Stay negative!
March 31, 2022

Musicians want their fans to wear masks

It seems like Covid-19 is disappearing, especially now as there's a much more sinister threat. However, for musicians, Covid is still hanging above their heads. Pitchfork explored the issue:: "For rising bands and independent musicians tours are a crucial way to pursue a viable career path as a musician and often serve as the crux of their income. If musicians catch COVID-19, that’s potentially hundreds if not thousands of dollars down the drain... With mask and vaccine mandates evaporating around the country, artists are forced to once again ask themselves an important question: Should they risk their health by heading out on the road, or should they risk their income by missing out on another year of touring? Lately, it seems like indie artists are realizing there’s a hidden asterisk in this ultimatum; they can give touring a try so long as fans mask up".

An interesting point by Michelle Lhooq in her latest Rave New World post: "Clearly, we are entering the most absurd era of the pandemic, where ravers are actively trying to catch the virus, the scarcity of COVID testing is a joke, and the President himself is tweeting 'LMFAO IDK just Google it'. As the void closes in, the question lingers: is there any use resisting the nihilism of this moment? Or do you just cross the goddamn Rubicon, and jump into the gabber rave mosh pit?".

Prog-variant
November 30, 2021

Meet Omicron - Hong Kong metal band

Between 2014 and 2016, Omicron was the name of an underground prog-metal band based in Hong Kong. The quartet only played a handful of gigs and weren’t around long enough to release an album. But thanks to a macabre coincidence - on Nov. 26, the World Health Organization announced the name Omicron for the latest Covid-19 variant - the Hong Kong band is suddenly getting some of the attention they missed out on during their existence. “Whether for the right or wrong reasons, we’ve been getting clicks” says guitarist Li Heng Chan of the defunct Hong Kong prog-metal outfit to Rolling Stone. “It’s been a lot to process”.

Nine in 10 UK musicians were earning less than £1,000 per month, and 22% were considering giving up music altogether, according to UK charity Help Musicians which made a survey among 929 musicians in August. One-third of musicians were still earning nothing after restrictions on live events were lifted this summer, according to Help Musicians, BBC reports.

Employment in the UK music industry plunged by 35% from 197,000 in 2019 to 128,000, UK Music unveiled in its This Is Music 2021 annual report. The report also shows that in 2020 music industry’s economic contribution fell 46% from £5.8bn to £3.1bn in 2020. Launching the report, UK Music called on the Government to introduce tax incentives and other employment-boosting measures to help the sector rebuild after the pandemic.

Jason Isbell asks Dr. Antohny Fauci questions about COVID-19 and safety protocols at live events. Fauci recommends outdoor concerts, since the danger of getting infected is dramatically higher in a closed space. Fauci suggests talking to people, giving them answers to valid questions. Fauci insists the work on the vaccine started two decades ago. Both also agree the audience should stop yelling out requests - "I know what you like, don't worry".

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.

The Offspring drummer Pete Parada posted on his social media that he’s been ousted from the group because he won’t agree to get the COVID vaccine. He's been told he is not welcome on the upcoming tour, as well as not to show up at the studio either. Parada claims to have a legitimate medical reason for not getting the jab (the Guillain-Barré syndrome), Rolling Stone reports. In similar, COVID-related news, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that proof of vaccination will be required to participate in indoor activities, including live performances and entertainment, a first-of-its-kind program in the U.S., Billboard reports. Also, Japanese Breakfast announced that all upcoming shows for the tour will be masked and require either proof of vaccination or a negative PCR within 48 hours preceding the show.

Eric Clapton said he will not perform at any venues that require attendees to prove that they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19, NPR reports. Clapton issued his statement in response to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that vaccine passes would be required to enter nightclubs and venues. Clapton previously shared a message about his “disastrous” health experience after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

The electronic music festival Verknipt in the Netherlands has been linked to more than 1,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus, although the organizers have followed all the health guidelines. CNBC reports. In early July Verknipt hosted about 20,000 attendees in Utrecht. Now, 1,050 of those people and counting have tested positive. This is especially discouraging because the electronic music event followed many expert guidelines - the festival was held outdoors, where infections are generally much lower; concert-goers also needed to show a QR code confirming that they were either fully vaccinated, had recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection, or had tested negative within the last 40 hours. That 40 hours window is seen now as the main possible reason for the infection spike.

