It is not a secret that 2020 has been harsh for humanity. Amidst the overwhelming amount of disasters hitting different parts of the world, people are gradually getting used to (some places more than others) living with the thread of COVID-19 hanging around every corner.
The virus has definitely reshaped the world and sent a major warning towards humanity, but this is a vast topic for some other time (seriously, there is much to say about the devastating and unequal impact different parts of the world are experiencing). What I want to discuss in this blog post is another sector drastically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – the music industry and particularly live shows.
Talking about how much the music industry got affected by the virus seems incredibly dumb and irrelevant considering the disasters that keep happening one after another. However, the industry is indeed facing a huge challenge. Since this is a music-related blog, I am allowing myself the liberty to discuss it.
The festival season got completely cancelled and world tours of prominent artists had to be scrapped since concerts are practically impossible at the moment. Unfortunately, this is the main source of income for many artists and that is not all there is to it. There are many more people involved in a live show than just the artist – stage production crews, touring staff, and booking agents are completely out of business and the majority of music venues are on the brink of collapse.
The good part of this, if there is any good part, is the creativity and hard work put in by both artists and clubs/venues to counter the phenomenon. Real-life concerts might be impossible, but the music industry has taken the challenge head-on by implementing digital concerts and even festivals.
Once again proving why he is the most important artist for this generation
Many artists hosted livestreams performing for fans or getting even more creative. YUNGBLUD established his own show (3 episodes) consisting of live music, skits, and relevant discussions with interesting guests while Mike Shinoda took on Twitch as a platform to interact with his fanbase and let them take part of the making of 2 new (mostly instrumental) EPs titled Dropped Frames.
Some festivals also resorted to the digital world as a method of keeping fans happy. One of the biggest EDM events in the world – Tomorrowland used clever interpretations, including projecting performances on screens set at the original stages to keep the party spirit alive during the pandemic. Pol’and’Rock (Poland) was also digitally broadcasted live from the location and Roskilde Festival (Denmark) encouraged people to create a Do-It-Yourself version of the festival with small personal gatherings and live broadcasts from some of the artists.
Read a detailed report of how Tomorrowland 2020 handled the situation
Live music is the strongest medium to express this form of art and I am sure all of us are aware of how important it is to keep it going. The cancelling of shows and festivals is temporary and hopefully, the world will manage to take control of the pandemic allowing 2021 to give us an opportunity to release the pent up energy we have been collecting this year.
Until this happens, it is our responsibility to show our support and help as much as we can. There are various campaigns supporting venues around the world with online concerts and livestreams still happening here and there.
The UK has achieved considerable results with the #saveourvenues campaign which you can still support here. Another way to encourage artists is by buying merch and streaming their music excessively – without concerts, this is the best way to support their work. And having merch is always cool so why the hell not?
Speaking of supporting causes – we all know Beirut is in big need for support. Here are some ways to help.
I personally had grand plans for the 2020 summer including several concerts and possibly some festivals (joke’s on me). Currently trying to shift the excitement I had towards 2021 I am often remembering my friend’s on-point words: It would be wise not to make big plans for next year as we have no idea how things will develop. Having those big expectations is the main reason for the disappointment.
I see tones of memes circulating around the internet about skipping the rest of 2020 and starting fresh with 2021. But who promised that 2021 will be better and all the build-up problems will disappear just because we are entering a new year? The wisest thing we could do is start facing those problems and trying to find solutions instead of being agitated that we have to follow a different lifestyle and comply with relevant safety measures. I hope we learn that it is all up to us soon and until taking matters in our own hands, we cannot hope to achieve much.
Truth be told the idea of this post was completely different, but I felt those things need to be said anyway. So, getting back to my original intention – while it is uncertain when exactly concerts and festivals will be back to normal, I wanted to discuss my biggest and bravest hopes for 2021 live music events.
There has been a lot going on in the music scene – the cancellation of touring allowed many artists to focus on making new music which gives us the prerequisite for a fantastic series of live events when this madness is all over.
Without further ado, here is my list of concerts I am most eager about these days – some based on upcoming or recent releases and others on pure hype for the artist.
One artist I recently decided to properly get familiar with and blew me away is Stormzy. The grime underdog started from the underground scene and quickly made his way to the top with his confident persona, witty lyricism, and catchy delivery.
