It’s been three months, and that blasted virus is still doing the rounds – or at least, it is as far as I can tell from my Bristol bedroom, which I currently leave only to purchase four packs of beans and/or lager.
The coronavirus pandemic has given a kicking to pretty much every industry out there, and music is no exception. No gigs have taken place in the UK since late March, and all festivals are off (including our 2020 goal, Glasto). It’s a huge loss, of course – but it’s the right decision. It’s better to forgo playing live in order to… well, to forgo being dead.
That said, the Flaming Lips were on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert the other night, performing with both the band and the audience entombed in individual plastic bubbles. Pretty smart; pretty sneaky – and if they can do it, you can do it. C’mon let’s brainstorm.
HOW TO GIG RESPONSIBLY DURING CORONAVIRUS
Pull a Beatles
On the 29th of August 1969, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr appeared on the rooftop of 3 Saville Row, London, to give their last performance of their careers. A crowd gathered in the street below, and office workers in surrounding buildings listened and hand-jived from their windows. Ending with John Lennon’s immortal line, “I hope we’ve passed the audition,” the gig is one of the most iconic of all time.
You and your bandmates can emulate this – and avoid the pestilence that stalks our streets – by clambering atop your garage and pumping out sweet music to the congregation below. Don’t have a garage? Clamber up onto the eaves of your house! Alternatively, if you’re too much of a coward to ease yourself out of an attic window and onto your slanted tile roof, consider cramming your band up against a nice bay window to thrill any passing neighbours with your live show.
Busk in a meadow
The downside of buildings is that they have walls and ceilings that germs can stick to and rebound off, sailing straight into any of your softest, most vulnerable orifices. Buildings are a pit of disease – get out of them at once and flock to the valleys and meadows of the UK’s national parks. Set up each band member atop a different grassy hillock, and arrange each attendee on subsequent hills/mountaintops until you reach maximum occupancy/the horizon.
Design company Production Club have designed the Micrashell, a spacesuit for your head and upper torso, allowing us to cram onto sweaty dancefloors once more. As well as protecting you from the virus, it comes with built-in vape functionality, a neon fishbowl helmet complete with speakers, and a jar for funnelling wine directly inside you. Colourful lights lining the suit can even signal what mood the user is currently in. Set phasers to ‘mashed’.
Take a leaf out of 50’s Americana and hit up the drive in. Imagine the thrill of it – rolling up to the car park with your mates, dressed to kill, seatbelts on, windows up, safe and snug from the toxic death-wind howling outside. Imagine the mad energy as you line up with all the other cars, and the people in the back crack tins and clink glasses, and then the band arrives on stage, also inside their cars. Lead singer crooning into a microphone plugged into the cigarette lighter, bassist struggling to find an angle which doesn’t involve the head of his instrument poking through the ceiling, drummer thrashing around on the backseat like a wasp in an upturned pint glass: gorgeous.
What do gig venues typically have very little of? That’s right: elbow room. What do they have an abundancy of? You got it: headspace. So here’s how we kill two emus with one grenade – we suspend members of the crowd from lengths of rope at various heights throughout the auditorium. Like schoolyard conkers, the harnessed gig-goers can dangle safely, fifty feet up, free from all human contact – with the added bonus of having a wonderful view of the stage and the bliss of dancing without that damned floor getting in the way.
If you’re apprehensive I can understand, but honestly I’ve thought of all the angles here: if any attendee needed a toilet break or a drink refill or medical attention, they’d need only to shriek to the winch-operator in order to be cranked gracefully back to earth.
So – if you’re a struggling band right now, you’ve no longer got any excuse to put off playing live. Get out there and spread your music! Go forth! Go! Bring cheer to the weary masses, and herald a brighter dawn tomorrow!!!!
Right that’s it I’m all out of ideas. Bye?