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US venue charges for concerts in private gardens

A venue in Evanston, Illinois, is bringing the live concert experience to people’s homes, putting on private, socially distanced gigs for households in their front gardens.

Space, a 330-capacity live music venue and recording studio that has hosted the likes of the Lumineers and Alabama Shakes, announced its To-Go Concerts series last week, with the first 30-minute micro-concerts by Jason Narducy (Bob Mould Band, Split Single, Superchunk, Verböten), set to take place on a number of local residents’ lawns on Saturday (9 May).

The concerts, which include take-away drinks and food from the venue’s sister restaurant, Union Squared, cost US$450 per household and are limited to audiences of ten.

The request line for the first set of concerts are now closed, with Space owner Jake Samuels telling local press that 60 people applied to have a concert on their front lawn.

Staff will be on hand to keep people at a distance and prevent neighbours from wandering over. The team will wear fully sanitised gloves and masks and move on to the next residence if overcrowding becomes an issue.

The concerts, which include take-away drinks and food, cost US$450 per household and are limited to audiences of ten

To-Go Concerts is the latest addition to the venue’s lockdown offering, which has run the free-to-watch All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Show virtual concert series since the venue closed its doors in March. Viewers are encouraged to make a donation of $5 via a virtual tipping tool.

The venue has also set up a GoFundMe page and is selling merchandise. The venue is part of the newly established National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), an alliance of US grassroots venues lobbying congress for sector-specific assistance.

Since 2018, Space has hosted outdoor concert series Out of Space, which has seen performances from the likes of Mavis Staples, Toots and the Maytals, Yo la Tengo and Jeff Tweedy. This year’s edition is set to feature Death Cab For Cutie and Big Boi. A decision will be made on whether the event will go ahead “very soon”. A stay-at-home order is in place in Illinois until the end of May.

Space’s To-Go Concerts initiative is an example of how to generate revenue and keep fans entertained beyond the digital realm, as venues grapple with continuing lockdown restrictions around the world.

Venues remain shuttered in the vast majority of US states, although some in Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas are gradually reopening under certain restrictions. Arkansas venue, TempleLive, plans on staging its first socially distanced concert next week, with concertgoers assigned ‘fan pods’ – clusters of seating separated from other fans.

Photo: James Richards IV/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


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R. Kelly concert permit denied amid “security concerns”

Illinois State has rejected plans for a spring break concert that would have been headlined by R. Kelly. The organisers of Spring Break Jam planned to hold the concert at Illinois State Fairgrounds in April, but officials have denied the application, citing security issues.

Controversial R&B star R. Kelly was to host the proposed event on 6 April in Springfield, Illinois. The line-up also included Yella Beezy, Young Lloyd and Dre Madison. Tickets for the event cost between US$75 and $150, according to previously released promotional material. Such material, including the event page on Eventbrite, has since been taken down.

“Unfortunately, we cannot control when organisers start promoting an event – there was never a signed agreement to host the event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, only an application,” says Denise Albert, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA), reports the Chicago Tribune.

R. Kelly has faced allegations of sexual abuse throughout his career. Criticism of the artist has spiked following the airing of the Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly earlier this month. The documentary exposed detailed accounts of the singer’s alleged physical, sexual and emotional abuse of women, as well as claims that he ran an “abusive cult”.

“We cannot control when organisers start promoting an event – there was never a signed agreement to host the event”

The documentary has prompted many industry figures to denounce R. Kelly. Lady Gaga has since removed her duet with the artist from streaming services, apologising for having collaborated with the singer.

The IDOA claims that the cancellation is down to security concerns spurred by protests against the artist, and not in direct response to the documentary. The proposed event failed to meet the following criteria:

The IDOA have stated that they could reconsider and approve the concert, but only in the event that R. Kelly will not appear on the bill.

 


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