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Up all night

Collin Szewczyk
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Fans line up outside of Belly Up Aspen hoping to score tickets to Widespread Panic's three-night run, February 17-19.
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ASPEN, Colorado – “Feels like 5 degrees,” the Weather Channel website noted of the temperature in Aspen as the clock tipped past midnight on Nov. 4.

My buddy J.C. and I were going to brave the cold to try and score tickets to our dream show.

Widespread Panic had recently announced that they were playing three nights at Belly Up Aspen, the last three shows prior to an extended hiatus from touring.



Are they going on vacation or is this the last dance?

It’s difficult to understand how much Panic means to fans of the music. It’s more than a concert, it’s a merging of energies, it’s hanging out with best friends known or unknown, it’s a damn good party. Not much was going to stand in the way of our attempt to procure tickets.



Not even Godzilla.

I first saw Panic in 1997 while in college at Southern Illinois and was very impressed. Although years passed until I’d see them again, thoughts of the music always brought back fond memories. I’ve since seen countless shows, but few venues can match the intimate setting offered by the Belly Up.

We have to get these tickets.

I haven’t waited overnight for concert tickets since 1991. That was for Van Halen.

That was also in the summertime.

We were about to sleep outside in Aspen on a cold cement slab in November to get Widespread Panic tickets. … Makes sense to me.

Head to toe in my ice climbing outfit, looking like a big wooly mammoth, with emergency PBR in hand, I left the comforts of home and waited patiently for J.C. to scoop me up.

After the requisite police traffic stop in Glenwood, we were off.

We arrived in Aspen just before 2 a.m., and met up with J.C.’s friend Seth, who was anchoring the back of the line.

We were numbers 23 and 24 in line.

The math was promising and we assured ourselves that there’d still be tickets when our turn came.

It was a very friendly scene as music lovers from all over Colorado introduced themselves and the Belly Up provided propane heaters and hot coffee for the small crowd.

Very cool – or warm – of them.

In line we told stories of tours past and shared food, extra blankets and laughs.

There was more give than gimme.

Throughout the night random Aspenites came by asking what we were doing, and if we were Occupy Aspen.

Most hung out to chat, many offered to buy us coffee or hot chocolate.

The owner of New York Pizza came by and gave us free slices.

In this part of town there are good people.

A red fox seemed interested in what we were doing and hung out for a while.

Some scraps of food were tossed to him and he ran about pickin’ up the pieces.

As the night wore on many curled up in sleeping bags and dozed off.

Around 5:30 a.m., temperatures plummeted, we had hit an all time low.

We were hungry, tired and cold. Why couldn’t there be a 24-hour diner in town?

But soon a flicker of light came over the mountains to the east, we had made it though the night.

The morning sun was a welcome sight, as we packed up our “camp” and filed into line.

Rejuvenated by the sun’s warmth, time flew by and it was 10 a.m. before we knew it.

Tickets were on sale. The line was moving, this was it! Until the line slowed to a halt as we were halfway down the Belly Up stairs.

Minutes oozed by. Something had to be wrong.

A thought raced into my mind: “No bad vibes.”

It would be alright. It didn’t matter that people in line on iPhones were locking in tickets, a set amount was sitting inside the box office, safe from Internet and phone sales.

Agonizing minute after minute passed, and finally the ticket counter was in sight.

One by one elated fans walked away with tickets.

Except for one.

Why is the tall guy still at the ticket counter?

Is it sold out?

He’s cheating, he’s buying all the tickets. … The dream is crushed.

My emotions were racing.

It’s the end of the show. This is the last straw.

No, calm down. It ain’t no use getting upset.

Down to two customers in front of us.

Then one.

“It’s cool, we’re golden,” J.C. confidently announced.

“Are there tickets left for Sunday?” I asked.

“Yes, how many would you like?” the lovely woman behind the counter replied.

The quest was complete.

Ticket in hand, I walked out into the afternoon light and felt the weight of the world fall from my shoulders.

Seth, J.C. and I headed over to Johnny McGuire’s for some lunch.

One though resonated in our heads: Ain’t life grand.


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