Snow Dance Party: Aspen’s own DJ Lo_G headlines Belly Up on Thanksgiving Saturday
Local boys makes good ... music, spins for Belly Up’s ski season kickoff
Who: DJ Lo_G
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Saturday, Nov. 27, 10 p.m.
How much: $10
More info: Ryan Golbus opens; COVID-19 vaccination required
Belly Up always has one show over the ski season’s opening Thanksgiving weekend that ends up being the big one — the party-friendly concert where all the college kids converge for a reunion and all the seasonal workers experience their first wild night out and the winter’s class of ski bums toast their first night living the dream after their first day on the hill.
For 2021-22, this cultural collision of a party is DJ Lo_G’s Saturday night set at the club. This amalgamation of young Aspenites have more to toast than ever, as Belly Up is open again this ski season after the long, dark COVID-19 closure of March 2020 through June 2021.
“It’s kind of a huge honor to be able to kick off the season with my own show again,” Garrison said recently over drinks on the sidewalk outside Local Coffee House.
It’s hard to imagine a better ringleader for the night than Lo_G (birth name Logan Garrison) who is as local as they get around here, and whose progressive house sets are tailor-made for good vibes and full dance floors.
A go-to local opener for global EDM stars when they come through Aspen, Lo_G grew up in Aspen and Snowmass Village and — after four years in California for college — soon became a fixture on Aspen’s dance music scene, which punches well above its small-town weight.
He headlined Belly Up for the first time on Aug. 17, 2017, and has served as opener for some huge shows, including for The Chainsmokers in winter 2019-20 as Belly Up celebrated its 15th anniversary and for headliners including Fisher, Chris Lake, Dillon Francis and Cedric Gervais.
Belly Up’s Danny and David Goldberg have fostered Lo_G creatively as they have solidified their club an unlikely hub of the global dance music scene.
“Those two guys have really believed in me since day one and have done so much — not only for me personally, but for dance music and Aspen,” Garrison said. “I know they’re both big fans themselves. I owe huge thanks to those guys for believing in me and believing in the movement and bringing good dance music to the people.”
Garrison grew up playing piano and violin, then bouncing to clarinet and saxophone.
“Nothing really stuck until I started playing percussion at the end of middle school,” he recalled. “I was with a bunch of my buddies and being on the drumline was what the cool kids did in band.”
That experience may have started helping him hone his sense of rhythm, but something else big happened that sent Garrison onto his EDM trajectory.
“This guy deadmau5 came along,” he said with a laugh.
Garrison went to Red Rocks Ampitheatre for 2010’s Global Dance Festival, saw a deadmau5 live set and was hooked on EDM. He convinced his parents to get a plastic starter all-in-one DJ controller and was off and running.
Being a high school kid in Aspen as EDM took over pop music was an ideal perch. For example, Garrison saw Skrillex, still a largely underground phenomenon, play Belly Up in 2010 for $15 on a school night.
“It was genuinely revolutionary for electronic music,” he said of Skrillex’s ascendance. “It was aggressive. It was a little scary. It was totally different. Nobody knew how to take it for a long time.”
He was able to start seeing shows at Belly Up as it emerged as a hub of the EDM movement (Belly Up has since begun restricting its dance shows to patrons age 18 and up).
“I’ll never forget standing on the floor on a Wednesday night the first night my parents let me go out on a school night,” he recalled. “I was like, ‘I’m gonna play here. One day I’m going to be on that stage.’”
It wasn’t so long before that dream came true.
He spun for fun throughout high school, getting his feet under him playing aggressive bass music and the harsh and bombastic dubstep of the moment, but gradually refining his taste and style.
When he graduated from Aspen High in 2011 and went off to Sierra Nevada College in North Lake Tahoe, Calif., Garrison worked toward a writing degree while playing dive bars and small clubs, spinning in modest casino bars of the region and honing his craft with crowds of college kids and partying vacationers.
When he got out of college in 2015, he came back to start playing Aspen. After a few straight-ahead commercial DJ gigs playing top 40 hits, he surveyed the local scene and committed to doing his own thing as DJ Lo_G.
“I said, ‘Hey you know what? If I can play good dance music that’s just slightly tweaked for the mainstream crowd I think it’ll do really well here,’” he recalled. “I could play cool house music and just throw in a little sample of Earth, Wind and Fire or a little bit of the Bee Gees, it would give those people enough of ‘Oh, I know this song.’ But then I can drop it into a dope house beat.”
These days, a Lo_G set is almost all full of progressive house tracks.
“It’s so versatile,” Garrison, now 28, said of house. “It can be uplifting, it can be aggressive, it can be chill down tempo house and deep house. So there really is house music for everybody.”
Avoiding the overly repetitive and generic “boots and cats” four-on-the-floor house style, Lo_G has been soundtracking the local après scene in recent years, including as resident DJ for the W Hotel and its après parties and as a regular at 7908 and Bootsy Bellow’s (he does, for now, still have a day job at Euflora).
Garrison is also a student of the many EDM forms and a talented music critic. He writes about dance music for the online outlet EDM Identity, based out of San Diego, premiering albums, writing festival reviews, doing artist interviews and approaching the music with a knowledge and respect that mainstream outlets still haven’t been able to muster.
“Our core value a EDM Identity is to share a quality dance music journalism that people actually want to read about,” he said. “It’s not that easy to provide quality dance music journalism these days, that isn’t just a bunch of garbage and fluff.”
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With two major Andy Warhol museum exhibitions and a season of deep-diving Warhol events and art workshops ahead, 2021-22 is the winter of Warhol in Aspen.