Arguably, a lot of guitar band shows will market themselves towards a demographic that is not in immediate danger. In fact, those 18 to 40-year-old gig-goers are more likely to act as carriers for COVID-19 to and from the gig and affect the vulnerable on public transport. The vulnerable being diabetics, asthmatics, the elderly, all of which may be making essential trips to family or journeys corresponding to a potential lockdown situation.
What will be the aftermath for scenes where some bands ignored the safety messages put out by the government? Will there be divisions within the community based on what people did during the crisis? Will the consciousness of the artists that banded together be altered, and if so, for how long? Perhaps. Dan Gott of Snakerattlers was kind enough to talk about his views on the subject.
So, Dan, how has the virus affected your ability to put on live events?
Dan: It’s had a pretty devastating effect. I can no longer put on live events! The venue I work for in York (The Fulford Arms) has closed indefinitely. The venue decided to do this of its own accord to act responsibly in these bizarre times we find ourselves in. A warm room full of people at close quarters is an ideal transmission ground for a virus.
Have you heard of other venues taking the same stance as the Fulford Arms?
Dan: Yes. Most venues in York have now closed, and I’ve heard of at least 10 others around the country who have now also closed. So far, the reasons are for public safety, which I can totally understand. It’s not the fact that the people at gigs will get it, even though this should be reason enough, it’s the fact that those people can pass it on to someone else who might die from it.
That last bit seems to be the piece of information that venues who stay open are either unaware of or are not acknowledging. How do you feel about promoters who are as of yet still promoting gigs?
Dan: I feel they are acting irresponsibly and they should cancel all of their shows immediately. Some of them might want to carry on for a “sense of normality”, but unfortunately we’re not in normal times at the moment! It’s not just promoters, but bands need to also act responsibly. England hasn’t even seen the worst of it yet – that’s still to come. Committing to social distancing for the short term now will limit the damage caused by the virus in the long run. It’s such a simple concept, and I really don’t understand how certain people seem to think it doesn’t apply to them. It’s a national effort, and everyone should be doing it for the consideration of others.
It’s even more awkward when those promoters are people that you know and consider friends, right?
Dan: It shouldn’t be. This is public safety we’re talking about. A friend of mine who was still planning on putting on a show in early April. I saw his post about the gig and commented on it, saying that I think he should reschedule for the same public safety reasons I mentioned in my answer to question two. After I commented, a whole stream of people came forward saying they thought he should reschedule. So it’s obviously on other people’s minds too. Someone has to speak up, or these gigs will continue to happen, and more folk will get ill. I know it sucks to cancel gigs, but it’s only for the short term! Get a new date from the venue for summertime, as that’s when we’re hopefully going to be past the worst and chances of infection will be lower. Getting a new date booked in, gives folk something to look forward to also.
In some quarters, particularly on some punk scenes, promoters have a gung ho approach to events they’ve yet to cancel. On the verge of placating deniers of the emergency. Do you think they are to blame, or does the responsibility lie with the government?
Dan: I do think the government should be clamping down harder on things like gigs, effectively banning them for a few months. But how can you actually make all gigs stop? Without wasting resources on policing them, you literally can’t, so the responsibility largely relies on the public to make the right choice and think of other people, rather than their own entertainment, or in the case of bands; their own ego. Anyone not taking the pandemic seriously and choosing to ignore guidelines is potentially endangering other people. It’s that simple! Manchester Punk Festival has decided to cancel. That should be a message to punks everywhere, as it’s one of the biggest and best DIY punk festivals around. If they are concerned and have pulled the plug, so should other punk rock promoters/bands.
It’s hard to foresee how this will all pan out. I suspect less self-involved art with more of a focus on community-based expression. Any silver linings for you?
Dan: Some silver linings for me is that I really like the simplicity of it all. I played a lot of gigs last year, close to 100 if you add together totals from all my bands. So I’m quite enjoying just going to my day job, doing exercise and watching stuff on Netflix. How long this enjoyment will go on for is unknown, though! I could be bored with it by next week. Another silver lining is that this is a piece of world history, and we’re living through it! Seeing how this little bug has developed and gone worldwide is really interesting. I have also seen masses of community spirit in York and online. Disasters like this really do bring people together for the greater good. There are going to be some mega parties when things begin to normalise, and a lot of bands I know are using this time to demo new material. So there will likely be some good new music to come out of it too.
Hopefully, these silver linings will have a long-lasting profound effect on our concept of a global community. Thank you for your time Dan.
Dan: I really hope they do. There’s no such thing as failure, only learning.
Indeed. I had a chat with Cara Maclean, a friend of a friend on Facebook (Thank you for putting us in touch Aiden Pryor). I decided to reproduce the online conversation verbatim, given the reveal of her job role in the events industry and what she had to say.
Are you a performer or a musician Cara? Keen to know more from either both perspectives eventually.
Cara: I’m the events manager and promoter at Nambucca.
Great. Have you cancelled any events due to the outbreak, and if not, why?
Cara: We’ve had cancellations right up to July! With people being told to stay at home, there’s no point in opening and putting on a gig with no attendance, and it means losing hundreds of pounds each time and doesn’t help bands either.
We’re thinking about doing live streaming for gigs instead.
Do you feel that there has been an overreaction to the outbreak?
Cara: The media has obviously scared everyone and caused a lot of anxiety, but we all must do what we need to keep the more vulnerable safe.
If you booked a band with many followers and happy to play live, would you feel obligated to cancel the gig? Or would you instead go ahead, given the potential profit?
Cara: I’d be wary of opening and letting a gig go ahead right now. The guidelines say to not go to pubs and clubs. However, we’re not being told to close. I wouldn’t be comfortable, I’d feel we were putting our customers at risk. Sometimes it’s not about the money, we want customers safe and happy first and foremost!
Stay in touch with Snakerattlers: