Built around the idea of community gathering, live music is struggling to survive this year due to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines. Bands are unable to tour. Venues are unable to book and promote shows. Fans are left isolated, unable to partake in their ritual of sonic communion. In order to get by, several trends have developed in the last few months.
Bands around the United States are now live streaming performances. Record labels have also taken to live streaming. Other labels have started live shows featuring members of bands on their roster.
Venues have slowly been opening up. Several twenty-one and up venues have opened already and are putting on small, local shows. The caveat to these shows is that the venue security requires attendees to wear masks. However, once people enter the venue and get settled, many of them proceed to take off their masks. Band members, besides vocalists, are wearing masks on stage, and have been able to adapt their styled masks into their on-stage look. Mercury Lounge started live streaming various shows and adding a virtual donation box for the bands performing. BAR had three Christian rock and metal bands play as they live streamed their sets for Exodo Fest, an annual Christian metal festival in Mexico.
Larger venues that hold upwards of 200 occupants still have not opened in the Tulsa region. The Vanguard, IDL Ballroom and 89th Street in Oklahoma City are still closed. Those who work at these venues have had to find jobs elsewhere over the summer, as these mid-level venues struggle to get through this season. 89th Street managed to raise $10,000 in a GoFundMe campaign in June and July.
Despite a quiet summer in 2020, live music seems to be coming sooner than expected. Bands are starting to announce tours. Festivals for 2021 are already being promoted. Texas country band Flatland Cavalry are playing in Cain’s Ballroom on Sept 11. The Oklahoma City venue, 89th Street, announced a reopening with their first concert on Sept 29 with 2000’s emo legends Hawthorne Heights headlining the bill. More venues are preparing to open and host shows and events. Whether moshing at a metal show or square dancing at a country show, staying safe at shows and wearing a mask should remain the priority to help the venues and artists continue to provide live music to fans.