While our outlook for the summer had been initially cautiously optimistic, when, throughout the spring, vaccine rates were rising and Covid-19 cases on the decline as live music returned to some resembling normalcy, the spread of the Delta variant in recent months has, of course, made enhanced safety and caution a necessity once again, especially here in Tennesee where we lag in vaccination rates compared to much of the nation (head here for local vaccine resources).
Thankfully, in lieu of another shutdown, and in the interest of public safety, the music industry has been recently rallying to put new measures in place to protect concert-goers and artists, ranging from mask mandates to proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test, to full-on vaccination-only admittance, in the case of one prominent national promoter. Locally, we first saw precautions roll out from City Winery, The East Room, and The 5 Spot, followed last week by a coordinated announcement from a whole host of other venues, like the Mercy Lounge/Cannery Ballroom/High Watt complex, The Basement and Basement East, Rock Block haunts Exit/In and The End, Drkmttr, Springwater Supper Club, The Bluebird Cafe, and Dee’s Lounge. Notably, these venues are all offering attendees the option of supplying a recent negative Covid test, in place of proof of vaccination; something that is free, easy, and available to everyone. A handful of others, like The Ryman Auditorium and Marathon Music Works have not yet announced updated policies, while Bridgestone Arena encourages, but doesn’t strictly enforce, mask use. And some, like 3rd & Lindsley, will defer to the artists to set their policies.
In the case of larger spaces, Live Nation, the largest concert promoter in the country, is currently opting to allow artists to set their own Covid rules, but more recently announced that their vast network of venues and prominent music festivals will require either proof of vaccination or a recent negative test beginning Oct. 4. This will presumably apply to several Nashville venues like Ascend Amphitheater, Brooklyn Bowl, Municipal Auditorium, and the new FirstBank Amphitheater, with all Live Nation employees also required to be vaccinated by October. For their part, AEG, Live Nation’s biggest competitor, has taken the aggressive stance that all of its venues and festivals will require proof of full vaccination by Oct. 1 (with the negative test exemption remaining in place until then). Though a prominent promotional force in Nashville, AEG doesn’t technically own any local spaces, but we presume this policy could extend to any event where they act as promoter.
And finally, the case of festivals, following a vaccine-enforced Lollapalooza, and the abrupt recent cancelation of this year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest, major events across the nation have been rolling out new safety requirements, including nearby Moon River, Railbird, Shaky Knees, Furnace Fest, Pilgrimage Fest, AmericanaFest, and, most prominently, Bonnaroo, which has announced that either proof of vaccination or a recent negative test must be supplied to attend this year’s fest (details here). AEG’s fests, including Hangout and Coachella, will follow their full-vaccination mandate, and we suspect most every major festival will follow suit in some capacity.
All of that said, if you want to partake in live music for the foreseeable future, and still haven’t been vaccinated, we hope this will be the final motivation, as vaccines are proven to be safe and effective, especially in preventing severe cases and death, and are still free and readily available. Take care of each other, and let’s make sure concerts can continue as safely as possible!