Music Events and Festivals in Covid-19 America
March 10, 2020: the last Saturday before the world as we knew it ended. I was at a Blossoms concert in the Exeter Great Hall. It’s taken almost exactly two years and moving halfway around the world, but I’ve finally been able to start attending concerts again.
My first foray back into the world of music festivals was one of the University of South Florida’s Homecoming events. T-Pain came and performed in the school parking lot. It was not the usual intimate ‘indie’ gig I had been attending every weekend when I was eighteen, but it exceeded all expectations. Tickets were $5 and a large part of the student population turned up despite the rain to watch the performance.
T-Pain is not someone I would ever have considered going to see under normal circumstances, but he was undeniably a fantastic performer and because he’s so prolific as a feature artist, we knew a lot more of his music than we were expecting. I also think that having ‘All I Do is Win’ performed on campus with thousands of students shouting along is a perfect encapsulation of the American experience. This was at the start of November, but because we were in Florida it was like taking a step back through time; no masks, no testing requirements, probably lots of COVID that no one knew about, but a completely ecstatic festival atmosphere that I hadn’t been able to experience for a long time.
having ‘All I Do is Win’ performed on campus with thousands of students shouting along is a perfect encapsulation of the American experience
March 2022 was when I was able to have my real return to gigs. A friend and I travelled up to her hometown in Wisconsin to see Briston Maroney. The concert was in Madison – the State Capitol. The very fact that we were able to hop on a plane and travel halfway across the country for the concert really highlights how far we’ve come in the two years since I was last able to attend one. Although, there was an obvious juxtaposition with two years ago because as a Northern, more Democratic state, Wisconsin had a mask mandate in place. We caught our gig on the last day where we still had to wear masks as a crowd as well as showing vaccine passes. It felt a far cry from Florida with its COVID ‘policies,’ and that’s before I mention the contrast of the 0-degree weather.
The concert was incredible. It really showed me how much I’ve missed not being able to go to them over the last few years; even before the music, just the spirit of bringing together so many people with the same passion and creating such positive energy is something incredible. Briston was a phenomenal performer, the crowd was so engaged, his singing and lyricism are brilliant, the band was so energetic that the drummer knocked over half his drum set, and it’s a trip I will always remember – the more so for its poignancy in the times of COVID. As experiencing a concert in America compares to one in England, the only real difference is in the accents singing the lyrics back, so it was truly a successful return to something I loved – with what is always a bonus of getting some more travel in.
Editor: Elen Johnston