Explore Issue 01 of LOOP Magazine

Featuring Sam Tompkins and Victor Ray as our cover stars, as well as internal spreads from Girli, Jords, Mysie, Finn Askew, Kara Marni and Master Peace

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Getting Back Out There: Readjusting To Gigs In The Post-Pandemic World

For fans across the country, the return of live music brought excitement and hope. After eighteen months of endless red tape and hoop-jumping antics, the live events industry has been able to get itself back onto its feet, welcoming fans into venues with open, beer-filled arms. For many, this couldn’t come soon enough. But for others, the anticipation and concern around the safety of these events remain front and centre. Even for some former seasoned, gig-goers, it has proven a challenge to leave the worries of the last eighteen months at the gates.

In a study conducted by the Music Venue Trust in June, only 36% of the British public felt wholly confident in returning to live events. The Audience Confidence Survey set to ascertain public feelings about returning to live venues and. Its findings indicated that there was still great uncertainty amongst gig-goers, but this hasn’t stopped everyone from jumping back in.

Alex Fisher, a PR Executive from Manchester recently attended Tramlines. Prior to the pandemic, she was a frequent festival attendee but contracted COVID whilst at the event in July. She understands people’s concerns about returning to the crowd:

“Beforehand, I was really nervous. I couldn’t imagine being in a big crowd as it just felt so unfamiliar. But as soon as I got there, I didn’t feel anxious at all. I tried to stay around the middle section of the crowd where it wasn’t too crowded, and I surprised myself by how normal it all felt.”

“The two of us that tested positive were the only two out of our group of six that had one of the two vaccines – the others are double jabbed! Shows that it works, hey!”

News of the vaccine rollout brought hope for many, and the continued investment in safety precautions taken by venues only solidified this confidence. The subject of vaccines and immunisation passports, however, remains debated within parliament. Yet some would feel more comfortable re-integrating into society if these were to be introduced.

“Being immunocompromised, vaccination passports would give me more confidence in going out again,” Ellie, 19, tells me. “Seeing my friends going to clubs and festivals again is hard, as I don’t feel safe enough right now with them.”

The government announced last month that from the autumn, club-goers would soon have to prove their vaccination status to be allowed entry. For Ellie, this news couldn’t come soon enough.

“I’m sick of being told that ‘If you’re scared to come out, don’t come out.’ We’ve all been through a really rubbish year, and it’s not someone else’s position to tell me what I can and cannot feel. Passports would give me the confidence in knowing that even if someone is out with Covid, then hopefully, those around them would experience milder symptoms. It would make it safer for everyone and give me the confidence I need to start getting back on track.”

Others have thrown themselves back into the live music scene. Venues across the country have invested great deals of time, energy, and money into ensuring that they are as safe and covid-compliant as possible. For Dani, she was back at a gig as soon as she possibly could be, attending one of the limited capacity events that took place in early June.

“I hadn’t been to a gig since early 2020 and craved live music during the various lockdowns. I missed out on so many gigs [throughout the last eighteen months] and it [music and going to gigs] was my outlet pre-pandemic. At the gig in Liverpool, I felt quite safe because everyone was wearing their masks whenever leaving their seats, and it was all table service.”

“I wouldn’t say that I felt apprehensive prior to going. The venue had put a lot of measures in place to ensure safety, so I was actually quite confident about going. But had it been a normal gig with hundreds of people and no restrictions, I would have been quite apprehensive.”

Dani has booked in several other events following the positive experience she had back in June but says that it’s her double vaccination status that has made her feel more confident in doing so. “I can understand for those who haven’t had their second dose, why they would be apprehensive about being at a gig with a large capacity. I think as I’ve been double-jabbed, I’m more confident about attending those gigs again.”

Mass-gatherings and large-scaled events remain largely divisive. For many, the worries which surround contracting coronavirus continue to be prevalent in the social decisions that they making. However, the mental toll of the last eighteen months can for some, be too much to handle.

We spoke to Rebecca Lockwood, a Neuro-Linguistics Trainer about some of the advice she has for those worrying about life returning to normal.

“A lot of people will be feeling anxious at the moment, and it’s normal to feel this way. Coming back out of your comfort zone can cause the physical effects of anxiety, so be kind to yourself.”

“Don’t feel the need to rush into seeing people. It has been some time since we have been able to see our friends and family, so this may create this notion of rush into seeing people again. Just because it’s possible, it doesn’t mean you should. You may be really excited to see people, which is brilliant, but not everyone will feel this way.”

“Some people get their energy from being around others, and some people get their energy from being alone. Be aware of where yours comes from to avoid social burnout.”

For now, it is everyone’s responsibility to be as cautious and preventative in their approach as they can be. The live music industry has been dealt a heavy blow throughout the COVID pandemic, but it is far from over yet.

For more advice on staying safe and protecting those around you, visit the NHS website.

Words by Issy Aldridge

Posted On 4 October, 2022