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Artist backlash against social distancing in Germany

Strandkorb Open Air, the popular German concert series which seats attendees in socially distanced deck chairs, has lost two of its biggest stars after the singers criticised coronavirus restrictions they say has taken the fun out of performing.

Musical comedian Helge Schneider cancelled all remaining shows as part of Strandkorb Open Air, which is travelling Germany this summer, after walking off stage during a concert in Augsburg.

“It’s not really fun,” he told the 800 people in attendance before stopping the show. “You have no contact with the audience… The system here is specious and stupid. I’m sorry for you and hope you will get your money back.”

After about 20 minutes, a spokesperson for Schneider reappeared and explained that fans should visit Schneider’s website for instructions on how to obtain a refund,” reports the Augsburger Allgemeine.

“It’s not really fun. You have no contact with the audience…”

While Schneider pulled out of the series voluntarily, Nena (of ‘99 Red Balloons’ fame) had her 13 September performance at Strandkorb Open Air cancelled after allegedly encouraging fans to break out of their individual ‘VIP boxes’ during another socially distanced event, Unter Freiem Himmel (Under the Open Sky) on 25 July.

“Take back your freedom,” the 61-year singer told those in attendance. “They have threatened to cancel the show if you do not stay in your boxes, but I will leave it up to you,” she added. “Everyone is free to decide, just as everyone can freely decide whether to get vaccinated or not.”

Der Tagesspiegel writes that Nena’s actions “undermined the event concept, behaving as if she did have to observe the hygiene rules that she accepted by agreeing to her appearance”.

In response, Strandkorb Open Air organiser Hockeypark Betriebs GmbH cancelled the singer’s appearance at its event. A statement posted on the Strandkorb Facebook page says it was “contractually agreed in advance that the concerts should not be used as a political stage” and so organisers would now be distancing themselves “from the statements, and the appearance, of the artist.”


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Hugely popular deck chair series to tour Germany

Strandkorb Open Air, the hugely popular open-air deck chair concert series held in Mönchengladbach last summer, will tour other German cities this spring.

The 63-show series took place between July and October at SparkassenPark in Mönchengladbach last year and sold more than 50,000 tickets, according to organisers.

This spring, Strandkorb Open Air will return to SparkassenPark before touring Brita Arena in Wiesbaden, Stadthallen Stadion in Cham, St. Wendel/Bostalsee in Saarland, Augsburg exhibition grounds and Hoppegarten racecourse in Berlin.

The Covid-compliant shows will comprise up to 800 socially distanced deck chairs…hosting up to 3,200 attendees

The Covid-compliant shows will comprise up to 800 socially distanced deck chairs, each of which can seat up to four people, hosting up to 3,200 attendees. The shows will also utilise hygiene measures including one-way walkways to avoid contact with other visitors, as well as a food and drink delivery service.

Sparkassenpark boss Michael Hilgers says he is expecting around 200 shows, with more cities to be announced.

“After the season ended, many colleagues came up to me and asked if I could imagine implementing the concept with them,” Hilgers told MusikWoche. “Since I know how difficult it is for our industry at the moment and how well the concept worked and was accepted, we didn’t hesitate for long.”

Artists that have been announced so far include Pietro Lombardi, Kasalla, Daniel Wirtz, Mono Inc, Gentleman, In Extremo and Steel Age. Tickets are on sale now.


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50,000 attend Germany deck chair shows

Strandkorb Open Air, the open-air deckchair concert series held at Warsteiner Hockey Park in Mönchengladbach, Germany, came to a close on Sunday 4 October after having sold more than 50,000 tickets.

Taking place in a unique socially distanced format utilising 450 deck chairs, the series was one of a number of innovative concert formats devised by German promoters – along with the likes of Picknick Konzerte and Back to Live – over a long, disrupted, largely festival-free summer.

According to organisers, over 50,000 spectators attended the 63 shows over 82 days. More than 150 artists were involved, as well as 80 crew and 20 other employees.

Half of all shows were sold out, including Brings, Höhner, Markus Krebs, Kasalla, Pietro Lombardi, Martin Rütter and Michael Mittermeier, with an average of 80% occupancy over the run.

Michael Hilgers, managing director of the park, says further shows are booked at the venue for November.


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Latvia paves the way for float-in music festivals

Latvia is the latest country to come up with a creative format for socially distanced concerts after pioneering float-in music festival, Laiva.

The one-day festival took place on Lake Jugla and saw 1,500 people in boats watch Laima Jansone, Tautumeitas and Dagamba perform on the shores, at the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum.

Guests were invited to either rent a boat or bring their own, provided it fell into the category of a rowing boat, SUP board, or a motorboat with a lift motor.

The festival, which took place on 8 August, was streamed live on TV channel LMT Straume and organisers dubbed it “a phenomenal evening”.

From deck chair concerts in Germany to tuk-tuk drive-ins in Thailand and bike-in concerts in Italy, Lativa’s float-in music festival is the latest in a series of innovative socially distanced shows taking place worldwide.

Latvia’s government has reported 1,290 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 32 related deaths. In May, The Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania opened their borders to one another, creating Europe’s first coronavirus “travel bubble” since nations began shutting their borders earlier this year.


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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