Inspired by the tragedy at the Astroworld, where nine fans died, Slate remembers huge 1960s festivals Woodstock and Altamont where fans also died due to poor organizing and places being overcrowded. The black highpoint of the 1970s arena rock came in 1969 at the The Who concert at Riverfront Coliseum where 11 fans died. When punk came, it brought its own DIY-ethos, much smaller venues, and the podium where "orchestrated chaos" of pogo-dancing seemed dangerous, whereas actually "watch-your-peers" rule made everyone much safer. A great point, Slate!

"The performer who emerged amid the skyline of the Strip came with a vibe—explosive, poetic, passionate, true—that reverberated deep into the souls of the 50,000+ festival-goers who turned up to see him" - Consequence reviews Kendrick Lamar's first US performance in two years. Billboard puts it simply: "Kendrick Lamar's Day N Vegas performance was art". Rolling Stone describes it as "casually dazzling".

"I felt a little bit of pressure: 'This is our first show in a while, I hope we’re not too rusty'. But I think actually the audiences were equally rusty: everyone was coming into it with a kind of fascination and curiosity and openness that really lent itself well to the evening" - Sarathy Korwar told the Guardian about his return to gigs. The London paper also talked to Mogwai, Corinne Baily Rae, Sleaford Mods, Jayda G, and others.

Rule zero: No bats
August 25, 2021

Live music industry's rules for the next year

Music industry journalist Eamonn Forde has put forward a new set of rules that could improve concerts for everyone; via Music Business Worldwide:

1) No guestlist tickets for at least a year

2) Anyone talking during the performance is immediately ejected and banned from every concert venues and festival for six months

3) Anyone taking photos or videos during the show will have their phone smashed with a lump hammer in front of their eyes

4) Buy as much merchandise as you can afford

5) The end of hidden booking and/or processing fees

6) Loyalty cards for regular concertgoers

7) No U2 shows until at least 2035

The two biggest American concert promoters, Live Nation and AEG, have imposed vaccine mandates on all their venues and festivals. New York City began requiring proof of vaccination for entry to all indoor performances. Plenty of artists have canceled shows and tours, others are demanding proof of vaccination to attend a show - Music REDEF publishes a thread on the rules of attending a show.

Live Nation announced a run of new $20 “all in” ticket prices for nearly 1,000 outdoor amphitheater shows in the US taking place this year, Music Business Worldwide reports. Artists who will be playing shows under the $20 ticket offer include the Jonas Brothers, Kings Of Leon, Zac Brown Band, Trippie Redd, Maroon 5, Alanis Morissette, Lil Baby, KISS, and Korn. The $20 tickets will be available to the general public starting next Wednesday, July 28th at 12pm ET/9am PT on for a limited time only.

Cultural critic Steven Hyden discusses the no-band-t-shirt-to-that-band-gig rule in his latest blog post. He first makes a distinction - it's quite ubiquitous on a metal show, but a no-no at an indie-rock show. His point: "When you go to show, nobody cares about what you are wearing. If there is one quality that all humans share, it’s that we’re all too wrapped up in ourselves to think about the shirts on the backs of strangers".

The great music theorist Adam Neely's jazz band Gungazer restarted touring, and he has shared a video of the band talking about how and what to perform at their The Sultan Room concert. A lot of "do ba do", "duh", and "wub" talk, but they seem to understand each other perfectly.

Country not big enough for smaller bands
July 02, 2021

Crowded stage: Indie bands having trouble booking shows

"Live Nation and AEG executives aren’t exactly running to answer calls from indie bands, while chart-topping acts like Twenty One Pilots and Tame Impala are much safer bets, guaranteed to sell out reopening arenas" - Rolling Stone points out to the issue of over-crowded touring calendar, in the US at least. "Venues are being queried by dozens of agents for the same slots and have to make pragmatic bottom-line decisions. And since Covid threw the staggered album-release cycle out of whack, concert dates on the entire docket right now are essentially a free-for-all".

Gig is elsewhere
June 24, 2021

Numerous tours announced

In just the last 72 hours alone, a bevy of major US tours has been announced. Consequence (has a dedicated live music subsite) picks out a few of the biggest ones:

- Elton John has announced the final leg of his farewell tour
- Lorde has announced the first tour dates behind her new album 'Solar Power'
- J Cole has mapped out a tour in support of his latest album 'The Off-Season' - GZA, Raekwon, and Ghostface Killah are teaming up for the 'Chambers 3 Tour'
- Violent Femmes and Flogging Molly are teaming up for a co-headlining US tour

The live music industry in the UK is facing massive staff shortages as gigs begin to return - industry bodies have written to the UK prime minister Boris Johnson calling for the government to help fill vacant roles, NME reports. They suggest the government "temporarily ease immigration requirements for the large numbers of workers, particularly from the EU, who have returned to their homelands during the lockdowns". A study in 2020 by the UK’s Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence estimated that 1.3 million migrants left the UK between July 2019 and September 2020.