"[I was on the road] two months at a time or more. And that was wearing on my marriage and my life. Now you listen what you want to on the radio, and if you feel like pulling over and taking a nap, you pull over and take a nap" - 53-year-old bus driver John Rogan tells in a Billboard piece about the lack of drivers the live music industry is about to face. Apart from the fact that some drivers have found a more comfortable lifestyle in trucking. there's another reason for drivers' departures from the industry: Most tours are requiring vaccines for their entire crews, and plenty of them refuse to get the shots. That's not all - driving frozen food pays almost double the amount drivers get while driving hot music stars.

EXIT Festival - which takes place at Novi Sad, Serbia across 8th-11th July - will offer 1,500 coronavirus vaccines to international artists and festivalgoers attending the event this summer, DJ Mag reports. David Guetta, Paul van Dyk, Paul Kalkbrenner, Eric Prydz B2B Four Tet, and Honey Dijon feature in this year's line-up. On the other side of the musical spectrum, the UK Download festival - which will take place from June 18-20 - will allow 10,000 attendees to “mosh, dance and hug”, the Evening Standard reports. All attendees will have to take a lateral flow test at home beforehand, and will also need to send a PCR test by post prior to the event. Only those with negative results will be allowed onto the festival site. Five days after the event, those who went to the festival will have to take a second PCR test, and send it off to the Events Research Programme.

Covid-to-the-floor
May 19, 2021

DJ Mag: Can we finally go raving again?

“It really comes down to WHO is at these events" - DJ Cakewals says to DJ Mag about clubbing events coming back in the US, in light of the pandemic slowing down there. It's the nuances that will matter: "How serious is the crowd and promoter taking precautions? And for how long? Will the security or person [in charge of] monitoring the crowd just get lazy after a couple hours? Hold each other accountable, even if it’s uncomfortable!”.

20,000 fans stood shoulder to shoulder for their first star-studded concert in over a year on May 2nd at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. Foo Fighters, Jennifer Lopez, J Balvin, and Eddie Vedder performed for Global Citizen’s Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite The World, at the first large-scale music event for a Covid-compliant audience in the US. It wasn't exactly like before - the show’s attendance was far lower than the 70,000 the L.A. stadium can seat, attendees had to show proof of vaccination, they were masked and alcohol and concessions weren’t available. The goal of the concert was to raise money to send vaccine doses to India, Africa and other places. Rolling Stone is happy to report from it.

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.

Most of the music festivals in the UK still due to take place this year could be scrapped without the safety net of government-backed cancellation insurance, the Association of Independent Festivals has warned. A quarter of UK festivals have already been called off, but 76% of the rest need "urgent intervention" from the government to save the season, BBC reports. Festivals contribute £1.76bn to the UK economy and support 85,000 jobs.

The UK is testing the relaxation of Covid rules with a trial festival this weekend in Liverpool, the Evening Standard reports. Fatboy Slim and Sven Väth will headline The First Dance at The Circus nightclub, which sold out its 6,000 tickets quickly - the first time any such event has been allowed for over a year. Clubbers will not be required to social distance or wear face coverings but will have to take a lateral flow test before entering the venue. The First Dance is part of the Events Research Programme (ERP), which will provide data on how events holding anywhere between hundreds and tens of thousands of people could safely reopen later this year.

A trial concert in Barcelona with 5,000 attendees resulted in only six new cases of Covid infections, Deutsche Welle reports. The indoor concert by pop-rock band Love of Lesbian was held in The Palau, with a capacity of 17,000 - attendees were not allowed into the stands and instead were restricted to the dance floor. Before the event, they were screened and tested for coronavirus using antigen tests. The crowd was also instructed to wear FFP2 masks, with the organizers limiting bathroom capacity. Social distance was not required. Only six people reported testing positive 15 days later, while transmission in four of these six cases didn't take place during the concert. The six infections are fewer than the average contagion spread for Barcelona at the time.

