Well folks, summer is over. And what a summer it was — sparse live music events, some venues opening up, movies being mostly streamed.
Now, we look toward the fall and what that will hold in the middle of a pandemic, and it’s looking more like live performances will be mostly seen on your streaming devices.
Starting tonight at 7:30 p.m., the Saint Joseph Symphony will stream its first professionally shot, recorded and edited concert for its “Cozy Concerts In St. Joe Spaces” with the duo The Wires on its website (saintjosephsymphony.org). In the coming weeks, local organizations will stream performances, like the St. Joseph Performing Arts Association's "Broadway & Beyond" on Sept. 20, and Pumpkinfest in October.
It will be the first of its kind for the area, as it will charge people to watch it (hence, it being a professional operation, rather than the usual livestream on Facebook through a phone). Time will tell if it will work locally, but it’s a micro version of macro solution for the time being for live music and entertainment.
As the public adjusts to life during a pandemic, live entertainment bookers are trying to figure out how to get people to support performers without putting either them or the fans in harm’s way.
For the NBA and WWE, it’s having fans broadcast themselves in the stands of their respective fan-less arenas. For live music, it likely will be something like the historic Red Rocks Amphitheater’s upcoming “Red Rocks Unpaused” series, where about 175 fans can pay to watch live concerts from artists like Megan Thee Stallion and Sam Hunt, and control aspects of the production.
For now, it’s the smartest compromise between having fans have to tune in to a shoddy livestream over something like Instagram and risking it all to go to a concert. It doesn’t replicate the kinetic energy or interactivity of a live show, but it’s something personal and with money involved, it means fans are making a commitment to support and watch artists perform.
But besides the symphony, that’s not happening on a local level. Comparatively speaking to harder-hit areas in and around Missouri, COVID-19 numbers have been lower. So venues like Magoon’s and Cafe Acoustic feel a bit more comfortable hosting live shows. The same goes for the Robidoux Resident Theatre.
I don’t pass judgment on any of them. They’ve all been through hard times and without much assistance from the government to make up for lost revenue, want to get back to some semblance of pre-COVID normalcy.
Like many, I do worry about the fall and winter, as we spend more time indoors at work, and as people grow more tired of adhering to safety guidelines, what might happen. If we want to keep people safe, shouldn’t virtual performances, where environments can be more carefully controlled, be given more of a look? Is it time to at least explore the option of having them, in case that moment where a staff member or performer test positive for COVID-19 hits?
I understand it doesn’t generate the money, energy or drink sales that live shows with a real audience would. In other words, it doesn’t feel normal — and it shouldn’t. Normal is something different now and we have to adjust to keep people safe. Doing it virtually seems like a good step for now.
Reporter's note: Mentions of the Performing Arts Association and Pumpkinfest were added to the story after its publication.