With less than a month before a new music festival is scheduled to take place near the base of Buttermilk Ski Area, permits for the event have yet to be issued.
The three-day festival, which goes by the name The Après will be discussed at a special meeting of Pitkin County commissioners today starting at 1:45 p.m. The event will feature two prominent jam bands: Umphrey’s McGee on April 5, to be followed by String Cheese Incident April 6-7.
Aspen Skiing Co. is teaming up with the Belly Up Aspen music venue to produce the festival, which will be held on Buttermilk’s Panda Peak in the same general area as concerts that took place in mid-January during the ESPN Winter X Games. The two headlining bands also are scheduled to perform at Belly Up on the same week as The Après.
The special meeting will follow a work session of county commissioners that starts at 10:30 a.m. On Monday, there was no information in the meeting packet outlining the issues commissioners will face during the special meeting.
County Manager Jon Peacock said special-event permits typically are handled administratively, without the need for commissioners’ input. The county’s Community Development Department decided to schedule the meeting on The Après because of its size. The official capacity for the X Games concerts was 8,000 people and The Après may end up with as many attendees or more, he said.
“The community development director has the ability to refer questions for the [Board of County Commissioners] to make permit decisions,” Peacock said. “It has been our practice with large events, particularly new ones, to brief the board on the particulars of the permit in a work session and getting a sense from the board as to whether they want a crack at it.”
Peacock said he has not personally received any input from concerned residents that relate to potential impacts on the community. He said reviews of the event’s plan by local public safety officials were completed last week. Tuesday’s special meeting does not set aside time for public comment, Peacock said.
“We’re not behind by any stretch,” he said. “If the board decides they want to bring it into a public hearing [after Tuesday], then it could be cutting things close.”
He said he expects county staff and representatives of SkiCo to attend the special meeting to address any questions from commissioners relating to traffic, noise and other possible effects.
Neither band sports a style in the vein of hard rock. Umphrey’s McGee has been described as an eclectic mix of progressive guitar and soft acoustic balladry, with a touch of funk, groove and blues. The String Cheese Incident, which is celebrating its 25th year as a band, plays music that’s said to be a blend of progressive bluegrass and neo-psychedelia.
Umphrey’s is set to start at 8 p.m. set on the opening night, preceded by two opening acts. String Cheese will play 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. sets on April 6 and 7, preceded by another opener.
Ticket options include a $79.99 three-day music pass or a $199.99 three-day music pass with a two-day lift ticket valid during the event. Tickets are on sale online via aspensnowmass.com. A box office will also be open at Buttermilk’s Bumps restaurant during the festival.
Concert gates will open daily at 4 p.m. The festival will take place regardless of weather conditions. For more information, visit aspensnowmass.com/theapres.
Pitkin County commissioners meet in their new boardroom at the county’s recently expanded administration building, 530 E. Main St.