On Monday night, an actual live concert took place at an actual theater in Arkansas. Since its announcement earlier this month, the performance by Travis McCready (Bishop Gunn) with Lauren Brown at Fort Smith’s TempleLive has garnered national media attention as the first indoor concert to take place before a live audience since the COVID-19 event shutdown began. The concert was initially scheduled for May 15th, but TempleLive was hit with a cease and desist order by the Arkansas Department of Health as the state’s reopening plan for indoor venues didn’t officially go into effect until May 18th. The venue and McCready quickly adapted by pushing the performance to Monday night—the very first day it was legally permitted.
The show was made possible due to a number of updates made by the venue to ensure that it adhered to social distancing protocols. First of all, the capacity of the venue was reduced by 80%, from 1,100 to just 229. Even with just 229 people in the theater, seating assignments were strictly enforced, as only specific, separated “pods” of seats were made available to would-be concert-goers. Furthermore, the pods were only being sold as a set, and the theater advised that only people with whom you feel safe quarantining should fill your pod with you. Take a look at the seating chart from the show’s ticketing page below:
[Screengrab via Ticketmaster]
Furthermore, the Arkansas concert venue was sanitized prior to the event, and all attendees had their temperature screened prior to entry and were required to wear protective masks while inside. See below for a full list of changes TempleLive made in order to make its socially-distanced concert happen:
-Capacity reduced by 80% from 1,100 to 229.
-Venue sanitized prior to each event via fog sprayers.
-Masks available for purchase if desired.
-Per CDC guidelines, one-way walk-ways in theater managed by TempleLive employees.
-6-feet of separation from all seating groups or fan pods.
-10 person limit in all restrooms.
-All soap and paper towel dispensers are no-touch.
-Closure of bathroom fixtures to maintain 6-feet of distance during use.
-Temperatures of attendees to be taken at entry points.
-All beverages prepackaged or have lids.
-TempleLive employees actively wipe down touchpoints in venue and restrooms.
As TempleLive’s Mike Brown noted in a TV interview when the show was announced, “This isn’t gonna be a thing to make money with, but it’s a step back towards normalcy and best practices that we can institute…The financial side is not something that we were really concerned with. We wanted to give something back to the community.” He must have been sincere about this not being a financial move—each ticket was sold for just $20 plus fees (provided you buy every ticket in that “pod”). You can’t buy national press, however, and TempleLive surely got enough media attention with this show to merit its costs. Even beyond the public exposure, TempleLive sold pay-per-view webcasts of the show via Goldstar, theoretically allowing them to recoup some of the funds forfeited due to the show’s reduced capacity.
Socially distant concerts like this are among the many different ways in which artists, promoters, and venues are attempting to host live performances for fans amid the ongoing global health crisis, from drive-in concerts to “virtual tours.” It will be interesting to see how this novel “socially distant” indoor concert idea grows and expands as we move forward.
You can scroll through some photos from the socially distant Travis McCready show with Lauren Brown below via Getty Images:
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Live music has a new twist: temperature checks, lots of space between fans and masks, of course! Travis McCready of the band @bishopgunnmusic and Lauren Brown performed at the first ever socially-distanced concert in Arkansas tonight. ⠀ _⠀ In this gallery, Travis McCready, Jody Stallone, and Robbie Helton perform on stage, Lauren Brown performs onstage and concertgoers wait in a socially-distanced line to receive temperature checks at TempleLive in Fort Smith, Arkansas. | May 18, 2020 | 📸: @KevinMazur | #GettyEntertainment #CapturingThePresent⠀ _⠀ Click the link in our bio for more!