With gigs and festivals off the table for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19 lockdowns, promoters and bands around the world are faced with a curious question: How do you put on a gig when no one can be within two metres of each other?
The obvious and immediate answer, of course, was to live-stream them — and there were plenty of great examples, from Lime Cordiale’s short-and-sweet Junkee gig to Mark Ronson’s epic Love Lockdown set, which saw Mallrat jump on to eat noodles. But live-streaming is just an unfulfilling solution: the sound quality is never great, and, try as they might, artists can never fully replicate the feeling of a live gig.
But now, a new lockdown trend is emerging: the drive-in gig.
Last month in the Denmark town of Aarhus, an ingenious muso called Mads Langer jumped on stage in front of a stack of socially distanced cars to perform. According to Forbes, the sound was transmitted through an FM radio station, which attendees tuned to inside their respective cars.
“At first, it felt extremely awkward,” Langer said. “I realised onstage that I was performing to four people times 500, rather than 2000 people.”
Apparently, the audience applauded by honking their horns and using their windscreen wipers – and Langer would communicate with them via Zoom and a huge screen onstage.
“I would talk to them, what do you do for a living? How are you affected?” Said Langer. “It actually ended up being a really intimate setting even thought it was a big venue.”
While the success of the event is great news, it still leaves gigs in doubt. Most live music venues are significantly over that capacity and couldn’t afford to put on gigs for such few people. Similarly, many countries medical officers have previously flagged that music gigs and festivals would likely be out of the question until a vaccine is found.
Which makes the need for a live music solution all the more pressing — could drive-in gigs be it?