Here’s What the First Socially Distant Concert Looked Like
Travis McCready, frontman of the Southern rock band Bishop Gunn, played a socially distant concert on Monday night (May 18), testing out a "fan pod" system at a venue in Arkansas. While most of the traditional elements of a concert were there, it was still a far cry from what concertgoers are used to.
McCready's show was one of the United States' first live music events with an audience since the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic caused the temporary banning of mass gatherings beginning in mid-March. In order to adhere to social distancing guidelines and other CDC recommendations for stopping the spread of the coronavirus, capacity at the 1,100-person TempleLive theater in Fort Smith was reduced to 229 people. Fans were seated in groups of 2-13, dubbed "pods," with each pod distanced from the others.
Face masks were mandatory for those attending McCready's show, and each person's temperature was checked before they entered the venue. Floors were marked as one-way throughout the venue, restroom capacity was capped, and extra sanitizing procedures were enacted. As readers will see in the photo gallery below, caution tape was used throughout the venue to cordon off restricted areas and ensure fans followed all safety measures.
"It’s just nice to feel normal again," one fan told Fort Smith's KFSM-TV. "Even with a face mask on, it’s nice to be doing something normal."
LOOK: Here's What the First Socially Distant Concert Looked Like
Arkansas' first phase of reopening following pandemic-related closures allows large music venues to begin hosting shows at 33 percent capacity, as long as attendees wear face masks, as of May 18, the Times Record explains. McCready's show was originally scheduled for Friday (May 15), forcing the state to issue a cease-and-desist order and TempleLive Vice President Mike Brown challenging them.
Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control then took away the venue's liquor license, promising to reinstate it as long as the concert was moved to an appropriate date. TempleLive complied. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, ticket prices for the show dropped from $20 to $15 in the days leading up to the concert. It's unclear if the show sold out.
Much of the 2020 concert calendar has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with many artists canceling or postponing their tour plans for the year. While some have turned to online livestreams to play for their fans, the idea of drive-in concerts is gaining traction after a Danish artist successfully played one in April: Five Texas-based country artists are set for a series of drive-in shows in Arlington in early June.
Mass gatherings, such as concerts, are still banned throughout the U.S., in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Until a COVID-19 vaccine is available, they will remain risky endeavors, a fact that, per a recent survey, may keep many fans from attending shows even if they return before a vaccine is produced.
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