35th annual Burton U.S. Open in Vail boast more than a dozen free concerts | VailDaily.com

35th annual Burton U.S. Open in Vail boast more than a dozen free concerts

Katie Coakley
Special to the Daily

The Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships know what makes a good party — they've had 35 years to perfect the event. This year's competition promises to be the best yet, with athletes battling it out on the mountain and an extensive lineup of free concerts to continue the beat in town.

From hip-hop to R&B, rock to EDM, this year's musical lineup of 13 free shows strives to provide something for everyone; it's a worthy goal for an event whose sport is so closely tied to music.

"This year, we wanted as much variety as possible," said Ian Warda, director of events and entertainment for Burton. "The U.S. Open live music lineup has truly turned into a music festival now, with 13 acts on the bill. And it's free, which is something you won't find at this scale with any other festival or event, winter or summer. We're pretty proud of that, and it's a lot of fun putting it all together."

Warda said in addition to trying to appeal to the diverse audience that attends the event, the competitors also provide a gauge for what will work well in a live show.

"So many of the athletes listen to hip-hop when they snowboard … hence the bookings with D.R.A.M. and Air Credits," Warda said. "Danny Davis, one of the sport's best halfpipe athletes, organizes a festival called the Frendly Gathering every summer during his offseason. He's had Twiddle as one of the festival's featured acts from the beginning, so they felt like a very natural fit for our event, as well."

The music starts on Wednesday, and continues until the early hours of Sunday. DJ Cre8 and DJ Naka G are event veterans, having played at past Burton U.S. Open competitions. Both will be taking the stage throughout the week, pumping up the audience and adding their own unique spin to get the crowds jumping.

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As the lineup is as assorted as the audiences that will pack the Solaris Plaza, here is a rundown of the music that will make the mountain rock.

Wednesday

The Burton U.S. Open music experience opens with two bands of the rock persuasion, but with very different sounds. The Record Company, a three-piece rock band from Los Angeles, has a raw, roots-rock sound that features soulful lyrics with foot-stomping beats that will get the crowd moving.

Oyster Kids, a duo that prefers to release music rather than information about itself, provides an alternative rock sound blending layered instrumentation with almost ethereal vocals over a strident beat. It's a combination of performances that sets the pace for the event and is sure to kick off the crowds.

Thursday

Get out your jammin' shoes: Twiddle is performing two free sets. This Vermont-based four-piece group is known for weaving elements of rock, jazz and bluegrass with reggae and funk to create its sound. Incorporating tight harmonies but truly known for its improvisational instrumentals, Twiddle is famous for its live performances. These two free sets are sure to bring the crowds — and the energy — to the Solaris Stage.

Friday

TGIF, people: Performing on the heels of competition by the kings and queens of slopestyle, Friday night's shows promise to be two unforgettable experiences, starting with Lizzo and ending with headliner Gramatik.

A rapper, singer and musician (she's a classically trained flautist), Lizzo has been making a name for herself throughout the past few years. Her music is empowering, celebrating body positivity, self-love and feminism, with an energy and flow that is impossible to ignore.

"My show will bring out the best or laughing or crying. … It depends on how you take what we're doing," Lizzo said. "We go up there and we dance and I sing and I rap and it's a full-sensory type of show. Everyone from me back to the DJ is always performing.

"We just have feel-good music — we have music that gives you the feels — and there is a lot of bass, and we hope that everybody in the audience will dance with us."

Her latest release, "Coconut Oil," is a sampler platter of various influences, incorporating "everything I wanted to do," Lizzo said.

"There's trap influence, West African sounds, dance-hall influence, gospel sounds, straight up just old-school throwback soul and worship," Lizzo said. "I was nervous, I was like, can I do all this? And the label said, these are a lot of different genres, but your voice is the thing that creates the consistency throughout this record.

"It's cohesive because my voice is this thread that runs through these different genres. It does give me freedom to do anything. I've always been that way; I want to do it all. You never know what the next project might sound like, and that's exciting."

Slovenian-born, New York City-based hip-hop and electronic music producer Gramatik is no stranger to performing in the elements: A blizzard rolled in for his 2015 show at Red Rocks, but he played under a plastic tarp to protect his gear from snow until the city of Denver shut down the show for safety concerns.

"Yeah, I'm definitely prepared and excited to play in Vail," Gramatik wrote in an email interview.

The artist, who was leaving a show in Mexico, is inspired by not only genres of music such as hip-hop, funk, soul, blues, jazz and different electronic genres, but also by elements outside of the musical realm.

"Nikola Tesla is definitely one of my biggest inspirations. Science, space explorations, film, comedy — I try to incorporate all of this in my music," he wrote. "It's always been my outlet for political, social and artistic views."

Gramatik started his record label, Lowtemp, in 2013 and focuses on collaborations and bringing the "M" back to electronic dance music.

"When I produce EDM, no matter what genre I make, it has to be musical," Gramatik wrote. "It has to have some funk, soul, blues or jazz in it for me to feel good about it. After all, EDM evolved from those 'father' genres. I'm not against EDM that doesn't include those fundamental vibes in a prominent way; it's just my personal preference when I produce and it's why I like to label these kind of genres as Electro Soul, Future Funk and Bluestep, to make that clear."

His show Friday night promises to not only be entertaining and inspirational, but Gramatik hopes the audience will get a bit more out of it, as well.

"When the night is over, we should all engage and try to make this crazy world a little bit more sane and do our best to learn and operate with facts," he wrote. "Championing a fact-based society is the only way to reach and live in the age of reason."

