How + When Will Concerts Come Back? Your Guide To Live Music’s Return
When are concerts going to return after the coronavirus? How will they return?
Are masks required for admittance? Will ticketholders need to prove they've received a COVID-19 vaccination to get into arena shows, club gigs, music festivals or other kinds of concerts?
Because, finally, it looks like concerts are on their way back, slightly ahead of some predictions for a rebound. That's presuming, however, that the pandemic continues its slow unclenching of social life after a trying 13 months of, comparatively, hardly any live music at all.
But what will in-person music events look like when localities across the United States start to reopen more businesses but drop some or all of the COVID-19 safety precautions they adopted over the past year? It's already happening in some places. Can you feel safe at a show?
These are among the many questions returning concertgoers undoubtedly have before they pack back inside a music venue with hundreds or even thousands of people to enjoy a set from one of their favorite artists. Let's look at what we currently know about live music's return.
When Do Concerts Return in My State?
Here's the big question, and it will indeed vary by state. As infection rates dropped this year, Southern states such as Texas and Mississippi quickly opened back up with no restrictions or limits on venue capacity. Since those states also did away with mask laws, as shown in a map from The New York Times, live music's comeback in those places is already good to go.
On the other hand, California is only opening up at a limited capacity for concerts on April 15, with a full reopening planned for two months later. According to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the state's mask laws will stay in place even after the full reopening — so, yes, you could go and see a live show there with all your friends, but you'd have to mask up while inside the venue.
Concertgoers itching to get back to the club will have to keep tabs on their state's reopening guidelines. Chances are, there's a music venue near you ready to start having concerts again, or they will be very soon. The requirements and precautions will depend on the state.
Do I Need to Be Vaccinated to Attend a Live Event?
An Orwellian sense of doom bloomed in many's minds when Ticketmaster started talking about the kind of vaccination verification system they could build to track ticket buyers' COVID-19 vaccination records for concert admittance. Or maybe proof of a negative test would be required?
But while that technology doesn't seem to have come to fruition yet, states are — again — taking it on their own to get things moving.
CNN recently noted that California's reopening currently comes with no vaccine requirements. However, according to Billboard, New York's limited capacity opening for April does require evidence of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test to attend any events.
Will I Have to Wear a Mask to Go to a Concert?
Again, it'll be up to the individual venue you're visiting, if not its location. In vicinities that have already ended mask laws, plenty of businesses such as grocery stores and gas stations still post mask requirements. Isn't being a good customer is about following those guidelines?
That same idea applies inside clubs and arenas when concerts come back — it's up to each attendee to make an effort. As was foreseen by many and reiterated by PopCrush, face masks plus social distancing requirements will be the norm indoors at some music venues, at least initially.
When Will My Favorite Artist Tour Again?
Here's the tricky thing because even if all states were back open and the music venues were ready to go, you still need artists to play those venues. But planning a tour takes a lot of time and effort, especially the nationwide treks from prominent artists. So how soon until those gigs come back? Billboard predicted that it's unlikely most big bands will mount giant tours this year, especially considering capacity caps in some states. However, anyone can tour in states without restrictions, so expect indie bands and other performers who don't need a lot of lead time to hit the road soon.
Should I Attend a Concert if I'm Not Vaccinated?
There are probably other issues at play here if this is an idea getting much traction, as a great headline from HuffPost once articulated. Plenty of pundits have theorized about herd immunity and how the U.S. can get there, but most health experts contend that vaccination is the best tool against stopping the pandemic. Sure, there are exceptions to everything, but is there a reason not to get vaccinated?
Vaccines aside, the situation is the same as it has been. The CDC keeps its guidelines up to date on how to protect yourself and others, and help slow the spread of COVID-19, even a year after the pandemic began. Yes, it's still recommended to avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
What Concerts Are Coming Up?
Many outdoor festivals are a go for this summer. And when it comes to rock, there are still tons of gems on the docket. Motley Crue's Stadium Tour remains on the books for June — there's been no word of another postponement. Shinedown offshoot Smith & Myers have a six-state acoustic tour plotted for May, and Corey Taylor will charge through the Midwest on his solo "CMFTour" later this spring. Indeed, it looks like there will be no shortage of concerts coming up very shortly for the music fans willing to get out there and, hopefully, stay patient and respectful in following the safety protocols at the live events they might attend.
Looking to the Future
But the most cautious of us may not venture out to a concert quite yet, and that's OK, too. After the arduous 13 months that have passed since the coronavirus first hit U.S. shores, everyone's going to climb back to "normal" at their own pace. Still, word of a live music's return understandably stokes music fans, and there's nothing wrong with being eager to get back to rocking.
And venue owners, stagehands, promoters and plenty of other concert workers also deserve their passions and livelihoods back. They've been paying attention: A return of live music this summer meets the forecasts of many in the biz, such as Live Nation's Joe Berchtold.
"In the key U.S., Western European markets," Berchtold said at the end of 2020, "it continues to be our expectation that by next summer, we're back with our major outdoor shows — our amphitheaters here in the U.S., festivals globally. We'll be able to do those shows."
It looks like he was right.