Pop-up concerts return live music to Aspen and Snowmass
DJs and bands performing on-mountain at chairlift stations
Yes, skiers, that is the sound of live music you hear.
Without fanfare, the Aspen Skiing Co. last weekend rolled out its new, COVID-safe Music on the Mountains series, bringing pop-up style daytime concerts to local ski areas. They’re designed with the pandemic-bred health and safety concerns in mind, situated and scheduled not to attract crowds, but instead to entertain skiers and riders as they pass by or load a chairlift.
“Our main goals with this new series are really two-fold,” said Skico event marketing manager Daragh Kneeshaw, “to provide a fun and unique live music experience for our guests – in a socially distanced manner, of course – and to be able to support local and regional artists in a year where live music has been essentially nonexistent.”
The series began on Jan. 16 at Snowmass Ski Area and is scheduled to run until at least the end of February. The kickoff performances showcased Aspen-based DJ Quattro Siracho at the Alpine Springs lift and the Colorado-based members of eclectic jam bands The Jauntee, Thievery Corporation and Ghost Light, forming a sort of supergroup for the occasion as Jaunt Corporation at the Village Express lift.
On Friday, DJ Quattro returned with a mid-day gig at the Ajax Express lift on Aspen Mountain. On Saturday, DJ DC will play at the Alpine Springs lift on Snowmass and a surprise band will perform at the bottom of the Village Express.
Skico has signed up about 40 local and regional artists to play these gigs, plucking acts from the Aspen area, from Denver and from Breckenridge and other mountain towns.
Locations will mostly be unannounced. Along with the lift venues used so far, plans are in the works for performers to pop up near the outdoor dining and takeout window at Elk Camp restaurant on Snowmass and Merry-Go-Round on Aspen Highlands as well as the Sundeck on Aspen Mountain.
Thus far, the concerts have run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. or from noon to 3 p.m.
“We’re taking a surprise and delight approach with this series,” said Kneeshaw, “offering live music in places where guests wouldn’t normally experience it.”
Skico is hoping to extend the series through March and expand the frequency of concerts, but producers are taking it slow amid the pandemic and public health restrictions, testing locations and times to ensure crowds do not gather.
Skico is booking bands and DJs through its long-standing partnership with the team at Belly Up Aspen, the music club that has “paused operations” since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.
The series was made possible, Kneeshaw added, by the continuing sponsorship of Bud Light, the beer brand that has long sponsored the Skico’s wintertime Hi-FI concert series, which typically includes five to six outdoor concerts during a ski season and which over the years has booked big-name artists like Vampire Weekend, Spoon and the Soul Rebels to play concerts at the base of Aspen Mountain and Snowmass Ski Area.
Kneeshaw said the company agreed to funding the 2021 series even though it won’t include the large crowds, branding opportunities (and beer sales) of the traditional Hi-Fi format.
“We’ve always been a music-centric resort and our goal here is to continue that,” Kneeshaw said. “People who are here are looking for more than skiing. They’re looking for a well-rounded experience and we’ve been able to continue doing that through Bud Light and Belly Up.”
For Aspen skiers as well as the Skico events team, these shows have been music to their ears.
“I can say for me personally, it has been super refreshing to get back to producing shows, no matter how small,” Kneeshaw said, “and have the chance to provide live music again to our guests and locals alike.”