We thought 2020 was a concert year unlike any we’d seen, but 2021 had its own surprises.
When concerts were canceled last year because of the pandemic, drive-in, parking lot, backyard and patio shows helped fill the void. Then along came concerts with pod seating and other safer alternatives.
The arrival this year of vaccines to bring the pandemic under control also brought a flood of concert announcements — and hope for a summer of concerts without restrictions at our favorite venues.
Venues that were unable to operate most of last year —such as Enterprise Center, Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, the Fox Theatre, Stifel Theatre, Chesterfield Amphitheater, Chaifetz Arena and the Old Rock House — are back in business. And St. Louis Music Park and the Factory successfully made their big debuts this summer, without restrictions.
If only it were that easy.
With lagging vaccination rates and COVID on the rise yet again, a growing number of venues are requiring guests to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test. Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, the Pageant, Delmar Hall, Off Broadway, Blue Strawberry, Red Flag, the Heavy Anchor and the Crack Fox are some of the venues with such requirements, along with a number of restaurants and other attractions.
Live Nation president Michael Rapino says COVID vaccines are the ticket back to live concerts. The company will require proof of vaccination or a negative test starting Oct. 4 at all of its venues, concerts and festivals.
Live Nation is the world’s top producer of concerts. It owns Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre and books and promotes nearby St. Louis Music Park. Until Oct. 4, artists at those venues will decide on their own what the requirements are, if any.
So far, Wilco (Aug. 13, St. Louis Music Park), Maroon 5 (Aug. 18, Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre) and Dead & Company (Sept. 13, Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre) have notified concertgoers of such requirements.
AEG Presents, another top producer of concerts, announced similar policies that go into effect Oct. 1. And this week, the Factory in Chesterfield did the same.
As a result, vaccinated concertgoers are feeling more comfortable in close quarters. The unvaccinated, meanwhile, are complaining that their rights are being violated and privacy invaded.
Some of the unvaccinated talk about boycotting concerts and venues with vaccine requirements, failing to realize that keeping them away is exactly the point of the policies.
I’ve been vaccinated since February, and I look forward to a third “booster” shot, whenever it’s recommended. I did it because I knew that’s what it would take to get back to a more normal life — with concerts. But it also was an unselfish decision to protect my older and immunocompromised loved ones.
I feel more at ease at concerts with vaccination requirements, knowing others around me are vaccinated or at least have tested negative for COVID-19. This is especially important to me, since enforcement of mask mandates is lax.
What another person does with their body should always be their choice. But the choice not to be vaccinated against a deadly infectious virus during a pandemic affects many others.
Everyone won’t be able to go to see their favorite artists, and that’s OK. Choices have consequences.
As the folks at the Factory put it this week in their policy announcement: Live music is back — let’s keep it that way. Vaccines are the only way to make that happen.
If you’re a music lover, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is a shot in the arm for live concerts.