Notes on News: Will Drive-in Gigs Work?

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As we all know, the ongoing pandemic has led to the cancellation of a lot of events. The arts industry has been hit financially the hardest, with the closure of cinemas, theatres and venues across the country. Artists and independent venues are struggling, and so there has had to be some innovative changes to the way we watch live music. At first, this started with gig livestreams, and now the concept of drive-in gigs has been introduced.

As a new concept, only a few artists have attempted drive-in gigs. Southampton local Seán McGowan hosted one at Royal Victoria Chapel, which seemed to work flawlessly. With a field full of cars, a gorgeous view of the sunset and fans respecting the social distancing measures, there wasn’t much that could go wrong.

However, this safe, socially distanced zone could potentially become threatened with bigger shows, as it’s hard to imagine how these will legitimately work. Live Nation Entertainment, who usually bring 40,000 shows and 100+ festivals to life each year, have announced their plans for larger drive-in concerts this year.

These drive-in concerts are due to be staged across 12 different cities in the UK, including London, Edinburgh and Birmingham. Some artists included in this summer’s plans are Jack Savoretti, Gary Numan, and Nathan Dawe, so there’s a range of music that everyone can enjoy.

Organisers of these drive-in concerts claim that there will be a limit of 300 cars per event, but this poses some questions. Will this restriction drive up ticket prices, since it’ll be a more intimate show than usual? Yet, despite the intimacy, can the show be as intimate as those at smaller venues when considering the distance which the crowd must keep from each other and the stage? Will it be worth it?

Another question to ask is about the facilities present. At any other gig, there’s the opportunity for a drink and snacks as well as the presence of a toilet. However, how will these shared facilities work? With 300 cars, that leaves the potential for 300-1200 people (providing there are no restrictions on how many people are present in each vehicle) attending each event. The social distancing restrictions in the crowd will surely become somewhat redundant if facilities are shared between thousands of people.

The concept of drive-in gigs is at such an early stage that it’s hard to decipher whether it’ll fully work out or not. For smaller shows, like McGowan’s in Southampton, it proved a perfect way to celebrate live music again and support smaller artists. However, the concept of larger shows performed with 300 vehicles present does raise some questions. It will help out the artists and benefit the live music industry, but is it worth it when considering how far away much of the crowd will be from the stage and the potential for failures in social distancing?

Find out more about the LiveNation drive in gigs here. You can listen to Seán McGowan’s most recent single, Heartbreaker, below:

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Live Editor 2019/20 & second year English student. Can usually be found procrastinating my degree at a gig, or trying (and failing) to complete my Goodreads challenge

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