Arlo Parks

4,000 people will be allowed to the Brit awards in London next month to enjoy the show and - take part in a government-led research programme into how crowds can safely return to mass-participation events, Sky News reports. Audience members will not have to wear masks or socially distance, but they will, however, have to have proof of a negative Covid test. After the performances by Dua Lipa, Headie One, and Arlo Parks, the audience will have to take a Covid test.

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.

A music festival took place in the Netherlands, with 1,500 mostly young people participating in an experiment about the spread of Covid-19, BBC reports. The rest of the country is in lockdown, yet the Dutch government has financed this electro-music festival and a scientific experiment that aims to see if there's a safe way to allow large-scale social gatherings to restart, without increasing the spread of the virus. The participants all had to be negative on Covid-test to take part at the fest and will be tested again next week.

Sweat and tears of joy
March 17, 2021

The majority of UK festivals this year - on!

This year's editions of UK festivals Glastonbury and Download are cancelled, since they were to happen early in the summer. Others, who were scheduled for late summer, or have been rescheduled, are planning to go ahead, "confident that fans will be allowed to mosh, pogo and stage-dive with the risk of injury, rather than disease, their main concern", as BBC puts it. Dozens of fests should go ahead, among them All Points East (headlined by Jamie xx, Kano, Slowthai, Arlo Parks, Bicep), Hyde Park (Pearl Jam, Duran Duran, Pixies), Camp (Fatboy Slim, Kelis), Creamfields (Deadmau5, Carl Cox, Eric Prydz, Tiesto, Bicep), Isle Of Wight, Latitude (Lewis Capaldi, Bastille, Snow Patrol), Reading & Leeds (Stormzy, Post Malone, Liam Gallagher, Queens Of The Stone Age), Y Not, Womad...

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma played a short gig in the observation area at the Berkshire Community College in Massachusetts after receiving his COVID-19 vaccination this week. Ma said he wanted to “give something back” after receiving his jab, so he played a 15-minute concert for others waiting at the centre, the Berkshire Eagle reports. Ma’s set was observed by a small crowd that were masked and socially distanced.

The UK is one of the countries in the world with the fastest-growing number of people vaccinated against Covid-19, with 10 million extra vaccinations currently available in the UK which will start to be given out this week. It's predicted that all over 50s could receive their second jab by the end of March, with all over 40s receiving a vaccination in April and the 30-39 age group beginning to receive their jabs by the end of that month. The 18-29 bracket will receive doses from May. MixMag says rightfully this is all good news for clubs that can currently reopen from June 21, as well as for the festival season in the UK and abroad.

Corona-party after all
March 07, 2021

Dutch clubbers take part in a big Covid-survey party

A total of 1,300 people took part in a party on Saturday in Amsterdam's Ziggo Dome, which also acted as a research project, the Chronicle Herald reports. Dutch DJs Sam Feldt, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano were playing as the party-goers were followed in all their movements and contacts through a tag they were made to wear, as part of an effort to examine how events may safely be opened up for the public again. The event was part of a series of government-backed tests that also include a business conference, two football matches and a comedy show – all of which have different rules for different groups, to see what works best.

A nice tribute at the NPR to the 500,000 Americans that have died from Covid-19 - the National radio presents live stories of some of the victims and their favourite songs. Check out the sad collection - here.

Quick coronavirus testing could enable nightclubs and theatres to reopen, British premier Boris Johnson said, according to Daily Mail. The PM said "rapid" lateral flow tests "in combination with vaccination, will probably be the route forward", could be used by "those parts of the economy we couldn't get open last year". Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the government would rely on rapid testing and "making people access their own personal vaccination records" on the NHS app, rather than issuing vaccine passports.

Raise your voices!
January 31, 2021

English National helps long Covid sufferers breathe

The English National Opera has successfully tested its singing, breathing and wellbeing program for recovering coronavirus patients, and it has now rolled it out around the country. The program -- described as the first of its kind - uses singing techniques by singing experts to help patients who are experiencing breathlessness and anxiety.

Down by the valley
January 31, 2021

Coachella canceled

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival's planned return for April 2021 has been canceled due to the pandemic, LA Times reports the news "to the surprise of absolutely no one". Stagecoach, the popular country music festival that follows Coachella's back-to-back weekends, has also canceled its April 23-25 dates.

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