REDEF Set started a new curated collection of articles Live Music 2.0(21), about the state of live music in the (vaccinated part of the) world. There are several paths that could be taken: vaccinated fans in the orchestra section wearing black wristbands, non-vaccinated (but negative-tested) fans in the balconies, everybody in masks (like the Los Angeles Opera); Springsteen on Broadway will reopen end of June - attendees will need proof of vaccination and a photo ID to get in; club doors open to a full-capacity crowd, masks encouraged but not required.

"It may have been only 10 minutes, but I'll be thinking about my One-to-One Concert with Mario Gotoh for a long time to come" - NPR's Jeff Lunden wrote after attending a concert where there was a musician - and himself. These concerts are the brainchild of German flutist Stephanie Winker and a couple of colleagues, who wanted to create an unusually intimate musical experience. Launched two years ago in Stuttgart, they've been done in Australia, Japan, India, across Europe, and the US, and have proven quite suitable in corona-times

Land of the vaccinated, the home of the gigs
May 18, 2021

Live music is back - in the US

New concerts are being added on a daily basis to the touring schedule in the US, mostly by American artists, thanks to the high vaccination rate. Trapital's Dan Runcie asks, rightfully so, "will you have the energy (and money) to still attend all their shows in the post-pandemic boom?". Live Nation's CEO Michael Rapino sits down with Recode’s Peter Kafka to talk about the industry’s comeback and how he’s figured out new tricks.

In Australia, the road to recovery for live music is happening six to nine months ahead of the world, promoters say, according to Rolling Stone. Clubs are pumping in Brisbane, where venue capacities have been entirely lifted. Artists like Courtney Barnett, Keith Urban, Guns N' Roses and others are announcing tours on a daily basis. Festivals have resumed with all-local lineups, venue capacities are slowly lifting, and dancing is now permitted. By late April, Australia recorded 910 deaths due to Covid, with fewer than 30,000 confirmed cases among its population of 25 million. Community transmissions have been close to zero for months. Visitors aren't really welcome yet - a 2-week quarantine in a hotel room is compulsory.

Indie pop bands Blossoms and The Lathums played Liverpool's Sefton Park in Liverpool Sunday evening in what was the UK's first live music gig in more than a year, NME reports. The 5,000 fans were required to take a supervised COVID test before arrival, with entry only permitted once a negative test had been received. Once inside, fans did not need to wear masks, socially distance, or stick to the rule of six, and could also enjoy bars and food stalls. Fans will need to take another lateral flow test in five days time to see the event’s impact on spreading the virus.

Five thousand people attended a concert in Barcelona on Saturday night (March 27) as part of a COVID-19 experiment looking at the possibility of holding live music events with no social distancing if rapid testing is employed, al Jazeera reports. All attendees at the gig were tested ahead of the gig and the antigen test results were reported back to the attendees within 10 to 15 minutes via an app on their phones. The ticket price of $23 came with a rapid test and mask included. The show, which saw Spanish rock band Love of Lesbian playing at the Palau Sant Jordi arena, is said to be the biggest concert in Europe since the pandemic began last year.

World's second largest concert promoter has begun bringing back part-time and full-time employees who had been furloughed or saw their hours reduced during the pandemic with the first phase of employees returning April 1, Billboard reports. The second phase of AEG's rehiring involves full time employees who were moved to part time status. Those employees will be returned to full time status starting April 1 with the process expected to be completed by June 1. The third and final tier involves employees that were furloughed during the pandemic and are now expected to return to work full-time in the fall. AEG's main competitor Live Nation plans to begin staffing up as capacity restrictions are lifted on venues owned or leased by the company.

American media are looking into clues about future performances after watching Patti Smith perform at the Brooklyn Museum Beaux-Arts. Rolling Stone was there with other 50-ish people: "We’ve forgotten how to have a good time with each other. It’s going to take time to figure out what makes sense for each individual, how to enjoy being alive together again. But this was a start". Smith's show was a part of NY PopsUp, a series of over 300 performances spread across the state and five boroughs over 100 days. Pitchfork saw it as a move forward: "If NY PopsUp is meant to initiate the baby steps needed to inch our way back to a normal and robust music scene, it seemed like a productive rehearsal for both audience and performer".

This past January and February, New Zealand pop-rock band SIX60 held a Saturdays Tour, on consecutive weekends, playing to, all summed up, 125,000 people, Pollstar reports. Their tour began at Waitangi Sports Ground in Waitangi (Jan. 16) when they played to 20,000 people, as well as at Tomoana Showgrounds in Hastings (Jan. 23). The TSB Bowl of Brooklands in New Plymouth (Jan.30) attracted 15,000, Hagley Park in Christchurch (Feb. 6) had 23,000, The Wellington show was on Feb. 13 with 32,000, and the final date at Claudelands Oval in Hamilton was to 25,000 on Feb. 27. All this was possible thanks to New Zealand’s successful response to COVID-19. With no social distancing restrictions or bans on mass gatherings, no other act in the world has played to an audience that size in 2021 as well as for most of 2020.

