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Covid puts the brakes on big US recovery

A swathe of concerts, festivals and tours in the US have been cancelled or postponed in the last week amid concerns over the spread of the delta variant of Covid-19.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival was officially cancelled on Sunday 8 August “as a result of the current exponential growth of new Covid cases in New Orleans and the region and the ongoing public health emergency”.

The AEG festival, which would’ve taken place between 8–17 October 2021, typically attracts around 500,000 attendees across the seven days.

The 2021 edition was rescheduled in January to October, from its traditional spring dates of 22 April – 2 May. The festival’s lineup included Dead & Company, Stevie Nicks, Foo Fighters, Jimmy Buffett, Lizzo, Demi Lovato and more.

Artists including Michael Bublé, Limp Bizkit, Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings have exercised similar caution, postponing or cancelling late summer and early august 2021 dates due to uncertainty surrounding Covid.

“I do not want to put my fans, band or crew at risk by putting them in a situation that could possibly affect their health”

Last week, Michael Bublé announced the postponement of a string of August shows in the US, citing the current surge in new Covid-19 cases in the country – which are at the highest rate since early February, according to a New York Times database.

The August shows have now been rescheduled to take place in the second half of October. For now, Bublé’s September shows in the US are still going ahead as planned.

“I do not want to put my fans at risk, nor my band and crew, by putting them in a situation that could possibly affect their health and therefore their friends and family. It is better for me to reschedule these shows to a time when all of us are confident that we can relax and enjoy the show,” he said in a press statement.

Rock band Limp Bizkit has also announced the cancellation of their remaining August tour dates, citing concern over the rising tide of Covid-19 infections.

“Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of the band, crew and most of all the fans, the Limp Bizkit August tour is being cancelled. Refunds are available from your point of purchase,” a statement from the tour said.

“Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of the band, crew and most of all the fans, the tour is cancelled”

Affected dates include eight shows in August, including performances at Stubbs BBQ in Austin, the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, and Irving Plaza in New York.

Canadian rock legends Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings have followed suit, announcing that the US leg of their ‘Together Again – Live In Concert’ tour has been cancelled, again, due to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Slated to start 1 September at the Foellinger Theatre in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the tour was scheduled to run through the rest of the month before finishing at the Smith Centre in Las Vegas on 24 September.

“While Randy and Burton have been looking forward to reuniting for their fans throughout the United States, they extend their love and appreciation to all of the fans that were planning to come to these shows, and they cannot wait to see you all again when things are more predictable in terms of travel in and out of Canada.”

The growing concerns about artists’ health and safety while gigging during the pandemic have been validated by a slate of cancellations due to touring members testing positive for Covid-19.

Counting Crows pulled out of their Boston show mere hours before the show after a touring member tested positive

On Sunday (8 August), American rock band Counting Crows pulled out of their Boston show mere hours before they were due on stage after a member of the band’s touring party tested positive for Covid-19.

The band were forced to postpone the concert at Leader Bank Pavilion, as well as their gig in Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, Ohio, two nights later.

In a post on social media, they noted that the entire band and crew have been vaccinated and have been taking precautions to be as safe as possible.

Similarly, rock stalwarts Lynyrd Skynyrd postponed four upcoming performances on their current summer tour after the band’s longtime guitarist Rickey Medlocke tested positive for Covid-19.

Affected shows include 9 August performance at Tom Beson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio; 10 August at the Jackson County Fair in Jackson, Michigan; Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood in Atlanta on 13 August; and Rock The South in Culman, Alabam on 14 August.

The US is averaging more than 124,000 new virus cases each day – the highest rate since early February

Sebastian Bach also announced he had tested positive after several shows and days earlier, Fall Out Boy pulled out of their spots on the ‘Hella Mega’ tour (with Green Day and Weezer) in Boston, New York, and Washington DC.

The US is averaging more than 124,000 new virus cases each day, more than double the levels of two weeks ago and the highest rate since early February, according to a New York Times database.

As the Delta variant tears through the US, more key players from the country’s live sector are implementing mandates to keep staff and artists safe.

Yesterday (9 August), Live Nation announced it is allowing artists performing at its US venues to require all attendees and staff to be fully vaccinated or to show a negative test result to gain entry, where permitted by law.

