We all knew that our lives would somehow change when the Stay at Home order went into effect, but little did we know that March 23, 2020 would also be the day the music died. As bars and clubs closed, we realized in a hurry that there wouldn’t be a soundtrack to this pandemic. Many of us felt like Jimmy Vavak, a local musician and former promoter: “At this point it’s hard to imagine there ever being a day when hundreds or thousands of sweaty folks will be able to pile into a room and rock the fuck out.” Yeah, Jimmy, we’re still wondering.
Fast forward two incredibly long months. While many bars and restaurants are slowly reopening, they can only operate at 25% of capacity, including social distancing protocols. That limit presents huge problems for concert venues that depend on large numbers of people gathering in close proximity. As a result, stock for Live Nation, the country’s largest concert promoter, plunged 40% at one point during the shutdown.
All of those mega shows that were scheduled for Hollywood Casino Amphitheater this summer have been cancelled or postponed until 2021. Smaller local venues have also been affected. The new FUBAR was scheduled to open in April, but those plans had to be postponed. The Ready Room also became a victim of COVID, losing their lease to the building in the Grove. And the list goes on.
Local musicians are also feeling the pain. Pookee Jones, base player for hometown favorite Cavo, says the realease of new material like “Wolves” has suffered from the bad timing, like just when “Wolves” started to chart. He hopes that the band can put together a virtual concert soon, and maybe by late fall could book a small local show. And Cavo isn’t alone. “All of my tours have been cancelled...Touring isn’t going to be a thing for quite some time,” says Scott Fogelbach of The Lion’s Daughter and Bastard.
So what’s the future of live music this summer? Get in your car! POWERplex in Hazelwood will be hosting a drive-in concert with Superjam on May 30th, followed by the Jeremiah Johnson Band and others on June 6th. If you like your music indoors, industry experts expect small shows to be the first to return. For example, Diamond Music Hall in St. Peters has small shows tentatively scheduled in June.
It’s been a brutal spring for everyone, but live music isn’t going away anytime soon. “It will be tough to get the ball rolling again for the bar owners and the bands to get the clientele back, but we’ll make it through,” says Billy Blackwell of Shock Treatment. Support those local bars and clubs that still offer live music. Watch live streams and virtual concerts. Download Beyond FM, an app that exclusively plays the best of everything St. Louis, 24 hours a day. You might have to wait another year to see Motley Crue, but this could be the summer you discover a new way to “shout at the devil.”