Industry report predicts a mosh-less, very socially-distanced future for Tampa Bay concerts

Don't stand so close to me.

click to enlarge Tight crowds, like this one at the Next Big Thing 2019 in Tampa, might be a thing of the past. - Marlo Miller
Marlo Miller
Tight crowds, like this one at the Next Big Thing 2019 in Tampa, might be a thing of the past.

The focus of fans and professionals in the music industry right now is on puzzling out the question of when live music can happen again safely. Lurking immediately under that question is another just as important: What will shows look like in the age of coronavirus? In brief: Do you remember having communal fun at shows? Well, forget about all of that.

Mosh pits, crowd surfing, even crowding in close at the front of the stage are all quite possibly things of the past, according to a new report this week released by the Event Safety Alliance.

The Event Safety Alliance (ESA), headed up by Steven Adelman and Jacob Worek, surveyed hundreds of their colleagues and event professionals over the last month about the changing face of live music. The feedback and findings were collected into a new 29-page report, The Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide, which makes a number of recommendations – not concrete policies (yet) – for venues to proceed as reopening in states continue apace.

The sections of the report gaining particular notice from websites like Brooklyn Vegan and Metalsucks – and shock from music fans – center around modifying behavior at shows. Let's just say that concerts might be a very static affair in the near-term future:

Patrons cannot all stand at the front of the stage like they are accustomed; moshing and crowd surfing are violations of social distancing per se and must be absolutely prohibited during this pandemic.

There are also rigorous guidelines for venues and staff including hiring infection mitigation coordinators, wearing masks and regular sanitizing of high-use surfaces, temperature checks of attendees and staggering entry into the venue. Further suggestions include:

  • High conspicuity gaff tape on the floor of an indoor space, or spray chalk, survey flags, and cones for outdoor spaces, to mark six foot (two meter) separation.
  • Rope barriers and stanchions or bike rack to physically separate patrons.
  • Open areas patrolled by workers performing the guest services functions of providing information, enforcing rules, and modeling healthy behavior.
  • Messaging to patrons before and during the event through electronic messaging and physical signage.
  • Messaging by the performer during the event. 

Despite the fact that everything can change on a dime with the discovery of a vaccine or a second wave of the pandemic putting us under even more stringent lockdowns, this is still a sobering read. These are all measures being discussed by venues, promoters, and Ticketmaster employees. We're not disputing the logic or the probable necessity of these guidelines, we're just taken aback by how much they'd fundamentally alter the experience and dynamic of attending a show in a smaller venue.

And this isn't even taking into account news that the Governor of Missouri decreed that concerts can resume in the state, and the notion of drive-in shows is being floated in Texas and Colorado. The only clear consensus at this moment is that both musicians and their audience should be at home.

This post originally appeared on CL sibling publication Orlando Weekly.

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