Concerts in the Age of COVID-19

Over the past few months, my Facebook notifications have been an onslaught of “Cancelled,” “Cancelled,” “Postponed,” “Cancelled.” Thousands of tours and events have been cancelled or postponed due to the spread of COVID-19 and subsequent safety regulations. While many artists have already turned to livestreams, the warming temperatures and relaxing social distancing measures mean to many that it’s time to bring on the concert season! Concerts these days won’t be the same as they were pre-corona, but musicians and promoters have come up with some creative solutions to keep fans safe while still enjoying live music.

Drive-In Concerts

One of the first concerts to happen in the COVID-19 era was a drive-in concert in Denmark, where artist Mads Langer performed to 500 attendees, drive-in theater style. The concert-goers listened to the event via FM radio in their cars, and were able to interact with Langer via Zoom. 

Parking lots may be the venue of tomorrow, today!
“Big empty parking Lot” by Anthony Silveira is licensed under CC by 2.0

The idea of drive-in concerts has recently taken hold in the US as well. Artists such as DJ D-Nice and Keith Urban have performed free drive-in concerts for first responders. Paid concerts for the general public have also started to pop up around the country. In Texas, for example, the Texas Rangers have organized a “Concert In Your Car” series, scheduled for June 4-7. Tickets were $40 per car ($80 for VIP parking, closest to the stage) and sold out in minutes. 

Read more about the Mads Langer show and drive-in concerts in the US.

Socially Distant Concerts

On Monday, May 18, Arkansas venue TempleLive held the first indoor concert in the US since the beginning of the US COVID-19 shutdown. The concert was originally scheduled for the previous Friday, but was rescheduled to Monday so that the venue could follow the Department of Health’s guidelines. 

While the venue’s normal capacity is 1,200, only 229 attendees were allowed for this event. Staff took the attendees’ temperatures with infrared thermometers at the door, and checked that attendees were wearing masks as required. Inside, fans sat in ‘fan pods’ so that groups of concert-goers could stay the recommended six feet apart. Stickers and tape on the floor directed attendees to stand six feet apart when queueing for merch or concessions. 

While the event brought well-needed live music to fans, promoters doubt that this type of event could be financially sustainable. If events’ capacities are reduced by 80%, that severely reduces the promoter’s income, meaning that they will not have enough income to pay artists their usual guarantee. 

Read the full story over at Rolling Stone.

Reverse Concerts

Tyler Reed of Second Suitor performing acoustically outdoors

One interesting solution to this dilemma has been created by DIY pop-punk band Second Suitor, from Binghamton, NY. Instead of the fans going to the concert, they brought the concert to the fans! On May 22 and 23, Second Suitor’s vocalist Tyler Reed played a ‘social distancing tour.’ For $10+, Reed would drive to your house and play 3 songs acoustically from your sidewalk/driveway, while you watch/listen from inside your home.

While these first performances were solo acoustic, they hope to find a way to ‘tour’ as a full band. 

Check out the full story on local news station WBNG, and listen to the band’s music on bandcamp or Spotify.

What’s still on the books for 2020?

While many 2020 events have been cancelled, there’s still quite a few big events planning to carry on this year. Major festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo have postponed till the fall (though news today makes a Coachella cancellation sound imminent). Other festivals already scheduled for the fall, such as Blue Ridge Rock Festival, are cooking up extra safety measures to keep the event health-department-compliant and safe for all attendees.

No concerts happening near you yet? Check out the best livestreams that have happened during quarantine so far.

Want to add a stream to your Concert Archives account? You can add it just like any other show! For the ‘Location’, put ‘Livestream.’ For the ‘Venue’, you can leave it blank or put the location where the artist performed.

Want to learn more about the jobs of people who make concerts happen? Check out our Behind the Show series!

Have any upcoming non-traditional concerts happening near you? Let us know in the comments below!

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