared to finish the rest of her summer concert tour after going through such a traumatic experience, Faith said she tried to decompress most of Monday and did most of her processing of the garlic festival shooting Tuesday, which was her hardest day.

But although Faith said she has worried about a potential shooting incident happening during one of her festival or concert performances at times, and that she has thought about the garlic festival shooting every day since it happened, Faith also said she doesn’t want it to affect her decisions moving forward.

“It’s out of your control. … You can’t be scared to go out and have fun. That’s what they (active shooters) want to do, they want to scare you so you can’t enjoy things like this,” Faith reflected about her experience at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. “You just have to hope it doesn’t happen again and that you don’t have to be a part of something like that again and to just keep living your life, really.”

That’s why after Faith and her band got their van, trailer and equipment back Wednesday from Gilroy, they made their way to Snowmass to perform Thursday night, as planned.

“I just want to keep playing music because music is healing and I love it,” Faith said. “It makes me feel better and I hope it makes other people feel the same way.”

On Thursday night, Faith said she and her band members had a ton of fun. She thought the energy of the Snowmass crowd was unreal, which helped her put on a high energy show and get her band back on track for the rest of the summer tour.

“Last night was the perfect way to have a show after such a tragedy,” Faith said of the Snowmass concert Friday evening after her performance at the Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. “It’s scary what happened but no matter what we have to be positive and spread that energy through our music.”