A great series of texts in Guardian by the members of Mogwai, Chic, Charlatans, Haim, Hot Chip and others about the joy of playing live. Chris of the Christine and the Queens goes all the way with her text: "I like the animalistic side of touring: it’s about being a nice beast on stage, you have to sniff things and feel things and adapt. I like the accidents, the awkwardness of it. It can be really humbling because you think you know your show, and then you learn it again because the audience reacts differently. I like the challenge – to prove myself on stage, to try to win people over. It’s almost like a Don Juan thing, every time you have to make love, and you have to find a different way".

Tame Impala played two sold-out, maskless concerts on Friday in Perth, as Tame Impala Sound System sets, bringing a sense of normalcy down under where the Covid-numbers are quite low, while the rest of the world is pretty much quarantined, NME reports. Tame Impala’s TISS sees Parker and co. reimagine tracks from the band’s discography with synths, sequencers, and samplers, creating "pulsating, fully live and organic, free-flowing digital jam out”.

New York will allow performances venues to reopen starting April 2, with capacity capped at 33%, with social distancing and face coverings required by all attendees. AEG CEO Jay Marciano has said previously to Rolling Stone that this can't work: “We built an industry based upon selling out. It’s important for the experience. The first 50 percent of the tickets pay for expenses like the stagehands and the marketing, the ushers, and the rest and the venue, and the other 50 percent is shared between the artists and the promoter - so, if all you’re going to sell is 50 percent of tickets, nobody’s making any money. Selling 85 percent of tickets is roughly the break-even”. So, what's left is multiplying the ticket price by 3, right?!?

More than 100 Italian artists staged a silent protest L'Ultimo Concerto last Saturday to raise awareness for the struggling live music industry. Italian musicians came to the venues and prepared everything just like for a normal show - with their instruments and sound-checks and all - and then just stood still in silence.

The prospect capacity re-opening in the largest U.S. markets with over 75% capacity was “within sight”, Live Cation's CEO Michael Rapino told Music Business Worldwide. He said that “a clear outline to a 75% to 100% capacity for outdoor U.S. events in 2021 was looking likely to be green-lit”. Good news from the UK as well - festival organisers are enjoying record ticket sales after the government’s announcement of its roadmap out of lockdown in England, Guardian reports.

Gig it yourself
February 24, 2021

LA backyard gigs - keeping the punk scene alive

Huck tells the story of the LA punk scene which survived the pandemic with dozens of backyard gigs. The magazine argues "this attitude – of taking personal responsibility for yourself and your actions, despite what the rules say – is a common one in the DIY punk scene". Beko, the singer and frontman of punk band Lazy Dream, explains the attitude: “Our whole method is do-it-yourself. We were tired of waiting for people to do the recording thing, so we just did the recording ourselves… With the shows, we did that as well. We were like, ‘Ok, we have this backyard right here, might as well throw a show. Because if no one’s going to hire us or invite us anywhere, might as well do it ourselves’”.

The island is floating farther away
February 15, 2021

Visa costs for UK musician to play in Spain - £600

British pianist Joseph Middleton describes the hassle he would have to go through to play a recital in Spain: "Even though I would only spend 24 hours there, my agent would be required to work on a raft of extra paperwork, my accountant to furnish me with documents giving proof of income, and my bank would need to provide me with recent certified bank statements (no pesky home printouts here, thank you). My passport would need to be submitted to the Spanish embassy and held there until the visa was processed, causing problems for when I had to travel for other work". And it's an expensive hassle as well - £600 just for visa costs.

Space - the final frontier
February 10, 2021

New Covid-venus: Barges, hot-air balloons, piers...

Unable to play in "standard" venus due to the pandemic, the artists had to come up with novel ideas for places to play. It seems as if they're just getting started. Hot Since 82 played his sets from a hot air balloon and from under a pier, Liam Gallagher played aboard a barge as it floated down the River Thames with London's lockdown skyline and landmarks in full view, Biffy Clyro played from within a cube, Disclosure played a DJ set from above a waterfall at a national park... BBC reports about the start of something really new.

The Coda Collection is a new multi-media company featuring rare concerts and music documentaries, exclusive premieres for films and more, Deadline reports. The founders include Yoko Ono and Jimi Hendrix' sister Jaine so it will feature Rock'n'roll leaning shows, including streaming premieres such as 'Music, Money, Madness…Jimi Hendrix In Maui', 'The Rolling Stones On The Air', 'Johnny Cash at San Quentin', exclusive performances by Jane’s Addiction and Stone Temple Pilots, as well as new and rarely seen performances by Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Avett Brothers, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Tyler Childers, Billy Strings, Paul Simon, AC/DC, and more. The channel is launching on Amazon Prime in February for $4.99 per month and globally throughout the rest of 2021.

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