The tragic events of 2020 threw a wrench into the fabulous plans that everyone made at the start of the year. Actually, 2020 has been more like a hailstorm of wrenches wrecking everything that it comes into contact with. For several music lovers and avid concert-goers, the announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of the year meant that lots of music artists would be cancelling or postponing their shows.
These cancellations at the very beginning of the pandemic became less tragic as people have found ways to adapt and work around the rules of COVID. These new standards that events are required to enforce come with a purpose in order to keep everyone safe. As long as the regulations are followed, a new way of concerts is able to arise. The combination of outdoor music and a drive-in movie format is the result of these new drive-in concerts that a number of artists have expressed interest in pursuing.
Though I do not consider myself to be an avid concert-goer, I am most definitely a music lover who probably attends more concerts than the average person, so I, of course, had to investigate what the new “normal” of concerts might look like for the time being. I am delighted by the fact that I have had the opportunity to attend two drive-in concerts since the slow and progressive reopening of the country. Both experiences were vastly different, yet both enjoyable in the sense that they each had their own appeal.
The first concert that I attended took place in late August, on the Ventura fairgrounds. Fitz and the Tantrums were playing live, and with absolutely no idea of what to expect, my concert-going comrades jumped at the opportunity to purchase our first drive-in concert ticket. The tickets were issued based on the car and placement in the parking lot. For example, the ticket we purchased was for one car and second to last row. Our party was surprised to discover that even though the tickets were purchased for the very back, the experience would have been the same if we had been parked at the front. The cars entering the concert were directed by parking attendants, all wearing masks, to the row that they had purchased based on their ticket. Once your car was parked, they allowed you to exit your car but remain six feet away from the surrounding people and cars. Additionally, the parking lot attendants were enforcing the rule of wearing masks in order to keep everyone present safe in order to ensure that these types of events could be continued.
Fitz and the Tantrums put on a good show, maintaining high energy throughout, but the crowd is what lacked the energy. Because everyone was sitting down in the trunks of their cars, the intense energy of everybody jumping up and down, screaming the lyrics from indoor concerts was lost. I think that in time, this aspect of the drive-in concert could change and perhaps the energy would be different for a bigger artist, but I have hope that these will continue and be a safe and enjoyable event for the public.
The second drive-in concert was a much smaller venue, held in the parking lot of Real Life LA church where there were four different artists who played in a span of three hours. The event was much more intimate, a smaller crowd and smaller artists, but overall still a great night that abided by the laws so that everyone felt safe. Though this concert also lacked the electric buzz from previous concerts pre-COVID, this event cast out a feeling closer to a warm hug. The smaller crowd created a closer connection between the audience and the artists. Stories were shared, jokes were cracked, and the night was filled with great music.
Being fortunate enough to attend these drive-in concerts was a reminiscent experience to be among a crowd of people, even if they are six feet (or more) apart, all enjoying music together. These types of concerts are a way to escape the walls of the house that tend to seem overbearing after spending prolonged periods of time within them, while simultaneously abiding by the laws to help stop the spread of COVID-19.