Inaugural Palm Tree Music Festival lights up Aspen and Rio Grande Park
Headliners Jack White and Kygo entertain thousands of concert goers
For The Aspen Times
After months of anticipation, the first-ever Palm Tree Music Festival exploded in Aspen on Friday and Saturday.
The music festival, produced by Belly Up, alongside Kygo’s Palm Tree Crew and live-event production company C3 Presents, took over Rio Grande Park. With the stage in a wide-open snowy field, patrons bundled up in their warmest après ski attire for the outdoor shows.
Guitar legend Jack White and DJ Kygo headlined the two-day festival with an impressive list of opening acts. Friday featured a diverse lineup, including DJ Naka G, Cannons, Tessla, Gryffin, and Jack White. Saturday brought in Haasy, Forester, DJ Lo_G, King Princess, and Kygo. Kygo’s performance also featured special guests, including Justin Jesso and Parson James.
Each artist complemented one another well, while also bringing their own sound.
“I was very happy with how things went,” said David Goldberg, co-owner of Belly Up with his younger brother Danny Goldberg and father, Michael Goldberg. “There’s always nuances to work out and improve on which we look forward to, but we are very happy. The artists all had an amazing time and loved being and performing in downtown Aspen. It was great to see thousands of people having so much fun.”
Los Angeles-based indie electronic duo Forester got the crowd moving Saturday afternoon with their live hybrid DJ performance. They rocked vintage ski suits onstage while playing hits like “Spark,” “Falling Fire,” and “All My Days.” The 25-year-old duo, composed of David Parris and Xander Carlson, have been friends since high school but only just formed Forester in 2019.
“I don’t think you could ask for a better environment,” said Carlson moments after he got off stage. “I kept getting distracted. There was a point when I just started tearing up a little bit when we saw the sun go down over the mountains.”
The guys grew up in Los Angeles, but noted how important it was for them to spend time in nature to balance out the craziness of the city.
“We don’t get to play in places like this very often,” Carlson said backstage while the audience exploded as King Princess belted out her first song. “We just got off a tour mostly in small cap venues and dingy clubs with low ceilings. To now be playing the same set out here with the exact opposite setting felt amazing and surreal.”
“We grew up listening to Kygo’s music,” Parris said. “That was the soundtrack of my young adult years. We were so inspired by his sound. Now he’s a friend of ours and we get to open festivals for him. It’s such a crazy process.”
Rio Grande Park in downtown Aspen was the ideal location for the festival. With panoramic mountain views, the large, open-air park was the perfect place to enjoy the mountain scenery and appreciate the diverse musical lineup.
The festival was the perfect level of crowded. It wasn’t so congested that you couldn’t move around easily — just the right number of people to get the momentum going and the energy buzzing.
Despite the cold, The King of Tropical House kept the party going late Saturday evening. The set opened with Parson James belting out lyrics to his smashing hit single, “Stole the Show.” Kygo continued to impress with classics like “It Ain’t Me,” “Never Let You Go,” and “Dancing Feet” while the audience erupted.
He closed out the show in signature style with a spectacular finale of “Higher Love,” along with a beautiful rendition of “Firestone.” With Kygo playing the piano, Justin Jesso came out one final time, along with violinists, to finish out the show and serenade the audience.