What is even more impressive is his will to progress and explore new territories which is proved by his recent releases as well as the latest record Heavy Is The Head. The album has a good amount of artist features including the likes of Ed Sheeran, who the artist collaborated with on several occasions, H.E.R, and Aitch (a fellow UK rap icon) amongst others.
Stormzy is a very specific artist and I cannot guarantee he is everyone’s cup of tea but I am sure there are tracks which will please every taste. I got attracted to his confidence and ruthless verses combining personal issues, political views, and feuds in the rap scene which he delivers with stunning precision. His vibe and energy are hard to match and after watching several videos of live performances I felt the urge to experience it myself.
Another artist that has been growing on me more and more since I gave her a proper chance is Tove Lo. Her seductive tracks are a total mood and, I am guessing, an absolute delight to dive into during a live show.
I have occasionally played Tove Lo’s song without paying much attention and I always enjoyed it (yeah, we have all been obsessed with Habits, not need to pretend). However, since listening to Blue Lips in full, I got on a streak of getting familiar with the artist’s work and I kept nodding my head in approval between dancing breaks.
The progress of her art is evident and there is an undeniable appeal in her whole artistic persona. The unapologetic and completely unleashed sexiness, provocative nature, and open taboo-defying lyricism will enchant most of the people who give her a chance. After the release of her latest singles (especially the dangerously catchy Bikini Porn) I was convinced I need to see her perform live and I was ready to do it but her EU tour this fall got cancelled. Now I am back to waiting for a chance.
No, I am not joking at all. The Estonian Professional Rap Superstar has only kept growing on me since that fateful accidental concert I attended. His charisma and bizarre, borderline idiotic, artistic expression is actually incredibly entertaining and once you get enchanted you keep wanting more and more because it is never enough.
He certainly pushes the limits of art and manages to keep coming with unique concepts and stage performances which can be truly enjoyable if you are in the right mindset (or heavily drugged). I was quickly convinced in his strange but well-working abilities to put on a show when I gave it a chance despite my initial scepticism. Ever since that, I have been aching to get another taste.
I was planning to attend a festival Tommy is headlining but, as you might guess, the idea got scrapped. Seriously, if you ever have a chance to experience that give it a shot, you might be surprised by the outcome.
Hayley Williams recently released her long-anticipated solo debut Petals For Armor where she unveiled a captivating story of pain, growth, and self-love. Having the chance to explore new influences and styles proved liberating for the artist and the result exceeded the high expectations which formed after its announcement.
Petals For Armor takes one of the top spots in my “best albums of 2020” chart, the incredibly emotional and sensual tracks definitely hit hard and I can only imagine the feeling of witnessing Hayley deliver them live. The tour which was supposed to promote the album was on my checklist but unfortunately it got cancelled with no information of whether or not we will get a reschedule.
Machine Gun Kelly
Machine Gun Kelly has been on fire ever since the release of his latest record Hotel Diablo but recently he gained even more steam. His quarantine covers absolutely dominated the Internet with creative twists and interpretations. Furthermore, his latest work revived pop-punk in its classical irresistible form and proved that the artist is proficient not only in hip-hop but any other genre he decides to conquer.
We finally have a date for the new album (produced by Travis Barker himself) – Tickets To My Downfall will be out on September 25th. Apart from the excitement for hearing the MGK pop-punk album, there is also the lingering hope of a 2021 tour supporting the release.
I saw The Gunner on his Hotel Diablo world tour and I was literally blown away (and so was the entire venue which almost crumbled under the heavy beats and untamable energy). I can confidently say this is one of the artists putting up the best live shows – his energy, interaction with the crowd, and the ability to display both haunting vulnerability and badass confidence are one of a kind.
Ever since that show, I have sworn to see the artist again in every single possibility I get. I hope 2021 will provide one.
I really miss the incredible atmosphere and emotion of live music – screaming lyrics together with the artist until I can no longer talk and jumping energetically together with hundredths of fellow music lovers.
Having any hopes for the return of concerts, especially in the way we knew them before (probably, restrictions for the capacity of venues will remain long after the virus has calmed down), is a dangerous thing. There is no way to know when cancelled and rescheduled tours will actually take place. The only certain thing is that when it happens, there will be an explosion of events and out-of-this-world energy at the shows.
I can’t wait to experience it.
You can buy me a coffee if you like my content