By Marian Tuin –
“I sing something, you sing something and we all end up friends at the end of the night,” Sting aptly declared to a capacity crowd on Sunday, Sept. 1 at the 2019 Jas Aspen Snowmass Labor Day experience. That statement is absolutely the way the experience could be defined. Friends singing along with legends over the course of a three day festival event to the likes of Sting, John Mayer, Weezer and other rising stars such as ZZ Ward, Luke Combs and Portugal the Man among others.
Nearly 30,000 music lovers and fans gathered in Snowmass for the 29th annual Labor Day Experience. They were rewarded with the most accommodating weather the festival has seen and most efficient execution of the event to date. With music as diverse and eclectic as those that gathered, John Mayer pointed out during his Saturday night set, “It’s weird when you play a festival, because you don’t know who is there for you and who is not there for you.” Which a fan quickly confirmed who she was there to see by a bra onstage.
The weekend was filled with some of the best music Jas Aspen’s Labor Day Experience has seen in a lineup and passed all too quickly. Opened by Portugal the Man. who, as is their tradition, invited a local to open their set. A Native American kicked things off beating a hand held drum and chanting a native song. The stage was later rocked by Weezer who generated a hard hitting classic set of hits that included “Buddy Holly”, “Hash Pipe” and “Island in the Sun” and covers of Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and A-Ha’s “Take on Me”.
ZZ Ward picked it up on Saturday and shined in the afternoon sun with her pristine vocals and graceful presence onstage. Followed by Luke Combs who engaged the audience between singing his hits and sampling some new songs by describing his journey from a struggling artist that wrote music eight hours a day five days a week, to being atop the country music genre. He noted that three of his number one songs he was told no one would pay to listen to. And he then celebrated by shotgunning a beer, tossing it into the crowd and spraying the remainder of it across the thousands who indeed did pay to hear him play and were pushing through the standing room only section to get closer.
It was a weekend where John Mayer described his artistry saying, “My chief export is feelings and business is good.”, as he played his classics like “Why Georgia”, “Who Says” and a stripped down version of “Daughters”. Spotting a father holding his daughter between songs he openly declared, “I want to be a dad so bad!”
Sting closed the weekend playing a well traveled and played guitar calling himself an “Aspen virgin” as this was his first set in the luxurious mountain town. His music filled the starlit Sunday sky with a 90 minute showcase of hits ranging from The Police to his more recent collaboration with Shaggy on “Can’t Find Love”. At 67 his voice is polished and his artistry refined. He still hit the highest notes of “Roxanne” and smoothly transitioned to hold each note of more romantic songs like “Shape of My Heart” which he mashed up with a Juice Wrld sampling of “Lucid Dreams”.
The event and weekend bookended quietly during Sting’s second encore, as he reminded us of the balance of life and the beauty music brings singing “Perhaps this final act was meant to clinch a lifetime’s argument, that nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could…How fragile we are.”