Live mu­sic hopes to or­ches­trate come­back

Or­ga­niz­ers test out mod­els for so­cially dis­tant con­certs

Orlando Sentinel - - People & Arts - By Kristin M. Hall

The last time bassist Jon Jones played a con­cert with his coun­try group Eli Young Band was March 8. He hopes to hit the stage again in June to launch a new drive-in con­cert se­ries in his first re­turn to live mu­sic with fans since the coro­n­avirus pan­demic be­gan.

“This is go­ing to be a sur­real kind of set­ting,” Jones said of plans to play acous­ti­cally to 400 cars full of peo­ple at the new Texas Rangers sta­dium in Ar­ling­ton.

As states start to let busi­nesses re­open un­der lim­i­ta­tions, mu­sic in­dus­try or­ga­niz­ers are test­ing out new mod­els of smaller, so­cially dis­tant con­certs. Jones is cau­tiously op­ti­mistic that drive-in con­certs might help crack open a door for mu­si­cians that slammed shut so quickly in March.

“We’re go­ing to be one of those last in­dus­tries, those last seg­ments that opens up, un­for­tu­nately,” Jones said. “I do hope that ev­ery­body is cau­tious and opens up ap­pro­pri­ately and slowly.”

Ge­orge Couri, of artist man­age­ment com­pany Triple 8 Man­age­ment, teamed up with the Rangers to put on the four-night con­cert se­ries called Con­cert in Your Car start­ing June 4. The in­ter­est was so high that tick­ets sold out quickly and ad­di­tional shows were added. In all, 3,200 tick­ets have been sold.

“It’s about cre­at­ing an ex­pe­ri­ence for live mu­sic again,” said Couri. “The big driver for me is to prove it can work. It would give peo­ple hope that this can be re­peated again and again in many dif­fer­ent places.”

But the path ahead for live con­certs hasn’t been easy. A venue in Arkansas ini­tially had to post­pone an in­door con­cert that would have de­fied the state’s ban on large gath­er­ings af­ter health of­fi­cials or­dered the show shut down. The con­cert fea­tur­ing singer Travis McCready went on May 18.

Drive-in con­certs aren’t new, but in the wake of the pan­demic, the idea hit in Europe and now the United States. Coun­try star Keith Ur­ban played a drive-in the­ater in Ten­nessee on May 14 with scaled back pro­duc­tion and crew, but he said that he thinks the con­cert in­dus­try in the near fu­ture will pivot to a drivein style, but with larger ca­pac­ity.

“The stage is go­ing to be com­ing out to the park­ing lot, and peo­ple will be stay­ing in their cars,” said Ur­ban. “It will be an end­less tail­gate party.”

In Florida, DJ D-Nice, who has been en­ter­tain­ing peo­ple on­line with his pop­u­lar DJ sets on In­sta­gram called #ClubQuar­an­tine, played mu­sic for firstre­spon­ders in their cars on May 16. Con­cert pro­moter and venue op­er­a­tor Live Na­tion is plan­ning to test fan­less con­certs, drive-in con­certs and “re­duced ca­pac­ity shows” both in­doors and out­doors, ac­cord­ing to Pres­i­dent and CEO Michael Rapino, who spoke about the ideas on an in­vestor call.

“I think peo­ple need some­thing safe that they can go do, and if we can be that, that’s awe­some,” said Jones.

PATRIC SCH­NEI­DER/AP 2014

The Eli Young Band will take the stage as part of Con­cert in Your Car at the new Texas Rangers sta­dium in June.

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