Saturday

The closing day of the competition crowns the halfpipe winners, culminating with the evening's musical lineup. Starting at 6 p.m. at the Solaris Stage and lasting into the early morning at Dobson Ice Arena, audiences will get blasts of electronic, R&B, rap and more that will cap off the experience.

"D.R.A.M. is the most commercially successful artist we have on the roster," Warda said. "It's not very often that Vail gets an artist with a song higher on the billboard charts than Drake, Rihanna and Kanye. Xavier Omar is one to watch, too, that I think will be a surprising discovery for the Vail crowd."

Saturday's Solaris Stage features Keys N Krates, Skratch Bastid and Omar. Keys N Krates is a high-energy headliner, but be sure to make it for Omar, a singer-songwriter who delivers a sound that's rooted in R&B, offering positive lyrics with an unforgettable voice.

Omar started as a rapper, but recently released his latest project, "The Everlasting Wave," under his own name, allowing audiences to experience not only the live instrumentation that has been essential in his musical life, but also the core messages that are so important to him.

"This project allowed me to introduce me as my personal, natural-born self. It was a chance to use live instrumentation, as well, which is such a big part of who I am. … It feels like my roots," Omar said. "This project is important because it lays the foundation for where I go now. For my songwriting, for the eight different corners of R&B that I touched on in the project and the message that I want to be key and standard going forward in my career."

That message is one of respect: self-respect and respect for other people. His songs allow the audience a glimpse into his life and emotions, showcasing vulnerability along with strength. It's a dichotomy perhaps best illustrated by the velvety-voiced crooner's penchant for performing in WWE T-shirts.

"Don't expect an R&B show," Omar said. "I started off as a rapper, I know that atmosphere, and I loved it and I never want to let go of those types of things in my performance. It's high energy. … Flat out, we have fun. Don't expect an R&B show: Expect to be jumping and having a good time."

After the shows on the Solaris Stage wrap up, head to Dobson Ice Arena for the late-night party featuring headliner D.R.A.M. along with the "DJ's DJ" Four Color Zach and Air Credits, a collaboration between two of Chicago's hottest hip-hop acts, Hood Internet and ShowYouSuck.

It's a full-throttle event with a live music soundtrack to score the weekend. Whether you come for the rock or R&B, to see established favorites or discover your new jam, the Burton U.S. Open lineup will rock the mountains in Vail.

Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships schedule

All on-mountain competitions take place at Golden Peak.

Monday, Feb. 27

10 a.m. to noon — Halfpipe and slopestyle practice, Session 1

1 to 3 p.m. — Halfpipe and slopestyle practice, Session 2

Tuesday, Feb. 28

10 a.m. to noon — Slopestyle practice, Session 1

10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Junior Jam (halfpipe)

12:30 to 3 p.m. — Halfpipe practice

1 to 3 p.m. — Slopestyle practice, Session 2

Wednesday, March 1

9 a.m. — Women’s slopestyle semifinals practice

10 a.m. — Women’s slopestyle semifinals competition

10 a.m. to noon — Halfpipe practice, Session 1

11:10 a.m. — Men’s slopestyle semifinals practice

12:30 p.m. — Men’s slopestyle semifinals competition

1 to 3 p.m. — Halfpipe practice, Session 2

4 to 7 p.m. — US Open Broomball Tournament, Solaris Ice Rink

7 to 9:30 p.m. — Free concert: The Record Company and Oyster Kids, with DJ Cre8 and DJ Naka G, Solaris Concert Stage

7:15 to 7:45 p.m. — Junior Jam Awards, Solaris Concert Stage

8:30 p.m. — Chill party and fundraiser, Bo Bridges Gallery

Thursday, March 2

9 a.m. — Women’s halfpipe semifinals practice

10 a.m. — Women’s halfpipe semifinals competition

10 a.m. to noon — Slopestyle practice, Session 1

11:10 a.m. — Men’s halfpipe semifinals practice

12:30 p.m. — Men’s halfpipe semifinals competition

1 to 3 p.m. — Slopestyle practice, Session 2

4 to 7 p.m. — US Open Broomball Tournament, Solaris Ice Rink

7 to 9:30 p.m. — Free concert: Double set from Twiddle, with DJ Cre8, Solaris Concert Stage

Friday, March 3

10 a.m. — Women’s slopestyle finals practice

10 a.m. to noon — Halfpipe practice, Session 1

11:10 a.m. — Women’s slopestyle finals competition

12:45 p.m. — Men’s slopestyle finals practice

1 to 3 p.m. — Halfpipe practice, Session 2

2 p.m. — Men’s slopestyle finals competition

2 p.m. — Burton Girls Ride and Apres, Burton Girls Tent, Sponsor Village

2 p.m. — Burton Team Autograph Session, Burton Store, Lionshead Village

6 to 9:30 p.m. — Free concert: Gramatik and Lizzo, with DJ Cre8 and DJ Naka G, Solaris Concert Stage

Saturday, March 4

10 a.m. — Women’s halfpipe finals practice

11:10 a.m. — Women’s halfpipe finals competition

12:45 p.m. — Men’s halfpipe finals practice

2 p.m. — Men’s halfpipe finals competition

2 p.m. — Anon Team Rider Autograph Session, Tent Sponsor Village, Golden Peak

2 p.m. — Burton Team Rider Autograph Session, Burton Pop-up Store, Sponsor Village, Golden Peak

6 to 9:30 p.m. — Free concert: Keys N Krates, Skratch Bastid and Xavier Omar, with DJ Cre8 and DJ Naka G, Solaris Concert Stage

9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. — U.S. Open Closing Party: D.R.A.M., Four Color Zack and Air Credits, with DJ Cre8, Dobson Ice Arena