The New Beginning or End to Music Festivals?

By: Emma Sweeney

Staying up late to order concert tickets. Preparing for the outing by listening to the artist’s album on repeat. Picking through your closet for the perfect outfit. The thrill of seeing your favorite artist appearing on stage. Screaming lyrics at the top of your lungs and dancing the night away. Bonding with friends and family through the power of music. Concerts are much anticipated, exciting experiences that remain encapsulated only in memories; they are also one of the many events that have been altered in 2020.  

It is difficult to imagine life going back to normal or even the possibility of attending a music festival or concert after COVID- 19. Austin City Limits, Tomorrowland, Coachella, and Lollapalooza are among the many of music festivals that were postponed or cancelled in 2020.  

Music festivals like Tomorrowland are opting for virtual concerts, using 3D and interactive technology by virtually showcasing stages, while also trying to find a safe solution for the future.  

According to Debby Wilmsen, a Tomorrowland spokesperson, “each stage will feature music from the world’s best artists in dance and electronic music—catering to all different genres—and a large portion of fireworks and laser shows characteristic of Tomorrowland. We pride ourselves on uniting people from over 200 countries every year in Belgium, but by going digital, we hope to attract even more people to experience Tomorrowland firsthand without having to travel.”  

Social distancing gigs are another option. On August 11, 2020, there was a socially distanced musical festival, shining a light on the future of other concerts.  

“British singer-songwriter Sam Fender played the first public concert in the age of COVID-19 in Newcastle, England. Clusters of family members and spouses were seated on raised platforms with small fences around them, and these platforms were spaced responsibly. […] A total of 2,500 fans attended and spread out over 500 platforms,” claims Popular Mechanics.  

Each platform provided chairs, drinks, and food for each party, which is a creative solution to keep people happy when everything looks different considering the unusual circumstances. 

Many music festivals are exhibiting optimism by planning for 2021.  

For example, Austin City Limits posted its 2021 dates for October 1- October 10, leaving us hopeful, yet skeptical with no entertainment lineups listed or information on how they will proceed with safety precautions.  

Even though festivals are aiming for 2021, concerts will never be the same. When attending a concert, there exists a certain joy from the adrenaline of jumping up and down in a big crowd, dancing with friends, and experiencing the chaotic and crazy energy. Unfortunately, we will not see the ideal music festival experience for a long time.  

Even with a vaccine or a decrease in cases, the coronavirus will not completely disappear, so concerts will not return to our definition of “normal” for some time, to ensure the safety and health of everyone.  

According to Huffington Post, Dr. Kristin Dean, a medical director at Doctor on Demand, “The same safety measures we recommend for reducing the spread of COVID-19 apply to live music shows, including social distancing, wearing a mask, frequent handwashing, disinfecting communal surfaces prior to use and remaining home while you are sick or if you have had a known exposure to COVID-19 within the past 14 days.” 

With less seating, social distancing, masks, the same joy, and excitement may not be present. People may be resistant to concerts out of a concern for safety or maintaining indifferent attitudes because they do not see the worth in attending concerts if it will not be the same.  

However, if music festivals are a sacrifice to keeping ourselves and everyone else around us healthy and safe, it is worth it.  

Send us your thoughts!