Concerts Continue to Cope With COVID

With the corona vaccine taking longer than expected to roll out, many musicians and other entertainers are choosing to cancel shows while others try to stay afloat by performing on virtual platforms. With several top artists like Justin Bieber, Morgan Wallen, and Dave Matthews already providing online concerts to their fans, as well as many symphonies and operas following suit, things are unlikely to change in the coming year. And it’s not just the artists doing all the heavy lifting. Sites that specialize in bringing entertainment to the masses, such as stagit.com, have been offering ways to connect with audiences live online for a while now.

Symphonies, operas, and other classical music venues have also suffered under COVID restrictions. Many have performed online shows in controlled environments to entertain fans from home.

Most musicians are at least trying to stay safe.

Meanwhile, many other artists are still performing at live venues with controlled crowds while doing their best to follow safety guidelines. This is especially true with bands that are just starting out and are eager to perform so they can grow their budding careers. The good news is that these risk takers will often only play at places where they feel the host is following COVID regulations to protect both the band and the crowd alike. No musician wants to cancel their first tour after getting sick. Take Texas’ music scene for example. Like all states and their high-population cities, the music scene is closely tied to restaurants and other entertainment venues.

In the last month, Texas restaurants began to reopen at 25% capacity, and that number will soon be 50%. While many people are reluctant to rejoin society, mindful of potential run-ins with COVID-19 carriers, others are willing to take the chance for a night out. The presence of live music doesn’t hurt when trying to lure crowds out of their caves, but as venues begin offering live music as an incentive for patrons, musicians have mixed feelings about whether they even want the gig.

Eva Raggio – The Dallas Observer
Fans attend a Mo-Torres rap concert while staying within plexiglass barriers to maintain social distance.

Other artists are choosing to carefully perform lives shows while they get the chance as restrictions begin to lift in certain areas. German rap star Mo-Torres from Cologne is a good example of this. He had been performing live from his recording studio to keep his fans safe, and when restrictions were lifted he chose to hold a concert that made sure to follow German COVID requirements. It allowed concert goers to attend in a safe environment while also streaming live to viewers at home.

While most behave, some continue to break the rules.

While most musicians and their venues have done well in adhering to COVID regulations, a few bad apples are simply ignoring them. LA rock band Steel Panther recently played three packed shows in Florida with the majority of people not wearing masks or practicing social distancing. And it’s not just the US. The underground music scene in Europe has been especially problematic as many continue hosting electronic dance parties and music festivals with thousands of ravers defying curfews, lockdowns, and safety regulations.

Many crowded events that ignore COVID regulations quickly become “super-spreaders”. This is due to many attendants traveling from different areas to join the crowds before returning home to spread the virus around their local communities.

Unfortunately this is nothing new. South Dakota’s motorcycle rally was packed back in August as thousands from across the country gathered in mass. Nearly everyone ignored safety precautions while attending a variety of crowded events, including a rather large Smash Mouth concert. With most attendees being from different cities/states the gathering has been argued as one of many “super-spreader” events that helped spike the virus according to research published by the Center for Health Economics and Policy Studies at San Diego State University. Since then many events have gone on while continuing to challenge COVID safety regulations.

Many believe that local law enforcement is too lax in their authority over state/city regulations. However political leaders have been cautious in their approach of pushing enforcement to crack down on gatherings that, until recently, were perfectly legal. Restricting citizens’ basic freedoms is never an easy task for someone trying to keep them happy during such trying times. Thus, police guidelines for dealing with those breaking the newly imposed COVID policies have been using a gentle hand for the most part. Just take a look at “The Four Es” rules for police over in Britain.

  • Engage with people, to ask why they appear to be breaking the rules.
  • Explain the law, stressing the risks to public health and the NHS.
  • Encourage them to change their behavior.
  • Enforce by issuing penalty notices, as a last resort.

Overall that’s a pretty tame list considering how much of a danger crowded events pose in spreading the virus. It’s a tempered, balanced approach to the issue between freedom and safety. It largely falls on citizens to follow the rules and do what’s best for their community, and not the police in strictly enforcing them.

Enjoying an event live at home might not be as much fun, but it’s a whole lot safer!

While the future looks bright and concerts are assumed to continue as they once did before the pandemic, it may still be awhile before we get to that point. In the meantime fans are being asked to attend virtual events while staying home. If they want to risk going out they are beseeched to at least choose places that are following safety protocols to prevent the virus, and its new, more contagious strain, from spreading faster than it already is. Stay strong, and stay safe out there, music fans!

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