Arkansas is getting the ball rolling on live concerts after a massive event-ban and shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. The first to take place will be Travis McCready from country-rock band Bishop Gunn next week on May 15.
The date is a bit odd because Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson just announced on Monday that indoor venues could resume live shows on May 18—three days after the show is booked.
The world has changed dramatically in the past few months due to COVID-19. Less than two months ago, concerts were still being booked. Tours were still promoted and just like that, all of it was gone. Festivals started rescheduled or canceling, Live Nation and AEG postponed all of their current and upcoming tours and movie release dates were pushed back as theaters shuttered and closed.
With many states’ stay-at-home orders having expired on May 3, governors and legislatures have outlined plans for the first stages of reopening everything while the pandemic still rages on.
On Monday, the Arkansas governor Hutchinson outlined such a plan for live venues. He stated they could reopen on May 18, but it “requires strict social distance among performers, contestants, and members of the audience.”
That brings us to a scheduled May 15 show with McCready of Bishop Gunn. For starters, the concert itself is sure to be an odd one. It will be the first with these extreme social distancing measures in place.
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UPDATE: Tickets will go on-sale Monday, April 27th at 10am. 🚨JUST ANNOUNCED🚨 An Intimate Solo Acoustic Performance With Travis McCready of Bishop Gunn May 15th. Please see our COVID19 Operating Protocol that we will be following to ensure a safe experience at our venue. “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”. ― Plato. The beginning of music is believed to originate with the beginning of creation itself. The first instrument can be traced back to 43,000 years ago, the first song to 4000 years ago. Even Plato, one of the greatest minds in history speaks to the importance of music. What do we learn from these simple facts? Hopefully we learn that people are designed to seek solace in this form of art. Pioneers such as Handel, Mozart, and Bach paved the early paths in the world of music. Beethoven found such value in music that he continued to compose after the loss of his hearing. We continue to seek music, perhaps even more fervently in the darkest times. For the lover of arts, music becomes the spark in life. Can you think of a movie without a soundtrack? With advances in technology, music has become so accessible that its become an important part in the lives of the vast majority of the population. Music is not only a luxury, but a necessity to many. Developments in the medical field such as music therapy show significant ties between music and the mental health of the population. Music is beyond enjoyment, it is what drives many of us and binds us to each other. The comradery created by live music specifically is unlike any other experience. That feeling you get when a band takes the stage, you feel the beat in your chest, and the bass shakes your entire being. The next thing we do however, may be the most spectacular part of the live experience. Once we’ve enjoyed the sight of the band taking the stage, we look to those around us, even just to share a glance, a smile. For a few brief moments, we are all united by love of an artist. These are the moments that bring us to life. And we won’t have that life taken from us. Music is all around us, music is essential
The venue hosting the concert, TempleLive, will be fogged and sanitized by a third party company prior to the event. From there, attendees will be enforced to keep socially distant in line. They will have their temperatures checked before entering the venue and are required to wear masks. All touch points will be constantly wiped down by TempleLive staff who are also required to wear masks.
But there’s more. In addition to staff also enforcing strict one-way walkways and allowing no more than 10 in a restroom at a time, Ticketmaster is also selling tickets to the concert in what they’re calling “fan pods.”
The pods are groups of between 2-12 seats throughout the venue. They separate attendees and cause them to avoid mingling with one another.
The venue capacity and concert attendance has also been greatly reduced. That’s to accommodate such extreme measures. TempleLive normally has a venue cap of 1,100 but has been reduced by 80% to only provide 229 available seats. Beverages served on-site will also have to be prepacked or come with lids.
Now, to address exactly how the concert is taking place is another story. As stated, the reopening for live events doesn’t take place until three days after the concert and Hutchinson has stated that no more than 50 people can attend one event.
Well, according to Billboard, TempleLive owners Beaty Capital believe the Governor’s office will allow for the show’s capacity and date prior to the May 15 date. The reasoning? According to Beaty VP Mike Brown, Hutchinson should change his mind when presented with additional information.
“We actually just got off a conversation with the state health department,” Brown tells Billboard. “The governor has done a great job with his administration and how he has handled this. If you are a church, there are no restrictions on how many people you can have inside as long as they follow CDC guidelines and stay six feet apart. So our position is, a public gathering is a public gathering regardless of the reason, whether you are going to go to a quilting event, a church, or a concert. Tell me the difference, because in our opinion it is discriminatory.”
To see exactly the seat setup Ticketmaster is providing, check out the “fan pods” here.
But, whether concerts are a success in this new world is still unclear.
In a new poll conducted by Reuters and Ipsos, it’s clear that even when shows and other large gatherings are going to be allowed Americans are going to be hesitant about going out again.
According to the poll, less than half of Americans are planning to go to concerts sporting events, movie theaters and more until an effective vaccine is available for everyone.
The poll shows only four in ten Americans who are saying they’re regularly attending events like these are going again without a widely-available vaccine.
What do you think of this Arkansas concerts? Are “fan pods” the way forward? Sound off in the comments below.