The Diesel, aka Shaquille O’Neal, roars into Belly Up for soldout Saturday night show

Benjamin Welch
The Aspen Times

Aspen may be trying to cut back on its emissions, but there’s still a lot of Diesel coming through. Like, over 7 feet of it.

In one of the “only at Belly Up” spectacles of the season, playing at the club Saturday night is an NBA Hall of Famer, TNT broadcaster, Icy Hot Back Patch-wearer, lieutenant to The General and platinum-selling rapper and DJ.

No, this isn’t a group — it’s one, albeit bonus-sized, person: Shaquille O’Neal.

OK, but is this just some celebrity DJ appearance? Not according to his Lollapalooza and Decadence shows, where Mordor Army-sized crowds lose their minds to “Mr. Brightside” and “All I Do Is Win” remixes. Do the EDM kids even remember those songs?

“I have been DJing since the ’80s,” O’Neal said in an email interview. “Back at LSU I was big into spinning hip-hop and rap and now I have shifted over to a blend of hip-hop and dance music. … I’m always listening to new music, especially when on the road and in arenas for games. I’ll hear something new and be like, ‘Oh, I need that,’ and come back to it later. I am also always talking to other DJs and friends about what’s hot.”

That mix of new and classic songs, led by The Big Conductor (just trying to add a new nickname to Shaq’s vast arsenal), is exactly what a certain generation wants to see — Diesel’s debut Aspen show on Leap Day, the world’s most underrated holiday, is sold out.

As both a four-time NBA champion and huge draw for festivals, Shaq is used to a large audience, but said he’s excited for the capacity crowd at Belly Up just the same.

“I love them both. Small clubs are more intimate and personal, while big festivals really do feel like a Game 7. The countdown till the beat is like the countdown till the buzzer, and when the beat drops, it’s like hitting the game-winning shot.”

Special appearances by other musicians and celebrities have been common at O’Neal’s performances, and you never know who you might see at Belly Up.

“Diesel always has a trick up his sleeve, so let’s see,” O’Neal hinted.

And as a prediction, Charles Barkley did say “Shaq, you wanna go to Denver this weekend?” on the Thursday production of “Inside the NBA,” so maybe if you were really hankering for some Sir Charles on the turntables, your dreams will come true.