This article was originally published in The UB Post on March 13, 2020.
Last week, I wrote about the upcoming D.C. Jam, a one-day music festival planned for July 4. While no announcement has been made yet concerning the cancellation of the festival, this event may be in jeopardy of being postponed or cancelled, like so many other events that are swiftly being modified to meet the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has affected various communities worldwide. While more cancellations are likely to come, COVID-19 has already drastically impacted a number of annual festivals, tours and concerts.
On March 6, the city of Austin, TX announced that South by Southwest, the celebrated tech and music festival would be cancelled, and potentially rescheduled sometime later this year. Austin Public Health said, “there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.” Despite their statement, many are taking such precautions out of an abundance of caution.
On Tuesday, Coachella also announced plans to postpone the annual music festival six months, until October 2020. Coachella organizers apologized for the inconvenience but asked people to “follow the guidelines and protocols put forth by public health officials.”
Dr. Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease physician specialist at Columbia University, says that music fans everywhere should expect cancellations and postponements. “The concern we’re seeing now is that, as we have an increased capacity to do testing, we’re seeing that this virus is already widespread in the country. You go to a concert, there’s that many people and that level of transmission that occurs at a concert. Unfortunately, those will be big spreading events.”
Concert promoters like Live Nation have taken measures themselves to be proactive about fighting the virus. Yesterday, Live Nation announced that they would halt all large-scale tours, in addition to requesting that artists return home. This comes as many local and state governments begin to institute bans on large gatherings (generally 500+ people).
Local venues like the 9:30 Club and The Anthem in Washington, D.C. are seeing a dramatic impact from the virus as they halted all performances through the end of the month. “The health of our employees, patrons, community and artists is paramount,” said I.M.P., the promoter for the 9:30 Club, “We look forward to seeing everyone in April and beyond.”
Tony Sheaffer is a staff writer at the UB Post who writes a weekly music column, Friday Groove.