By Natalie St. Denis
COVID-19 has taken what feels like everything from us. Among that long list is concerts. Concerts are a favorite pastime for the modern hipsters of the 21st century. These hipsters are the main reason independent music venues survive.
The pandemic has threatened music venues and their ability to generate a steady income. Venues all around the world had to reinvent their platforms to fit within the limitations of the pandemic. Even locally, these efforts can be seen. The Strand Center in downtown Plattsburgh was forced to host events virtually.
A “Strand-Ed At Home” livestream concert was hosted on Facebook where viewers could donate to the venue. A form can be found on The Strand Center’s website where community members can request concerts for streaming. Although many music venues attempted to adapt with the cards they were dealt, it just wasn’t the same.
#SaveOurStages quickly became a trending movement for struggling independent music venues, desperate for government funding to keep them alive. The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) is a group of over 3,000 independent venues joined together under this hashtag to target legislators. The website for this movement expressed the dire need for government assistance by emphasizing: “We were the first to close. We will be the last to open.”
Modern day hipsters have been in desperate need of a concert to attend. They crave the feeling of standing in a crowded room with a bunch of strangers with one thing in common: a love for music.
Virtual concerts try to mock this feeling of excitement. While efforts have been made, it just isn’t the same.
Destiny Arroyo, a freshman psychology major, attended two BTS virtual concerts, one around April 2020 and the other at the end of Nov. 2020. She missed the excitement that comes with an in-person show.
“The online concert was more just supporting the artist. I don’t really think I had fun like I would have had if I was actually at the venue making new friends,” Arroyo said.
But there are benefits as well. There’s no sifting through a closet, trying on every outfit possible to try and get that perfect “concert fit.” There’s no need to plan to arrive at the venue an hour early to score that front row spot because of the possible height differences in the crowd.
“I wasn’t scared, because I usually get scared in crowds,” Arroyo said.
She explained that she didn’t have to worry about lines or crowds of people.
Of course, supporting the artist and venue that hosts the virtual show ultimately matters the most. They need patrons to keep them afloat during these trying times.
It’s interesting to see how creative each artist gets with their performance. Some, like the Los Angeles-based band Wallows, rent out a venue to perform as if they were in front of a crowd. Other artists just charge $20 to watch a glorified music video, like The Neighbourhood, which was disappointing for devoted fans.
Regardless of what the artist chooses, one thing is for certain; not even a pandemic can stop the hipsters from getting their concert on. As weird as it sounds, music does bring people together, even from behind a screen.
Email Natalie St. Denis at firstname.lastname@example.org