If there weren’t already enough parties this spring, The Après is here to fix that. The three-day festival has, in a way, been in the works for years and is finally making its debut this weekend. The festival spans all four mountains, encouraging visitors and attendees to get out and explore the hills in addition to the nightly shenanigans at Buttermilk.
The Aspen Skiing Company has always made a concerted effort to create an experience that extends beyond skiing and snowboarding, and music has always been a part of that on-resort component.
Deric Gunshor, the SkiCo’s director of event development, said, “We have wanted to put on a festival like this since 2009, when an idea to host a show in Wagner Park was first proposed and accepted. We started talking about The Après as early as last summer, and since this has been one of the longest winters any of us could remember, from Thanksgiving to Easter, it was perfect timing.”
The two headliners were chosen with skiers, snowboarders and Coloradans in mind. Since this was going to be an on-mountain experience, booking agents sought out groups who would attract fans looking to ride as well as enjoy the shows. The X Games helped to realize what’s possible in that venue, but the organizers wanted to create an entirely different experience there. Most members of The String Cheese Incident and Umphrey’s McGee actually ski or snowboard and have a large community of diehard fans throughout the mountains.
Umphrey’s McGee will fill Buttermilk with their experimental rock for the first night of The Après at 8 p.m. The Indiana-based band has been a longtime festival favorite, known for their energy-packed, genre-morphing performances. The group has been together since 1997, perfecting their communication and seamless performances, which have earned them international acclaim. The funky, dance-inducing originals and unexpected cover mashes really show their true shape when performed live. Combining Umphrey’s McGee with String Cheese is sure to bring in jam fans from across the state and beyond.
The String Cheese Incident will perform both Saturday and Sunday, playing two sets each night. This may sound like a lot of Cheese, but the group is diverse enough to keep stadiums entertained for days at a time. The band has created a model, now used by countless other groups, based around putting fans and their community first. They were one of the first groups to promote eco-friendly tours; they record and release every live show for free and even created a travel agency for fans. Their dedication to live music has established them as an industry innovator, and to call them just a jam band is an absolute oversimplification.
In line with String Cheese Incident’s environmental commitment, there will be various art installations that focus on climate change and the SkiCo’s “Give A Flake” initiative. American artist Justin Brice Guariglia will be showing his “We Are the Asteroid” installation at the festival, reminding attendees of humanity’s catastrophic contributions to a changing climate. The “Give A Flake” pop-up will prompt visitors to send mailers to elected officials, urging them to support climate-friendly legislation.
In addition to the main events at Buttermilk, Après on the mountain will offer free shows on all four hills from 12 to 2 p.m on Saturday and Sunday. All you need is a lift ticket or foot pass to enjoy music from Jon Cumming and Bunch of Strangers, Meadow Mountain, The Sweet Lillies and Chain Station. The weekend will kick off Friday at 4:30 p.m. with The Main Squeeze and Moon Taxi at 6. Southern Avenue and AVO will open for String Cheese on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. There will be extra buses running all weekend with dedicated routes to and from the festival throughout the valley.