By Michael Str!ke
In two-hundred days I've played one show.
At the beginning of this year if someone had told me I was going to play just one show over the span of almost seven months I would've laughed them out of the room, and then put on a show in it. I had eight tours and over 100 separate shows routed and nearly booked at the start of 2020. Then in mid-March predicted nightmares had become reality, and I made the decision to cancel them all as the entire entertainment industry ground to a halt. An industry already prone to struggle and necessary vigilance took the first and most lasting hit from this global pandemic.
My story isn't unique, nor is it typical. I'm not here to judge on what the 'right way' is going forward during this time. I've canceled playing shows until the foreseeable future, and I won't condemn the artists and entertainers that haven't made that choice. I'm just here to share my small experience, and how I've seen things change from the 'normal' that we may never get back.
We've lost venues. We've lost artists. We've lost motivation, and some of us have lost our very livelihoods to this unknown future. Some bands have stayed the course; playing shows that some would consider smartly run, to others just playing out as if nothing has really changed. But change is an absolute these days; from the sweaty over packed basements of noise shows to the hallowed halls of theaters in our largest cities-- artists sit and wait out of work.
I've been lucky to be a part of a few live stream concert series that have at least been a suture for this deep wound of ours. I've read the joy of fans and fellow artists exclaimed in chat windows while being able to tune in and tune up their beloved artists that no longer blaze through their towns and cities. That human connection is still possible, if a little lacking, through that necessary beast we call the internet.
Yet, some still press on as if nothing was different. Here in North Dakota and a lot of places in the midwest, there are still plenty of people that continue as they have before. Bands travel through to play shows. Cover bands and other acts have come through where I work security, and I've seen almost-crowds reveling in that pulse that is live music. And I can't judge. I have my opinions on how I think things should've been handled, but I think it's time more of us say that we just don't really know the best way of going forward.
Music is special. LIVE music is special. Live performances of all kinds are special. It connects us more than almost any other aspect of our society. It connects us to ourselves, to each other, to that moment we so desperately try to live in, and I can't wait until we can feel safe to unabashedly make that connection again
[Editor's note: Michael Str!ke is a Fargo based musician, playing in bands such as Michael Str!ke and the God Damn Band, Mr. Meaner, and Pour Choices.]
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