It has been more than 365 days since I have been to a live music show. The exact date of the last concert I attended was Dec. 13, 2019. Andrew McMahon brought his limited Winter in the Wilderness tour to Madison; the tour even brought people in from other states and I ended up talking with a couple who came to Wisconsin from Colorado just to see him perform. I’m happy the last concert I experienced was really enjoyable.
But for someone who at one point was going to at least one show per month, the lack of live in-person music in my life for 14 months has been a bit of a sour spot.
Last week, FPC Live announced it was bringing back live music to Madison this year. Breese Stevens Field would host several concerts beginning May 6 with precautions put into place.
Attendees would be put into one of 378 “pods,” essentially 8x8 sections that can hold up to four people and spaced out at least 6 feet apart. People would be required to wear masks when outside their pods and encouraged to wear a face covering when not eating or drinking in their pod. There would be staggered entrance times and exiting.
Now, as an avid concertgoer, this news was – pardon the pun – music to my ears. But then, the deeper thoughts emerged in my brain.
Last summer, my parents and I attended a Madison Forward soccer game. People were spaced out and only alternate rows of bleachers were available for seating. Masks were required. I felt secure and, if the seating situation and mask requirement is mirrored this year, I’m likely to attend.
But for some reason, returning to outdoor music has me a bit more worried. For one thing, the “crowd,” staff and athletes at the soccer game seemed like less than 500 people. A sold out show at Breese Stevens could be 1,512 attendees plus staff and musicians. Another is that even though the groups of people at the soccer match were spaced more than 6 feet apart, masks were still required. At the Madison concerts, masks would be encouraged inside your pod, but not required; I’m not even going to guess how many people would see this as a chance to go maskless.
Then, of course, there is the challenge of finding three other people to split the pod with. I know my regular concert buddy has been taking the COVID-19 precautions and would be a fairly safe person to share a pod with along with his fiancée. If need be, to feel extra safe, the people in the pod could each sit in a corner of the square to create even more social distance and stay masked the entire time except when consuming food or beverages.
But, my friends and I don’t always share the same taste in music. If I’m the only person who wants to attend the concert, I’m on the hook for paying $120-$200 for a pod. That basically prices me out of attending a show solo. It’s even expensive for two people to attend because, honestly, there aren’t too many bands I’m willing to fork over a minimum of $60 plus fees to see. Add in the fact that outdoor shows go on rain or shine and you run the chance of being miserable due to a downpour.
As an aside, there are already people asking FPC Live “Can two adults and three kids share a pod because it’s my immediate family?” Saying yes to this creates a slippery slope. What if someone says: “Can we share if it’s four adults and one kid and three of the adults live together and the other adult and the kid live together?” “Can five adults who live together share a pod?” “There are eight of us who live/work/regularly socialize together; can we have adjacent pods and go between the two spaces?”
Plus, how can you be sure that won’t be pod swapping? Did the four people in the pod now arrive together or did a few people change groups to visit with other friends at the show.
If the price of the pod could be split between four people and I had my vaccine, I would have less hesitation about attending, particularly if it was a band I really wanted to see. But, as much as I miss live, in-person music, I also want to continue my no-COVID streak; I’m willing to wait a bit longer.