Tonight’s performance at Belly Up has been a long time coming, David Goldberg said.
“Briggs, this is her first time coming in here. We’ve tried to get her in here before. She’s just such a talented voice,” Goldberg, one of the venue proprietors, said. “It’s amazing to have her in the room finally. Hopefully, it's the first of many.”
Bishop Briggs has been called the “queen of fiery alt-pop,” with six singles on the “Billboard 200,” including her song, “River,” which hit number three on the U.S. Alternative Chart, and her debut track, “Wild Horses,” which peaked at number one on Spotify’s U.S. Viral Chart.
According to Spotify’s “About” section, “The music of Bishop Briggs transcends the limitations of singular genres, blending folk, pop and electronic music into a wholly unique sound.”
“iHeartRadio” described Briggs’ voice as “lived-in and unafraid,” comparing her to Janis Joplin, Florence Welch, Aretha Franklin and Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard.
Briggs is far from the only big-name act making industry waves coming to Belly up over the next month or so.
On Friday, the American indie-folk band Hiss Golden Messenger will put on an intimate, more laidback show — and for a ticket price starting at $28.
M.C. Taylor, frontman and songwriter for the North Carolina-based band, expresses personal and powerful narratives through his lyrics. “The Guardian” compares his “country rockers” to those of Bob Dylan.
This Bob Dylan-esque storytelling is evident in his new album “Quietly Blowing It,” which was written and arranged by Taylor in his home studio — a refreshing experience compared to the typical fast-paced life and tricky writing process that comes with constantly touring.
“We’ve all spent so many years traveling all over the world, but in that moment, it felt cathartic to be recording those particular songs with each other in our own small hometown,” Taylor said in a quote posted on the Belly Up website.
Although the COVID-19-basedbreak from touring allowed many musicians to slow down and create new, noteworthy tracks, tour cancellations made for a tough year for nearly every player in the industry, from the people behind the scenes to the artists on the road.
“As a whole, it’s not the easiest of times to book music and certainly to do it safely. The way the music business works is artists go out … [and] they have anchor dates and festivals and things along those lines, but there's not a lot of tours to pick off of. It’s forced us to be a lot more creative,” Goldberg said.
It led to less programming in July than the venue would typically boast, but Goldberg emphasized what a joy it’s been to get back in action.
“August is obviously looking like a much more normal August,” he said. “There’s more festivals out right now and anchor dates. Artists are out back on the tour circuit right now. The real touring circuit I anticipate to pick up at the beginning of next year.”
Aside from the financial and logistical struggles wrought by the pandemic, though, Goldberg emphasized that his operating philosophy never changed when it came to putting together a lineup — once putting together a lineup was again a realistic option.
“We want to program as much as we can for everybody,” Goldberg said, adding that that can mean showcasing acts that sell out arenas one night and “really quality, up-and-coming” ones the next. “Our goal is to program as big as we can and also as quality as we can.”
With Belly Up shut down for about 16 months starting in March 2020, the venue had to cancel all of its shows, one being Big Boi, who is now rescheduled for next Aug. 12 at 9:30 p.m. It’s a show Goldberg is particularly looking forward to, given his own musical tastes.
“For me, as a die-hard hip-hop head, to have something like Big Boi … Big Boi is such a professional and quality show,” he said. “Live hip hop is a difficult thing to translate from time to time and Big Boi, he really enunciates his words into the mic and his stage presence is just so fun.”
Big Boi, member of the American hip-hop duo Outkast and Grammy award-winning rapper and producer, has played at Belly Up at least five times.
Since officially reopening on June 28 at 100% capacity, the venue has implemented a new ticketing system and COVID-19 protocols. All shows have “vaccinated” and “negative test” ticket types, at least 80% of attendees must be fully vaccinated 14 days prior to the show and attendees are required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test prior to entry.
So far, it seems to be a system that’s working. Internationally renowned DJs such as Fisher, Kygo and Deadmau5 have already played sold-out shows this summer season, and many more big names are scheduled to take the stage, including Big Wild on Aug. 18 and Zedd on Sept. 3. Aspen audiences will have two chances to see Spoon, on Sept. 4 and 5.
Many of the upcoming shows on Belly Up’s roster mark what will be much-anticipated reunions between the artists and the venue operators. Goldberg recalled essentially being able to watch Big Wild’s career explode — and yes, his upcoming appearance in Aspen is already sold out.
“[Musicans] like Big Wild has been a fun thing for us. First time we had him, it was a $25 ticket. Now he’s quickly selling out Red Rocks with his eyes closed,” Goldberg mused.
And when he talked about Spoon, it would be easy to mistakenly think Goldberg was referring to family.
“Spoon is another one we’re very close with and they’re as quality of a live show as you can get. Great rock is never something, in my mind, that will never die,” he said. “Having Britt [Daniel] and those guys back up here for two nights over Labor Day, we’re incredibly fortunate. They’re last album was just amazing.
“To be able to share those moments with somebody you don’t work with on a daily basis but every time you work together you pick up where you left off … it’s such a pleasure. They’re as talented as it gets,” he continued. “I can’t say enough nice things about them as people and professionals, as well. They’re one of those that it’s a joy, and luckily we get a lot of those.”