X Games Aspen: Bazzi honors Kobe Bryant, plays live debut of ‘I.F.L.Y.’ | AspenTimes.com

X Games Aspen: Bazzi honors Kobe Bryant, plays live debut of ‘I.F.L.Y.’

  • Read the Aspen Times review of Friday night’s Rae Sremmurd show here and of Saturday’s Illenium performance here.
  • A photo gallery of Alesso's Saturday night show is online here.
  • The Times 2020 X Games music overview is here.

Taking the X Games music stage hours after news broke of Kobe Bryant’s death in a California helicopter crash, the R&B singer Bazzi honored the NBA legend, calling him “one of my heroes growing up, one of the greatest basketball players and humans of all time.”

“I want you all to remember how lucky we all are to be at the X Games in Aspen right now alive and healthy,” he told the Buttermilk Ski Area crowd, drawing a roar of applause and a “Kobe” chant.

Bazzi’s sleek 45-minute set also included the singer’s first live performance of his recent streaming hit “I.F.L.Y” (185 million Spotify streams and counting). The song was a high point of the performance, with the young crowd singing along to the earworm-y “I f-ing love you” chorus.

Anybody who thinks X Games music can only move at one over-caffeinated speed should take notice, as Bazzi proved otherwise. The set was filled with his sex-positive slow jams, bad-boy confessionals and torch songs — tales of break-ups and raw emotions and rawer bedroom liasons.

The 22-year old singer and recently minted pop star is making a case for himself as the heir to Prince and D’Angelo. He can turn heartbreak and devotion into perfect pop constructions like the set-opening “Paradise.”

Bassi gave X Games a feel-good comedown after a weekend of bombastic EDM and hip-hop sets from Alesso, Illenium and Rae Sremmurd. Bassi’s was lighter on the pyrotechnics and electronic sounds, drawing a smaller but no less devoted crowd of fans to the Buttermilk venue than his noisier predecessors.

He was backed by a live drummer and guitarist, with an off-stage DJ piping in the electronic production. He also picked up a guitar himself for “Alone” and other songs. But the show was carried by a man and a microphone, with Bazzi singing R&B augmented by some big bass drops — the cathartic crescendos of “Why” and “Mine” were highlights — and that booming drum set. It was an organic breath of fresh air. After closing with an extended singalong “Mine,” Bazzi returned for an encore. He took fan requests for his farewell song, choosing the sultry “Focus.”