Fanny Hill concerts return to Snowmass Village
Local favorite event is back in action this summer
Did you hear that? It’s the sound of music — and if the kickoff of the Snowmass Village Free Concert Series was any indication, Fanny Hill sure was alive with it Thursday night when indie folk pop band Pandas & People hit the stage.
Thousands of attendees flooded the venue for the return of the local favorite concert series this summer. The first show of the season marked the first large-scale outdoor concert in Snowmass since the pandemic hit in March 2020.
And boy, did it feel good, according to attendees like the Locsin family: 38-year old Kacey, 47-year-old Alexei and their little one, 3-year-old Zoe.
“It’s awesome, it’s so good,” said Kacey, who grew up in Basalt and has been attending the Snowmass concerts as long as she can remember. (Alexei, for his part, has been attending for nearly two decades; Zoe attended when she was 1 but missed out last year when concerts were canceled.)
“It feels like the life is coming back to the community,” Kacey said.
Though Snowmass Tourism, Aspen Skiing Co., Base Village and other stakeholders have produced live music on the mountain and throughout commercial nodes since last year, those small walk-by affairs didn’t even have designated listening areas, let alone a venue with a capacity to hold nearly twice the population of Snowmass Village.
Masks aren’t required at Fanny Hill this summer, but concertgoers likely noticed a few changes to the venue that were in effect Thursday night. There were one-way entries and exits, aisles throughout the venue and no dance floor or Kid’s Zone for the debut concert. (Masks are, however, required on public transportation to and from the concert, including the Snowmass Village Shuttle and Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses.)
And the cash bar — usually just one large tent — became cash bars, three of them, to spread things out a bit. That’s why there was no viewing area for people who bring their pets, Snowmass special events manager Julie Hardman said in an interview earlier this week; the town needed the space for tents.
The Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will receive the proceeds from this year’s alcohol sales and provides the liquor license for the event, continuing a partnership between the camp in Old Snowmass, the town of Snowmass Village and Aspen Skiing Co.
“It’s certainly the opportunity to have a presence as an organization in the valley that is coming back out after COVID,” said Karen Immerso, a board member at the camp. She didn’t disclose exact numbers on the proceeds from alcohol sales in 2019 but did say the camp’s involvement then “was a huge part of the camp getting out of debt.”
“It was given to the camp some years ago, and it feels like a really precious chance to partner and to be out there and to raise funds,” Immerso said.
Some of the layout could shift around this summer as the season goes on, Hardman said. The bar served up only canned beverages to help cut down on touch points, according to Hardman.
But any way you slice it, the venue was hopping for the debut show; the hillside usually sees an average of 1,500 to 2,000 attendees for a typical concert (more on holiday weeks), but Hardman said she expected more than that for a debut show after a year of pent-up demand. (Officials don’t count each individual attendee but do estimate attendance based on crowding in certain areas, Hardman said.)
Pandas & People frontman Josh Scheer was admittedly a bit jittery before the band hit the Fanny Hill stage, he said in a pre-concert phone interview Wednesday.
“Honestly we’re really excited, and honestly a little bit nervous. It’s almost like it’s our first show all over again,” the singer and guitarist said.
The Fanny Hill concert was the the group’s first live performance as a full band since the pandemic put an ax to the music and arts scene, according to Scheer. Some members, including Scheer and fellow guitarist Beau Osland, performed a few “little shindigs here and there … but nothing of this magnitude.”
Still, it’s the good kind of nerves, Scheer said. The concert kicked off the band’s summer lineup, which also includes two other shows at the Levitt Pavilion in Denver on July 18 and Taste of Fort Collins on July 24.
“All three of these shows are some of the biggest shows we’ve played so we’re grinding hard,” Scheer said.
He’s “beyond excited” about the return to live performance and the chance to get back into the groove. The way he sees it, the crowd is, too.
“It seems like people are really itching to get back out and watch some live shows, which is really awesome,” Scheer said.
“It’s going to be really amazing. … It’s been a long time.”
The Snowmass Free Concert Series runs every Thursday night through Aug. 26 with a bonus Fourth of July concert. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and music begins at 6:30. Visit gosnowmass.com/events for the full lineup.
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