Live Music in a (Semi) Post-COVID-19 World

November 18, 2021
Ariel Guttman

Syosset, New York, United States

Class of 2023

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When asked a year ago what I missed most about life before the pandemic, I would’ve responded with a wide variety of things. Of course, there was the classic “having a social life,” or attending in-person BBYO experiences, or even being at school full-time, but one of my regular answers was “live music.” As the child of two life-long Dead Heads, I grew up attending concerts and shows, learning how to experience music in its most communal and exciting form. Although COVID-19 gave me another outlet for my concert budget (collecting vinyl), Pandemia left a hole in my heart where live music had long occupied.

In the past three months, I’ve seen six concerts. While that may seem like a lot (and definitely is), it’s just beginning to cover all the ones I missed due to quarantine. The day after I left Perlman, I filled the void ILTC and Kallah had left in me with the New York stop of the Hella Mega Tour. My dad and I had been planning to see this show for two years at that point, as it would’ve marked our third time seeing Fall Out Boy, along with giving us the opportunity to see Green Day and Weezer. However, this concert perfectly illustrated how disorganized COVID-19 has left the music industry: Fall Out Boy wasn’t able to perform due to a member of their crew testing positive that day.

My first three concerts this year were in outdoor arenas where I felt somewhat comfortable without my mask in the open air. Of course, while walking through venues and surrounded by people, I’d wear my mask to protect myself and those around me. But as most concerts began requiring vaccines, I questioned whether it was necessary while stationary in my seats. At the Dead & Company concert I attended in Hartford, CT in early September, with COVID-19 cases down and a calm atmosphere, I was okay enjoying the music without my mask in the outdoor pavilion. But in the much smaller and indoor venue, Terminal 5 in NYC for the band Goose mid-October, I was faced with a bit of a dilemma: to mask, or not to mask? As well as being some of the youngest there, my friend and I were some of the only attendees wearing masks for the duration of the show. Despite requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test at the door, the close proximity of concert-goers in a completely general admission audience left me uneasy. When did the environment that for so much of my life acted as my happy place become such a center of my anxiety? When in the nearly two-year period between my final pre-pandemic concert and recent return did enjoying music among crowds of fans transition from a safe space to one that sparked such uncertainty?

Green Day and Weezer, Dead & Co., The Neighborhood, Goose, Harry Styles (twice!)... None of it felt real. I saw a bunch of virtual concerts while in quarantine. Why did that feel more normal than live music today? Regardless, I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to get back on my concert-going grind. Even more than seeing your favorite artist in person, there will never be a better feeling than hearing an entire venue sing the same song you’ve listened to a billion times even louder than the highest volume on your personal speakers. Though I may listen to the same albums alone in my room or on the bus home from school or in the comfort of my best friend’s basement on the weekends, nothing can compare to the complete euphoria that live music sparks in me. As the world continues to open back up as we move to a future post-COVID-19, I can’t wait to see the faces behind the masks as we sing together at Madison Square Garden, Forest Hills Stadium, Terminal 5, and beyond.

Ariel Guttman is a BBG from Nassau Suffolk Region and loves BBYO and spreading positivity!

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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