Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Concert cancellations, postponements complicate big comeback of Denver live music

As a music fan and mother of two young boys, Erin Roberts has avoided concerts in recent weeks due to COVID concerns – especially in light of her vaccinated mother seeing the Eagles at the Ball Arena on September 18. Later a successful case came to the fore.

While she can’t know for certain where her mother contracted the virus, Roberts said the large number of unmasked concerts led her to believe the show was the culprit.

“The current state of the industry is a complete mess,” said Roberts, 44, whose Denver band Porlolo also canceled this fall over coronavirus concerns. “There is no way to look at anything with certainty.”

Denver music fans have recently noticed an unfortunate trend, which has unfolded as dozens of fall and winter music festivals, whether recently announced or rescheduled from earlier dates, have been stymied by the ongoing pandemic. Being postponed again due to problems. These include band and crew members testing positive for the virus, preemptive artist pull-outs over safety and mental health concerns, loose spots, shifting health mandates and labor shortages.

Meanwhile, fans are scrambling to secure a refund and reorganize their calendars. Big consumer wins — such as last month’s StubHub settlement in which the company paid out $3 million to Colorado residents whose tickets were not refunded since last year — are few and far between.

In October, artists such as Stevie Nicks, Lucinda Williams, Gary Numan, Dispatch, Airborne Toxic Event, Kenny G, 070 Shake and Watsky canceled or postponed Colorado concerts due to coronavirus concerns – in some cases, one or two. day before. scheduled date. They continue to join every week: on October 16, touring band Midland canceled their Red Rocks gig due to “a positive test within camp” according to a publicist (the show is coming back on October 22, 2022).

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Colorado acts like comic-musician Ben Roy and jam band The String Cheese Incident have also canceled national dates due to COVID concerns – with outdoor string cheese shows on July 16 and 18 Red Rocks being the site of a COVID outbreak less infected. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, 14 people.

“Last year I lost over 50 booked concerts, but I got some of them back,” said Cynthia Mardones, 41, aka Denver-based DJ Sinn.

In Colorado, concerts generate $2.1 billion, support 16,127 jobs and contribute $113 million in state and local taxes, according to a September report by Oxford Economics. But that system requires constant circulation of dollars, and any blockage rapidly affects the organs concerned.

According to a report by Denver Arts & Venues, in the four months between April 1 and July 31, 2020, Colorado’s music industry lost 8,327 jobs and $344.6 million in sales revenue. Many players hung out with grants, loans and creative bookkeeping as well as layoffs and furloughs, but a return to the music-free days of 2020 will be the nail in the coffin, industry observers and experts say, with the global music industry in the past. There was a loss of $ 30 billion in the year.

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“My fear is that if fall and winter events are canceled this year, many of our independent venues will cease to exist,” said Chris Zachar, president of the Colorado Independent Venue Association, in August. “Arts and culture is the third biggest economic driver in the state. … When venues are closed or permanently closed, the trickle-down effect is devastating.”

“I don’t know if people are as prepared to be on the show as they said,” said Ru Johnson, 37, an independent Denver promoter specializing in hip-hop and other urban genres. “A lot of us actually thought we’d go to a concert every night, but there’s some weird energy with people trying to re-enter party society.”

Johnson, who is Black, also lamented the misinformation and conspiracy theories seen in communities of color about vaccines and the logistics of getting on the show. She worries that crowds have been depressed at the otherwise safe, welcoming events she has attended, noting that outbreaks of COVID have been relatively rare at concerts.

“A lot of industry a lot of people don’t even know the difference (in the rules) between different promoters and locations,” she said. “I heard from a guy that you have to be vaccinated to go to the ball arena. I was like, ‘They don’t do that (fuck) there. I walked in with a margarita.’ “

Andy Cross, The Denver Post

Concert-goers watch the Brasstracks band perform at the Fox Theater in Boulder on October 06, 2021.

Conversely, concertgoers can’t even go into the lobby at the Mission Ballroom, an AEG presentation venue, without showing a COVID vaccination card — a rule that took effect October 1, as other promoters, venues and bands like Dead & Co. Similar measures for concerts began to be announced.

Representatives for Live Nation, a mega-promoter that operates in Denver, did not respond to requests for comment. AEG Presents Rocky Mountain, the regional giant that books most Red Rocks shows, declined to provide comment to officials.

While experts and analysts have been cautiously optimistic about the return of live music, they have been tight-lipped with forecasts burned by COVID at times over the past 18 months. As is the case with most fans and artists, their hope is that rising vaccination rates will make outbreaks — and, eventually, all COVID concerns — a thing of the past.

“I plan to see (Denver singer-songwriter) Nathaniel Ratliff’s show in December, and I have tickets to the War on Drugs in February, so I’m excited to go to them,” Roberts said. “Unless I’m sick.”

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