After more than 15 months of silence and darkness, Aspen’s iconic live music venue, Belly Up, will welcome a full house at the end of June.
David Goldberg, who co-owns and runs the club alongside his family, said in an interview Monday, “I can speak on behalf of all of us, this has been a long road and we’re very, very happy to finally be announcing shows and not behind the scenes moving them and rescheduling them and canceling them and all of that.
“It feels very good.”
Belly Up announced Monday that the Norwegian DJ and producer Kygo will perform at the venue on July 4, with tickets going on presale today. Currently the indoor venue’s calendar boasts 10 shows this summer, with many more in the works.
The first concert on the books is electronic producer deadmau5 on July 1; however, Belly Up plans to announce this week a show at the end of June and more than likely one more sandwiched between, Goldberg said. And before hosting its own, the venue will reopen as a stage for Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ multi-venue June Experience June 24-27.
In addition to deadmau5 and Kygo, confirmed acts at Belly Up throughout July and August include Big Gigantic, Blues Traveler, Pat Green, LeAnn Rimes, The Beach Boys, Melissa Etheridge, Louis The Child and Moon Taxi.
“One of the things that I know I love about Belly Up so much is that we try to do, and we do, program so many different things all the time,” Goldberg said. He noted that although the first week back is a bit electronic heavy, “they’re very different electronic shows” and a lot is happening behind the scenes as well.
Live-music lovers can expect a slew of announcements in the subsequent days and weeks not only from Belly Up but within the music and entertainment industry at large, Goldberg said Monday. While July is still early from an artist-touring perspective, he anticipates August and onward to pick up steam.
“One of the things that I’ve been coming to grips with and explaining to people is there’s not just this giant light switch where the music business is just going to turn back on. It’s going to happen in pockets, it’s going to happen in regions, it’s going to happen county by county, city by city, state by state, country by country,” Goldberg said. “It’s going to take some time to get everything rolling completely again, but I expect the fall as a whole to be a very, very busy live music piece of real estate on the calendar.”
Belly Up has worked closely in conjunction with public health in order to determine guidelines that would allow the venue to reopen at full capacity — which is the only way it makes sense, Goldberg said.
Last fall, the Goldbergs explored ways in which the venue could reopen — albeit in a restricted, mask-clad capacity — for the winter. Ultimately, it was deemed unfeasible and unrealistic across the board.
“With that exercise of trying to open at a severely limited capacity over the winter, we arrived at the conclusion that Belly Up really can only open at 100% capacity, no masks,” Goldberg said. “Other than that, it’s not an environment that’s conducive. These restrictions in place are the ones that allow us to do that. That’s how we’re handling it. Our goal, first and foremost, is to get open and stay open and bring music back.”
In order to do that, he said, Belly Up is ensuring that at least 80% of its patrons are vaccinated, while the remaining 20% must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the show. With a 450-person-capacity, that means at least 360 audience members per night must be vaccinated.
The process will be as straightforward as possible, Goldberg assured, with two sets of tickets available to buyers — one for those who are vaccinated or who intend to be by the time of the show, and another for unvaccinated individuals.
Because Belly Up formally adopted this policy before people purchased tickets to upcoming shows, many of which are already sold out, the venue emailed ticket-holders on Saturday with an option to refund.
Goldberg on Monday said he wasn’t aware of anyone requesting a refund yet. The club is also “working toward” 100% vaccination among its staff, he said.
As of last week, 59% of Pitkin County residents were fully vaccinated and 70% had received at least one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
“There’s clearly an appetite for live music this summer. There’s an appetite not just from the customer perspective but from the artist perspective,” Belly Up founder Michael Goldberg told officials at a Board of Health meeting May 13. “We’ve determined that the artists, our staff and finally customers are considerably more comfortable being in an environment where they know that the majority of people have been vaccinated.”