BY: JOEY REAMS
Just when concerts appear to make their triumphant return, a new variant of the COVID-19 virus has developed. It has become a polarizing topic, but it has begun to affect concerts once again, no matter your position. Few have canceled tours altogether, while others have opted to kick out band members for disagreeing on vaccinations. Here is the latest as to what’s going on in the alternative and indie concert scene.
Canceled and Postponed Concerts
Most tours aren’t starting until later this year, but that doesn’t mean a few anxious bands haven’t started already. Fall Out Boy, Weezer, and Green Day have recently embarked on their Hella Mega Tour, set to begin back in 2020. Unfortunately, Fall Out Boy was forced to sit out of their Boston and New York shows due to a crew member testing positive for the virus, despite being vaccinated. Green Day and Weezer played the two shows without them. Even Foo Fighters were forced to cancel their concert at The Forum in Los Angeles after a confirmed COVID-19 case within the Foo Fighters organization. A few weeks before this, the band held a sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden, the first event at the historic venue since the pandemic started.
“Despite having made every effort to follow CDC COVID protocols and local laws, there has been a confirmed COVID-19 case within the Foo Fighters organization,” reads the statement. “Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of the band, crew, and most of all the fans, Saturday’s show at the Los Angeles Forum is being postponed to a later date,” the tweet read. “The new date will be announced shortly. Tickets for the July 17th date will be honored for the new date.”
Some bands have been fortunate enough to continue to tour, while others have taken drastic measures. Voodoo Music Festival in New Orleans has announced the festival will be canceled one more year and will take place October 2022. The festival, like many others, hadn’t operated since 2019 when the festival had Guns N’ Roses, Beck, The National, and many others performing. As some bands are just beginning to kick off their long-awaited tours, Deftones and Gojira postponed their anticipated tour once again.
“After much contemplation, we’ve made the decision to postpone our summer tour with Gojira one more time,” the official statement said “With the imminence of the tour, and the pandemic lasting much longer than we anticipated, we came to the realization that uncertainty still remains in different markets throughout the country. We do not want to be in a situation where shows have to be adjusted or canceled on short notice for any guideline adjustments or reconsiderations while we are on the road.
Canceling a concert is the last resort for most of these bands. If at all possible, most bands are taking extra steps to ensure safety amongst themselves and their fans, especially in areas with rising cases. Widespread Panic issued a COVID-19 safety protocol for their three-night run in Asheville, North Carolina.
“The State of NC has strongly encouraged mask wearing in public indoor venues for all vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens,” reads the statement. “Widespread Panic Band and Crew members support this protective measure – helping to ensure the safety of everyone in attendance. If you have purchased a ticket and don’t feel comfortable with the protocols above, you may request and receive a refund.”
Unfortunately, it seems like this is only the beginning of it. Earlier this month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city would become the first to require at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine to participating in various activities, including concerts. New York has gone as far as offer incentives to receive the vaccination, such as tickets to games or $100 in cash.
Lollapalooza recently concluded last weekend, becoming the first major festival to return since the pandemic (somewhat) ended. Atendees had to present either a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination. Although it appears the only thing affected by this request was wait times at the front gate, this idea is becoming more popular as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
Band Members Kicked Out
Bands can’t control everything. They can’t control if fans follow health mandates or what the CDC says. What they can control is themselves and the message they bring behind their actions. In other words, bands can lead by example by responsibly canceling shows if need be or by protecting their fans with necessary protocols. In a shocking move, some bands have elected to kick certain members out due to disagreements with receiving the vaccine. Most notably is The Offspring kicking out drummer Pete Parada for refusing the receive the vaccine. Parada has been with the band since 2007.
“Since I am unable to comply with what is increasingly becoming an industry mandate, it has recently been decided that I am unsafe to be around, in the studio, and on tour,” Parada wrote in a multi-part Instagram post. “I mention this because you won’t be seeing me at these upcoming shows. I also want to share my story so that anyone else experiencing the agony and isolation of getting left behind right now knows they’re not entirely alone.”
“I have no negative feelings towards my band,” he wrote. “They’re doing what they believe is best for them, while I am doing the same. Wishing the entire Offspring family all the best as they get back at it! I’m heartbroken not to be seeing my road community, and I will miss connecting with the fans more than I can express in words.”
Many things are still uncertain right now. Whether we like it or not, America is not out of the woods just yet. While some bands are going forth with their concert plans with heightened safety precations, others will wait until next year, once again. One thing is sure; it’s going to take a long time before rock fans get to experience concerts and festivals the way they did before, especially if they decide against getting the vaccination.