Time for a new, rockin’ Aspen? | AspenTimes.com

Time for a new, rockin’ Aspen?

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Tomorrow night’s Offspring concert on the streets of Aspen may set the stage for future events of a magnitude not seen in town before.

Some 4,000 to 6,000 people are expected to crowd Hunter Street while the California punk outfit rocks the place on the final night of ESPN’s Winter X Games. City and resort officials will have their ears on the band and their eyes on the crowd.

If it all works out, it probably won’t be the last time a big-name act closes down a swath of downtown Aspen, organizers predict.

“We’re bringing in an awesome sound system and an awesome lighting system. This is going to be pretty much a full-blown rock ‘n’ roll show,” said David Laughren of Avalanche Productions, which is helping the Aspen Skiing Co. produce the concert. “In the 22, 23 years I’ve been here, there’s never been anything like this.”

The Skico had originally envisioned several days of concerts, with a stage on the mall at the corner of Galena and Cooper, but couldn’t secure acts for the multinight blast.

If all goes well Tuesday, it would bode well for a string of concerts when the X Games return next year, Laughren predicted.

“We’ll have this under our belt and we’ll start working on it a lot earlier,” he said. “I think a lot of bands and a lot of sponsors would like to be a part of it.”

With just one concert this year, the Skico pushed for a stage on Hunter Street, facing Aspen Mountain, to tie the show in with Rail Revolution, featuring rail stunts by X Games athletes on the gondola plaza at the top of Hunter.

Three blocks of Hunter will be shut down for the concert, and arrangements have been made to eliminate parked cars in two private lots on Hyman Avenue, opening them up to concertgoers. The larger lot, across Hyman from Vectra Bank, is almost directly across from the stage, which will be erected next to the bank on Hunter Street.

“It really adds a lot more viewing area for sure,” said Tim Ware, head of the city’s parking department. “The harder part would be trying to keep people out of there.”

No parking will be allowed on Hunter or on the blocks of Hyman to either side of Hunter tomorrow.

Some 20 to 25 city staffers, including parking and police officers, will be keeping an eye on the crowd, Ware said. Some will probably be posted on rooftops.

A couple of ambulance crews will be stationed in the vicinity, as well.

“Our goal is to be very unobtrusive, but yet still be able to watch public safety and assets,” Ware said.

A private security force of 40 to 50 people will be doing the same thing, Laughren said.

“Hopefully, it will be a great event and we won’t have any problems,” Ware said, calling the concert something of a test case for future events.

Laughren, who said he has produced large outdoor events in other places, is anticipating a great event that gives city officials the confidence to say “yes” to similar proposals in the future.

“There is no reason not to expect it to go very well,” he said. “We have done our homework on this. We’ve planned and prepared for the worst, but we’re expecting the best.”

Laughren declined to reveal what the Skico and its partnering corporate sponsors are shelling out to produce the free concert, but said, “It’s a lot.

“I think it’s another example of the commitment the Aspen Skiing Company has made to the community and to reposition themselves,” Laughren said.

The Skico wants to bring the excitement of the X Games into downtown Aspen and meld the youth culture of the competition with live music, said David Perry, Skico senior vice president, in pitching the concert to city officials.

The Offspring will compete with the ski superpipe finals on Tuesday night at Buttermilk for an audience. The band takes the stage from 6 to 7:30 p.m, following the rail action on the plaza from 5 to 6 p.m.

For those anxious to position themselves early for the concert, a big screen near the stage will broadcast the Rail Revolution antics. Local restaurants/bars are arranging to sell food and operate outdoor beer gardens during the concert.

The Offspring, with eight albums to its credit over a nearly 20-year span, is currently enjoying alternative-rock airplay with “Hit That” from its latest CD release, “Splinter.”

Other hits include “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)” off its “Americana” CD and “Come Out and Play” with its familiar refrain, “You gotta keep ’em separated,” from the ’94 release, “Smash.”

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com