This pandemic has affected everything. Consider the fact that any public space that contains large groups of people can no longer be the case. When one describes best memories with friends, it often comes down to 2 things. Live music and being in close proximity with good friends. These two things are now being torn apart and it’s creating one of the biggest crisis to hit the music industry since the dawn of file sharing recorded music over the internet.
Music’s life blood is its audience. The relationship between the crafted sound and recipient is what keeps the art inventive and vital with musicians often feeding off the excitement their audience give to their performances. As such, the music industry is up in arms in how to adapt to the new world of social distanced events and how to keep music live.
Music journalist and friend, Peter Dvorak, considers the challenge facing the live concert. Since our friendship was built upon the shared experiences of music events and losing ourselves to landscapes of sound that could never be recreated on stereos at home, I was eager to hear his take on the dilemma and how it might find resolve. Since the realization that Covid-19 is not going away in any time soon, the importance of reinventing the crowd has millions of music lovers fixated on what promoters and venues suggest in response to the law that social gatherings of more than 6 can no longer group together.
Luckily there’s been ‘live’ life after Covid. Peter identifies three examples that despite their crude realizations, present a level of optimism for both musicians and audiences alike.
Here are three ways in which the cherished gig could survive the pandemic, realized through examples of musicians this year.
The Flaming Lips. Bubble Balls
The Flaming Lips made a triumphant bold stand in defiance of the public space restrictions from Covid. Performing a complete set in their hometown of Oklahoma City, US, the cult band performed inside 8-foot plastic inflated balls, encasing their breath inside the enclosed dome for the safety of their audience and each other. The audience following suit made for spectacle of Avant Garde art performance and set a sense of unity between performers and fans.
Considering the cost of the material along with the reduced capacity of paying customers means a hike in ticket prices but as a statement of possibility, The Flaming Lips are certainly a band not going out without a fight.
Future Islands. Live streamed singular gig
The Baltimore based synth pop band responded to crisis tentatively by marking the occasion of completing their recent album by performing a single concert where tickets were sold to watch them perform across the internet. The domestic space as a substitute for the concert hall doesn’t bode well for discerning music fans but it presents some level of interim answer to bands being able to reach their audience through their live performance.
Dizzied Rascal. Drive Thru Concert tour.
Perhaps the most practical and promising concept was witnessed from the Grime don East London rapper Dizzee Rascal. Emulating the drive in cinema concept, Dizzee is performing festival style concerts in open fields where audience members are permitted to drive and park their cars and enjoy the concert from their very own platforms with generous spacing between other audience members. So far this has been the most practical and repeated practice for the live gig.