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I Am Nervous for Stay Music Images Amid COVID-19


Stay music and the resumption of public faculties have develop into a flashpoint (1, 2) within the battle about masks and vaccines within the public sector. My son is homeschooled so I can’t communicate to that, however I can discuss stay music.

A bit background: I’m a stay music photographer. I attend live shows at the very least twice per week and perhaps a dozen multi-day festivals yearly. Most years this borders on the mundane. It’s quite a lot of flights, quite a lot of ready round to shoot three songs, no flash, then out.

However now, the typical live performance shoot has been upended.

I’m not on this article going to be naming venues, bands, public relations companies, or anybody else concerned in placing on exhibits. I do that as a result of I’ve a profession to consider. I thought of penning this text anonymously and naming names however selected to not. As a substitute, beneath is my account of what it’s prefer to shoot a live performance or competition within the age of COVID-19.

As a credentialed photographer, I’m afforded entry that most people isn’t. For instance, I’ve entry to the photograph pit which is the world between the entrance row and the stage — the man with the digicam wearing all black in entrance of you, that’s me. I’m additionally allowed entry to the whole GA space, the VIP areas, and normally facet stage and generally backstage. Backstage is one thing I’ll by no means speak about or publish, that’s simply how it’s.

Within the newly opened live performance scene — that’s after the reopening however earlier than the Delta variant — issues had been as they at all times had been. I shot an EDM competition in Tampa, one of many world’s largest, and broadly believed to be the primary competition again the place Delta was non-existent and just a few folks out of tens of 1000’s wore a masks. There was a number of moshing, kissing, and plenty of contact with little concern. The competition required employees together with the media to put on masks and so far as I may inform they did. This crowd wasn’t anti-mask, they simply weren’t required to take action and due to this fact they didn’t.

The story is totally different at common live shows held in venues equivalent to bars or music halls. I’ve attended perhaps two dozen indoor live shows within the final 4 months and right here in Florida, the rules are muddled. Our governor doesn’t imagine in COVID-19 and is prepared to punish any enterprise that does. That implies that smaller venues haven’t any selection however to permit patrons in with solely an “advisement” to put on masks and social distance. Proper.

The bigger, corporate-owned amphitheaters have just a little extra wiggle room however are additionally constrained by funds. Most giant amphitheaters are owned by a few companies — you in all probability know who they’re. They need to stroll a high-quality line between preserving the artists, the federal government, and the followers pleased. This implies following a minimal of presidency rules whereas preserving the bands pleased and preserving butts within the seats.

What I’ve seen at amphitheaters is that the rules are barely enforced. The gate employees haven’t any incentive to maintain you out of the venue.

It goes one thing like this:

“Do you will have a detrimental COVID-19 check or have you ever been vaccinated? Sure? Nice! In you go.”

Pretend vaccination docs could be had on the web for as little as $5. As soon as inside you are able to do what you need. Masks? Nope. Distancing? Nope. It’s similar to previous occasions with the sharing of bottles or medicine. At a latest present, the mosh pit was enterprise as standard with sweat and blood flying in all places.

Within the press pit all I’ve to do is flip round and face the rail to see 1000’s of followers crammed in opposition to it with little room to maneuver.

The overwhelming majority of what I hear — I don’t interview, I simply hear — is anti-vax nonsense or simply plain ignorance. Examples embrace “I’m not fats so I’m secure”; “I’ve had it or I’m vaccinated”; “God is simply scaling down the losers.” That is once more, simply observations, not judgments.

What could be carried out? For starters, we want a cheat proof type of proof of vaccination, one thing with a hologram or a barcode that can’t simply be replicated on a laser printer. Since folks which have been vaccinated can nonetheless contract and transmit COVID-19 even when they don’t present signs, masks should nonetheless be a requirement indoors and out anyplace apart from socially distanced pods. Decreased attendance capability is a good suggestion though definitely not well-liked amongst venues or followers. A super state of affairs could be one thing just like what Broadway theaters or the Detroit Symphony Orchestra are doing by requiring attendees to point out proof of full vaccination and to put on masks.

The perfect resolution to scale back the unfold of COVID-19 is to put on masks and follow social distancing tips together with getting vaccinated.

Till live performance attendees comply with these tips and venues implement them, I’m scared for the way forward for stay music.


The opinions expressed on this article are solely these of the writer.


Picture credit: All images by Geoffrey Clowes. Header picture makes use of parts licensed through Depositphotos.


Concerning the writer: Geoffrey Clowes is a live performance photographer based mostly in South Florida. His work is routinely featured in QRO Journal.You’ll be able to see extra of Geoff’s work on his web site or Instagram.



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