We’ve reached the year mark without concerts as shows have been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we’ve been thankful for bands that have gotten creative by holding Livestream and virtual events, as well as quarantine Zoom jams, Metal Insider contributors have reflected on life without shows in the physical form during this time of uncertainty.
Bram Teitelman: I might be among the minority here, but while I can’t say I don’t miss live music, it’s not like there’s a deep aching void in my life like so many of my other fellow music fans. I guess that’s because I’m looking at it in the context of the bigger picture. I remember hearing a band talking about cancelling touring last February and thinking it was a ridiculous overreaction. By the time it became obvious that this was something to be taken seriously, I’d gotten COVID myself (early March). A terrifying global pandemic that made everyone alter their lives overnight made not being able to see live music seem petty in comparison.
Granted, it was disappointing to see tours that we’d been looking forward to get moved and then cancelled, and tons of bands that were planning on releasing music in conjunction with touring suddenly altered those plans as well. And the touring and concert industry was hit super hard, with some venues closing and the hardworking people behind the concert industry found themselves without a job that they’d more or less taken for granted. Many of the musicians made do with livestreams, some of which were more lucrative and way less time consuming than actually touring. And if there’s a silver lining, the pandemic jams that musicians have been doing (as evidenced by Two Minutes to Late Night and our buds at Metal Injection’s Slay at Home Fests) proved that there were new and different ways to for musicians from around the globe to make great music together. That being said, watching live music via a computer is the modern day equivalent of listening to a live album on a twice-copied cassette tape – for the most part, a pale imitation of the majesty of seeing music played in front of your face in a dark club that smells like stale beer.
Ministry and Corey Taylor just announced tours this week, and there will probably be more tours announced by the day, and as more people decide to get vaccinated, it appears that a slow recovery is starting to take place. It’s not going to be the same as it was before, as I’d imagine you’ll be needing to show test results and get your temperature taken instead of just showing your ticket. That being said,the first time I walk into a venue, pay too much money for a beer, and hear the all too familiar roar of a guitar and the chest -rattling beat of a bass drum, I think it’ll hit me how much I missed live music.
Matt Brown: My last concert was Dream Theater in March 2019, almost a full year before the pandemic was declared. I went with my brother, a huge DT fan who had no idea they were going to play Scenes From A Memory in its entirety.
A few months later I became a dad, and that meant no concerts for a long time. But I had hoped that when my wife and I got our bearings as parents then maybe I/we would be able to attend one or two shows in 2020. Obviously that didn’t happen.
Honestly though, I haven’t been super broken up about it. Do I miss going to shows? Of course. Do I feel bad for struggling bands and concert venues? Absolutely. But I had already resigned myself to not being to go to shows all the time like I used to. The first full year of my kid’s life was always going to be my first priority, so it’s entirely likely I would have gone all 2020 without seeing a show anyway, regardless of whether there was a pandemic or not.
Jeff Podoshen: How do I feel about life without concerts for over a year? Well, let’s put it this way. My two primary forms of non-streaming entertainment are: a) walking down my driveway to get the mail (which may or may not actually get delivered that day) and b) going food shopping at Wegmans that’s already jammed up with too many other shoppers. So am I looking forward to concerts again? Hell yeah I am. First band I really want to see live is Kankar.
Elise Yablon: To be honest, I really haven’t thought that hard about going/not going to shows. I didn’t go to that many shows before the pandemic because I couldn’t really afford to go to them or my work hours prevented me from going. That being said, when I think about the feeling of being at a show, I do miss the excitement, comradery and music surrounding me. The last show I went to was an acoustic set by Lagwagon frontman Joey Cape at a bar in Amityville in early March 2020. Those kinds of small, intimate events are some of my favorites and it will feel really good to go back to those when it’s safe.
I love live streams (free ones, I’ve never purchased a ticket to a paid stream), but to me they’re not the same genre of viewing as concerts.
Even though shows are slowly starting to be rebooked and more people are getting vaccinated, I still don’t know how quickly I’ll be going back to packed indoor venues (not that I haven’t gone food shopping or hung around the mall). The last year has rewired my brain to distrust crowds and I think that will take a while to change back. I’ll test the waters with outdoor shows first.
Zenae Zukowski: Livestreams are not the same as concerts. When I would go to a show, I would also catch up with my friends and do what I love doing: concert photography. Both have been eliminated to the point I wonder if I will still have friends and if concert photography will pick up once shows return. So much has changed since, and that “pandemic paranoia” is real. We’re all struggling with something during this time, which hanging out with your buds doesn’t feel right just yet. I’ve been rather fortunate, working from home this entire time where my communication is mostly with my six pets or yelling at Alexa.
Over the weekend, I was thinking about how I feel now, one year later, and it feels like I’ve been living in a bomb shelter from the 50s. I barely go out, and when I do, it’s mainly taking my pets to the vet or walking in the same circle for my dog to take care of her business. I’ve been isolated for the most part, and I get everything delivered. My perspective has changed too as I refuse and no longer feel safe taking the subway. I also don’t miss spending three hours a day commuting to work, especially after doing just fine working from home. Working from home is something I’m going to fight for as I believe people should have a choice, especially when it comes to the importance of safety and what’s best for one’s mental health and overall well being.
However, for shows, as much as I miss them, I don’t think I will be the first in line once they officially return. We don’t know how the safety procedures will look like, and we don’t know the turnout of the vaccines since there are still 50,000 new COVID cases per day. I spent this entire time avoiding getting COVID-19, and I like to keep it that way. I look at these tour and festival announcements in the US and it doesn’t seem real when there are countries in Europe that have entered another lockdown. So yes, I’m highly skeptical. I do have tentative plans to attend Rockville later this year in November but, I’m not certain just yet.
One odd occurrence is, I’ve had recurring dreams about concert photography throughout this pandemic. My camera would malfunction, or I’d forget how to change the settings, etc., during big shows like Tool while my photography friends were shooting just fine. I think I also dreamt about going to 70000tons of Metal the most. If there’s any event I miss wholeheartedly, it’s 70000tons. I just had a dream about this a few days ago when I took my dog on the cruise. So yeah, I miss concerts, but I’m also not in a rush to attending one until I see how things really play out.
Chris Annunziata: Going a full year without attending any shows is something I never thought would happen. The summer of 2020 was supposed to be the pinnacle of shows for me, as nearly all my favorite bands were touring between those 2 months. In a blink of an eye, it was all gone. Livestreams have been great in the time being but cannot replace live shows. As Bram mentioned, events like Slay at Home Fest have exposed me to amazing bands that I probably wouldn’t have discovered on my own. Fortunately, not going to shows every week has allowed me to save a good chunk of money. With shows being rescheduled and announced, it looks like Between the Buried and Me on August 8th will be my first taste of live music in over a year. It will be interesting to see how things will pan out.