I miss live music (and bars and coffee shops and friends and not being worried constantly that my family members will die and the economy will collapse) as much as the next person, but it seems to me that perhaps this isn’t quite the moment to bring back non-virtual concerts. Covid-19 cases continue to rise in many places in the United States even as some battered regions appear to be past their peaks, and public health experts agree that until there’s a vaccine, there should be no large gatherings. Even when businesses like gyms, salons, restaurants, etc. can safely reopen—and experts say now is not the time, despite what some governors/U.S. presidents seem to think—events like festivals and concerts are on ice.
Or at least they, uh, should be. The New York Times reports that Travis McCready is set to play the first pandemic-era concert this coming Friday, in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The show won’t be a packed-room, shoulder-to-shoulder affair, attendees will have to wear masks, and the venue, Temple Live, says they’re only letting 229 people into the 1,100-person capacity theater.
Still, that’s 229 people in an enclosed space, in a state that currently has 4,000 positive covid-19 cases (and growing). Large venues in the state are allowed to reopen on May 18, but indoor venues have to cap attendance at 50 people unless they provide the state with a detailed plan. Not to mention that the concert is scheduled for May 15, which is three days before that directive changes.
Jezebel reached out to Temple Live for comment and will update if and when we hear back. Meanwhile, Mike Brown, a spokesperson for Temple Live, told the New York Times he took issue with the fact that the state had more lenient rules in place for churches than they did for concert venues. “The directive is discriminatory because the virus does not know if it’s in a body in church or high school or a music venue,” he said. “Not that I have anything against church, but if you can go to a church and it’s a public assembly, there is no difference. How is it OK for one group to have a public meeting and it’s not OK for a music venue to have the same opportunity?”
That’s a good point, but it’s probably not a good idea for churches to let a bunch of bodies in to begin with. Either way, as Deadline points out, if the Travis McCready concert does happen on Friday, it’ll be a big test for socially-distanced events. Hopefully it won’t be a fatal one.