Fine-tuning makes festival even better
September 3, 2008
Well, another Labor Day weekend has passed in Aspen, and, as usual, locals are still buzzing about the Jazz Aspen Snowmass concerts ” which shows they attended, how the bands performed, whether it rained and the oddities of life in a crowd of thousands at a huge outdoor event.
Fortunately, the post-concert chatter this year is nearly all positive. Opinions will always differ on the performances ” especially when they involve the enigmatic Bob Dylan ” but the feedback we’ve heard on the organization of the festival itself has been favorable.
This deserves mention because of the overcrowding that occurred at last year’s big night with the Allman Brothers, when 12,000 audience members were literally crawling all over each other, and the lines at the beer tents and the portable toilets were equally interminable. It was just one oversold night in 17 years of high-quality organization, but it left a bad taste in the mouth and led many to wonder if JAS would make some much-needed adjustments.
Fortunately JAS did, lowering the venue’s capacity and reconfiguring the festival grounds to give spectators more space and ease the flow of foot traffic. None of this year’s concerts even approached the ticket sales of last year’s Allman Brothers show ” so perhaps we can’t be 100 percent certain that JAS really would have ceased sales at 11,000 per night ” but the overall spectator experience was much improved.
Fans reported plenty of room to move, even during the headline acts, and no nightmarish backups trying to obtain food and drink. It was a long walk to the bathrooms, a big clump of which were located on the north side of Brush Creek Road in the vendor village, but this did serve to spread people out; they tended to combine their errands, going to the bathroom and getting a bite to eat in the same trip, for example. (For those who haven’t realized, the vendor village can be a great place to hang out if you’re content to watch the action on a video screen while you spread out and relax.)
Still, we’d ask JAS to consider carving out some space on the main festival green next year for some restrooms.
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That said, congratulations to JAS on another year of fantastic music, for breaking its own attendance record and for tweaking a few things on behalf of the spectators.