“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 during 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 with the likes of Sting, John Mayer, Weezer and other rising stars such as ZZ Ward, Luke Combs, Portugal. The Man, and Wildermiss among others.
Nearly 30,000 music lovers and fans gathered in Snowmass for the 29th annual Labor Day Experience. They were rewarded with some of the most accommodating weather the festival has had 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 here for you and who is not here for you.” Which a fan quickly validated by tossing a bra onstage.
The weekend passed all too quickly and was filled with some of the best music Jas Aspen’s Labor Day Experience has seen in a lineup . Portugal. The Man took the stage first and as is their tradition, invited a local to open their set. A Colorado 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 set of classic songs 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 glowed in the afternoon sun with her pristine vocals and graceful presence onstage. She was 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 favorites 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 strumming a well traveled and seasoned guitar calling himself an “Aspen virgin”, as remarkably this was his first set ever 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”, that he masterfully combined with a Juice Wrld sampling of “Lucid Dreams”.
The event and weekend book-ended peacefully during Sting’s second encore, as he reminded us of the balance of life and the beauty music brings to it, 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.”