Here’s What the First Socially Distant Concert in America Looked Like

Travis McCready's show in Arkansas on Monday provided a preview of what could be the new normal


America’s first socially distant, coronavirus-era concert took place in Arkansas on Monday, and it served as a preview of what the new normal could look like for live music fans.

Health experts have predicted that shows wouldn’t able to return until Fall 2021 “at the earliest.” But that didn’t stop Bishop Gunn singer/guitarist Travis McCready from being the first artist to experiment with the format last night at TempleLive in Fort Smith, a city located right on the border of Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Due to the pandemic, heavy restrictions were in place all throughout the venue. The allowed capacity was cut down from 1,000 people to just 200, and all attendees were kept six feet apart whether by official tape or by specific grouped seating. Additionally, concertgoers had their temperatures taken upon arrival and were required to wear masks at all times.

The health guidelines also extended to the site’s bathrooms, which were limited to just 10 people at one time. Concession stands were also only able to sell beverages that were already pre-packaged or “have lids.”

As seen in the photos and video footage, there were still many that showed up for the McCready concert, despite all the new COVID-19 limitations and the dramatic change in the live music experience. For them, being able to simply witness live music again was enough. “Reserving our right to rock n’ roll,” one attendee wrote on Instagram, while donning a mask and proudly flashing rock horns.

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As previously reported, the McCready show at TempleLive was originally scheduled for May 15th, three days prior to the date (May 18th) the state’s governor said that venues could officially reopen. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) took action by hitting the venue with a cease-and-desist order, forcing the concert’s promoters to reschedule the gig to Monday.

With select states slowly reopening and easing their restrictions, it’s only a matter of time before more socially distant shows like this one take place. In the meantime, musicians have also been trying their hand at drive-in concerts, borrowing a page from event bookers in Europe. Country music star Keith Urban recently held one in Nashville for first responders and soon Florida will hold the first-ever drive-in music festival.


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