With COVID-19 still wreaking havoc across the world, musicians and fans alike are missing the normality of the live music scene more than ever. Throughout the duration of this global pandemic, innovation has been key to keep the spirit of live music alive. Livestreams were organised to fill the void and celebrities, like Katy Perry, got extra creative to interact with fans and continue performing.
Let’s be real though, it’s just not the same… which is why it’s incredibly exciting to see successful COVID-safe gigs now taking place in Australia, England and New Zealand.
In Australia, cases of COVID have been relatively low and manageable in majority of the country’s states. Fortunately, this means live music venues are welcoming fans back through their doors and in turn, getting the much-needed economical support necessary to remain open.
Australian rock band, DMAs, sold out 18 “unplugged and intimate” shows at the Factory Theatre in Sydney. Amidst the release of their latest album ‘THE GLOW’, the band performed two shows per night, with support acts included on the line-up for fans lucky enough to score tickets. They were lucky because the venue capacity was significantly reduced to establish a COVID-safe event. The length of the band’s set was also decreased, a reminder of the risks when crowds gather for prolonged periods of time. Social distancing was ensured with a strict seating plan. Tables and chairs were spread across the venue with fans required to remain seated for the entire duration of the show. No wandering across the venue to socialise with a nearby group or to find a better viewing spot. No dancing. No mosh pits.
Similarly, another Australian band, Lime Cordiale, performed multiple sold out shows at the Oxford Art Factory in Sydney with identical setups. Socially distanced tables, shorter sets and an incredibly intimate crowd. Each gig had a capacity capped at 70, making them incredibly popular (and perfectly timed with the release of the band’s latest album, ‘14 Steps to a Better You‘). Lime Cordiale’s performances were promoted as a “speakeasy” – notably catering to the more subdued nature of COVID-safe concerts.
This subdued nature was not present when Sam Fender took to the stage in Newcastle, England this week. In what must be one of the most inventive approaches to COVID-safe concerts, the event was held outdoors, allowing a larger capacity of fans to be present and a much larger event to take place. Hundreds of pens were erected in Newcastle’s Gosforth Park to ensure social distancing was at the forefront of the gig.
— TyneSight Photographic Services (@TyneSightPhoto) August 11, 2020
— Virgin Money Unity Arena (@VMUnityArena) August 11, 2020
Attendees were allocated their own private viewing platform (pens) where their group could enjoy the performance together and simultaneously reduce the risk of coming into close contact with others. Masks were mandatory when arriving, departing, and using the bar or toilet facilities at the event. These protocols were also combined with staggered arrival times, ensuring fans maintained social distancing practices.
Sam Fender live in Newcastle tonight – the first socially distanced large scale concert. Very civilised. Seems to work. 600 pens with 5 family/friends per pen. Sensible loo/bar/food arrangements. It’s the future! And least for the foreseeable…… pic.twitter.com/WN0NJsyCXc
— Brian Ham (@_BrianHam) August 11, 2020
It’s exciting to see the resurgence of live music taking place, comforting knowing that organisers are prioritising the health and safety of fans, crew and artists in COVID effected countries.
Despite recently recording new COVID cases, New Zealand was previously enjoying approximately 100 days of zero community transmission. For this reason, there were no restrictions in place for the country, allowing fans to attend regular concerts. Yes, concerts with sweaty mosh pits, dancing and the most impressive arena productions you can imagine.
There's a glimmer of stage lights post-lockdown, as New Zealand band, L.A.B, plays to a sold-out crowd at Spark Arena, Auckland. Here's to many more live events! #WeMakeEvents #LetTheMusicPlay https://t.co/IQaAesTZxX
— Agile Remote Cameras (@agileremotecams) July 14, 2020
It’s the world fans are dreaming of, hoping for; a return to live music events of this scale without the fear and restrictions of a global pandemic.
The power of live music cannot be underestimated, particularly in times of struggle (and let’s be real, we’re all struggling through 2020). Despite the enormity of some concerts and festivals, they’re a safe space for many, giving fans the opportunity to express their most authentic selves and socialise with likeminded individuals. When you’re dancing in a crowd of hundreds or thousands, the atmosphere is electric, and the energy is contagious. Concerts and festivals ignite joy, comfort, and hope and we have no doubt that more of these incredible COVID-safe events will slowly start taking place around the world.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay hopeful.
Who would you love to see perform a COVID-safe concert? Let us know on Twitter @unitedbypop