While New York became the first major city to require proof of being vaccinated for anyone who wants to attend an indoor live show – reinforcing similar requirements already set by venues such as Madison Square Garden.

 


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Virtual event to replace cancelled Burning Man 2020

Burning Man is the latest US festival to be called off due to the coronavirus pandemic, with organisers announcing that the famous Black Rock City will take the form of a “virtual metropolis” instead this year.

The countercultural gathering was set to take place from 30 August to 7 September in Nevada’s Black Rock desert.

“After much listening, discussion, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City in 2020,” reads a statement on the Burning Man website.

“Given the painful reality of Covid-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, we believe this is the right thing to do.”

The event, often dubbed as an “anti-festival”, will go ahead online, however, with fans invited to enter the Virtual Black Rock City 2020, in keeping with the event’s 2020 theme, the Multiverse.

“Given the painful reality of Covid-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, we believe this is the right thing to do”

Unsure what form the online gathering will take, the Burning Man team says although it “will likely be messy and awkward with mistakes”, the virtual event will also be “engaging, connective, and fun”.

The first round of Burning Man ticket sales took place last month, with 4,000 tickets prices at $1,400 sold during the ‘FOMO’ ticket sale in March, as well as those sold through Direct Group Sale (DGS). The event’s main ticket sale was postponed earlier this month.

Organisers state they are “committed” to providing refunds to “those who need them”, adding that they hope some “will consider donating all or a portion of your ticket value, and/or making a tax-deductible donation to (non-profit festival organiser) Burning Man Project”.

“Substantial” staff layoffs, pay reductions and other cost-cutting measures will be needed to ensure the organisation remains operational into next year’s event season, say organisers.

Burning Man joins other major US events to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak, including South by Southwest, Governors Ball, Boston Calling, Firefly Festival and Ultra Miami, with Coachella, Bonnaroo, BottleRock, New Orleans’ Jazz Fest and Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas all pushed back to later in the year.

Photo: Bureau of Land Management/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)


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More US festivals pushed back to autumn

Following the postponement earlier this month of California’s Coachella, other major US music festivals are falling prey to the coronavirus outbreak, with Bonnaroo, BottleRock and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival among those to have rescheduled for later this year.

Live Nation/AC Entertainment’s Bonnaroo Music & Artists Festival, based on the ‘Farm’ in Manchester, Tennessee, announced yesterday (18 March) it will take place from 24 to 27 September instead of the originally scheduled 11–14 June.

Bonnaroo, one of the longest-running multi-genre music festivals in North America, was to have been headlined by Tool, Lizzo and Tame Impala, with Miley Cyrus, Flume, Bassnectar, Lana Del Rey and Vampire Weekend also confirmed. It is unclear if all artists will play the rescheduled event.

“Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival will be rescheduled to take place September 24–27, 2020, out of an abundance of caution and for the health and safety of all Bonnaroovians, artists, staff and our community,” reads a statement from the festival.

“Please continue to radiate positivity through this uncharted time in our world,” it adds. “Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you on the Farm this fall.”

BottleRock Napa Valley, originally scheduled for 22–24 May, has, like Coachella, been pushed back to October (albeit a week earlier, 2–4 October).

“The health and safety of the community, our musicians, festival fans, participants, sponsors and staff are paramount”

“It is with great pleasure we can announce that all our headliners, including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Nicks, Dave Matthews Band, Miley Cyrus, Khalid, Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals, Zedd and more are confirmed for the rescheduled dates,” the Napa, California, festival – also a Live Nation event – says in a statement.

“Additional line-up updates will be announced as soon as possible,” BottleRock adds.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, whose 2020 line-up features the Who, Foo Fighters, Stevie Nicks, Lizzo, Lionel Richie and Dead and Company, is also now taking place this autumn, though organiser New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation has to announce the new dates.

“At the direction of the City of New Orleans authorities, in response to ongoing Covid-19 health concerns, the 2020 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will not occur this April and May, as scheduled,” reads a statement from the festival. “The health and safety of the community, our musicians, festival fans, participants, sponsors and staff are paramount, and we urge everyone to follow the guidelines and protocols put forth by public health officials.”

Jazz Fest was originally scheduled for 23 April to 3 May.

The postponements follow the outright cancellations of the 2020 editions of South by Southwest, Ultra Music Festival Miami and the UK’s Glastonbury Festival.

 


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