Live music concerts are resurfacing in the Covid-19 recovery. Here’s what to expect when you go

A concert in Red Rocks Park and the Amphitheater outside of Denver.

John P Kelly | The Image Bank unpublished | Getty Images

When 31-year-old Riley Cash from Denver received his second vaccine earlier this month, the next big event on his agenda was a concert at nearby Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater.

The outdoor venue reopened this month with limited capacity and four night shows by a band called Lotus.

The fact that concerts were already coming back came as a surprise, Cash said. But after working from home for a year, he was dying to see one of his favorite acts live.

Tickets cost about $ 91 per person, more than Cash expected. But he said he considered himself and his friend lucky to be able to get tickets within days of the sale.

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“I just want to do something,” he said.

Some smaller outdoor and outdoor concerts are starting to open up, offering shows of limited capacity in hopes of finding attendees who feel the same way.

Anecdotally, these venues say they find it easy to fill the spots they can offer.

“We haven’t had a single show that we put up for sale that didn’t blow out right away,” said spokesman Brian Kitts of Red Rocks, near Morrison, Colorado.

The outdoor yoga series that Red Rocks offers is also selling out quickly, he said.

While it still feels a long way off for other indoor forms of entertainment like opera and ballet to reopen, the first sales of the available events have gotten off to a stronger start than expected, Kitts said.

That’s a big deal for the urban venue, which lost roughly $ 52 million over the past year.

“Nobody saw this coming,” said Kitts.

“There are 400 people working at the venue every night, and all of those jobs were only gone overnight,” he said.

Dixie Strange, 30, during a morning yoga session at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado on August 22, 2020.

Mark Makela | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ticket prices haven’t generally gone up at the start of the show season thanks to the bands and promoters, Kitts said.

However, there are new Covid-19 protocols.

There are no temperature checks on the door or requirements to prove a vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test.

However, other precautions were taken. There is a distance of two meters between groups of ticket holders, who now only occupy every second row. Masks are required in interiors such as bathrooms or in the visitor center.

The venue has also implemented touchless payment systems for all transactions.

We haven’t put a single show up for sale that wasn’t immediately blown out. “

Brian Kitts

Red Rocks spokesperson

Some of the concert dates that were canceled in 2020 have been postponed to 2021. Still, new acts are pushing not to be added to the calendar until October or even November, Kitts said.

“We will never again take for granted the ability to gather together and see a concert or go to a sporting event,” said Kitts.

While some venues report strong initial ticket sales, a recent survey by Bankrate.com found that only 16% of adults bought tickets to a live event.

Concerts or music festivals were the most popular with 8% of those surveyed. Live theater or comedy followed, 6%; Professional sports or college games, 5%; or other live events that require tickets, 2%.

One reason for the lackluster poll results, which came in late March, could be that consumers are still smart about the money they lost in last year’s events, said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate.com.

“We found last year that basically half of the people who had tickets to these events last year lost money,” said Rossman. “And I think a lot of people are shy about it.”

Buying tickets now presents a “calculated risk” that you may get your money or credit back if the events don’t go ahead as planned.

However, Bankrate.com found that people spend an average of $ 227 on concerts and music festivals, $ 191 on comedy or live theater, and $ 387 on games and sporting events when buying tickets.

Some of these costs may include additional security protocols.

For some venues, implementing these processes was key to getting attendees back in the door.

Rhett Miller will perform at City Winery NYC in New York City on April 3, 2021.

Taylor Hill | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

At the City Winery in New York City, the seating capacity will be expanded from the current 100 participants per show to 150 from May 1st.

This date will also usher in a new vaccine policy for concert-goers who can use the CLEAR app to provide evidence and fill out a questionnaire in advance. Those who have not received the vaccination can bypass the rule by having a Covid-19 test in advance or on-site on the day of the event.

“We’re thrilled to be driving this forward, so it’s psychological comfort to be in a bubble and know that everyone around you has been vaccinated too,” said Michael Dorf, CEO and Chairman of City Winery.

Even so, the venue has no plans to relax protocols, particularly with regard to wearing masks, until the government gives the OK, Dorf said.

The City Winery has dealt with varying capacity rules and restrictions at its other locations in cities like Nashville, Tennessee. Atlanta and Chicago.

Seeing the live music ecosystem reappear was deeply powerful and very moving.

Michael Dorf

CEO and Chairman of City Winery

One constant, however, remains the same: the fans’ appetite to see live music again.

“Everything we can offer for sale now sells out very quickly and enthusiastically,” said Dorf.

Like many other venues, City Winery struggled to close last year as it faced ongoing rents, utility bills, and payrolls.

But it has tried to keep its ticket prices in check, which largely depend on how much the artists paid. Several night shows have helped offset limited ticket sales due to lower capacity.

As the pandemic continues to subside, Dorf also hopes these restrictions come with it.

The introductory joke he tells the audience before each show is always the same, he said.

“Please don’t get used to so much space out there,” said Dorf. “We’ll rush you and pin you in here as soon as we can be safe.”

The biggest win was seeing the joy the performers feel when they get back on stage and the audience when they see it.

“Seeing the live music ecosystem reappear was deeply powerful and very moving,” said Dorf.

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