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Festival Crowd
(Wendy Wei)

But Will They Show Up?

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Last night Felice journeyed to her sister’s house for an “In the Heights” viewing party (I did not go, I still do not have enough B-cells to retake the vaccine). After eating Mexican food and Marie Callender’s pies, six fully vaccinated people sat in front of the 75″ OLED screen and watched the movie on HBO Max.

They did not go to the theatre.

Today’s film business story is how “In the Heights” underperformed at the box office. Expectations were $20+ million, it did $11.4 million, it was eclipsed by “A Quiet Place Part II” in its third weekend, which pulled in $11.7 million.

The autopsy has begun.

When did a film musical recently do well?

Was the theatre number undercut by streaming?

We can analyze it all day long, but the question is…will people show up to concerts?

As for “In the Heights”…this is another project that will have legs, will be performed at high schools. We’ve seen this time and again, musicals permeate society slowly.

But how slowly will people return to concerts?

Let’s call a spade a spade, if one can still use that statement, the concert business is afraid of the Trumpers, the right wing, as a matter of fact, the entire left is afraid of the Trumpers. They don’t want to enrage the same people who stormed the Capitol on January 6th, a great percentage of them who were not poor working-class people, but upper middle class wealthy people, some even flew in on private jets.

Piss off the right and they’re very vocal. And they vote, just ask Joe Manchin.

Furthermore, the right is an echo chamber. Unappealing news never makes it to the airwaves, unless it’s worthy of ridicule. And if there is something worth making fun of, it’s like raw meat thrown to hungry dogs, this is Tucker Carlson’s entire act.

Not that I wish to go deep into political issues, I’m just setting the landscape, what happens when concerts go back up, will people show up, or be too afraid?

Don’t tell me that the tickets already sold. Some of those people will want refunds. They haven’t wanted refunds in the past fifteen months because they thought when the shows ultimately played, Covid would be over, a non-issue, but it’s not.

Now the truth is the recorded music business skews young. But not necessarily concerts. People may not have a subscription to Spotify, may still listen to their CDs, not having purchased one in eons, but they’ll lay down cash to see James Taylor with Jackson Browne. Will it be safe?

The truth is it’s not safe in a plethora of red states. Where vaccination rates are exceptionally low, compared to those in the blue states.

The highest vaccination rate is in Vermont, with 71% of people 18+ fully vaccinated, with 83% having had at least one dose.

The lowest? Mississippi, with 36% having had both doses, 45% having had one.

Let’s see, what other states are at the bottom of the chart…

Moving up, you next find Alabama, Louisiana, Wyoming, Tennessee, West Virginia, Arkansas, Idaho, South Carolina, Georgia, Missouri, Indiana, Oklahoma, North Dakota, North Carolina, Montana, Ohio, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Kentucky, Alaska, Kansas…

And just because I know you’re interested, from the top down, after Vermont, we have Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maine, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, California, Maryland, New Hampshire, Washington, New York, Illinois, Virginia, Minnesota, Delaware, Colorado, Oregon, Wisconsin, Nebraska, South Dakota…

Now if you’ve been reading the news, amongst unvaccinated populations, infection rates are the same as they were in January. Which means Covid-19 is not necessarily raging in low-vaccinated states, but in low vaccinated areas, which can be patches of blue states as well as red. But the bigger the unvaccinated population is…

As for young people?

Vaccinations rates are even worse. And these are the most carefree concertgoers, these are the people who partied in Florida during the height of the epidemic. They’ll show up, but will they be sick, and will others get sick?

So, the question arises… Are concert promoters going to require proof of vaccination to get into the show?

So far, small shows are doing this. And now, the Foo Fighters’ June 20th show at Madison Square Garden too. But that’s in New York, a state which has the Excelsior Pass. How about when shows start spreading throughout the country?

Not that people are not bitching about the requirement at MSG. I point you here:

“Some fans turn against Foo Fighters after hearing concert-goers need proof of vaccination”:

But wait, it gets even more complicated… There were only 12 days to meet the requirement that you’d been vaccinated 14 days before. So, if you hadn’t gotten the jab yet, you were SOL. Meaning short notice shows have even more issues.

But the Foos sell out at the Garden no problem.

As a matter of fact, they sell out almost everywhere.

But not everybody does this. Some acts are still developing their audience. They depend on people to show up to make the numbers, that ultimately mean whether the promoter can get paid enough to pay them a significant guarantee.

Now the indie promoters in red states… That’s an issue, but let’s address the larger outfits, like Live Nation and AEG…what are they gonna do?

Everybody wants someone else to take the heat, but now the flames are entering the kitchen of the concert business.

Now Governor Newsom just announced a vaccine verification program. But in the metropolis, California is quite blue.

As for the red states…

This is a significant issue. Exacerbated by the anti-vaccine rhetoric which has impeded the ascension to herd immunity, the latest thought is we’ll never get there. Go to a show and get infected? Not me. But one thing we know for sure, if you go to the show and you get Covid-19 you’re not going to sit at home and say “dem’s the breaks,” you’re going to be looking for someone to pay, and that means the promoter, the building, the act, everyone with a deep pocket. Sure, some people will accept their fate, but enough won’t to cause fear and chaos in the marketplace.

Now you might have seen this report:

“2 passengers on Celebrity Millennium cruise test positive for coronavirus”:

So, what really happened here? Were the passengers truly vaccinated, or did they fake it? And how did they get it, from the unvaccinated children on board? And who might they infect once they get home, never mind when they fly there on the airplane. And the vaccine is 90% effective, but that does not mean you’ll never get Covid-19, even though the symptoms should be less.

Concerts were the first to go, and they’re the last to reappear, because of the close contact of attendees. Are they coming back too fast? Do more precautions need to be taken? Does a united front need to be established?

If you’re following the story, and most people aren’t doing so closely, having Covid-19/news fatigue, the new Delta variant, raging through India, is now here in America, which has resulted in this:

“Southern states have a ‘real vulnerability’ to Delta Covid variant this summer, warns Dr. Peter Hotez”:

And if you’ve been following the analysis, infection rates were lower in the south because being warm in the winter, people were outside more, as opposed to inside in the northeast. But now that it’s getting hotter…they’re migrating inside to air-conditioned spaces, and in these closed environments infection rates rise.

But most people want to go to concerts. Red and blue, young and old. Seemingly everybody wants the experience. But once shows ramp up, are they going to take the risk? Are boomers really going to come pouring out of the woodwork to pay the highest prices and ultimately attend? And are youngsters going to come and be sick?

So, what you’ve got is a political issue that becomes a health issue that lands in the lap of the concert industry.

Let the games begin.

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