Tammy Sams doesn’t go to a beach or a theme park or take any “typical” vacations.
Instead, the Marietta music fan and her 30-year-old son, Dak Mallery attend concerts.
They stay in Atlanta for many, but traveling is always part of the routine, whether it was Los Angeles for the Chris Cornell tribute concert or the Foo Fighters “Sonic Highways” tour of the South.
She and Mallery already planned to attend Pearl Jam later this month in Nashville and the Rolling Stones at the city’s Nissan Stadium in May (even though the Stones were playing Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Sams prefers her stadium concerts sans roof).
Both artists have shelved their tours because of nationwide bans on gatherings of more than a few dozen people to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Then there were Sams’ tickets to the Graham Nash concert last week at the Variety Playhouse (the venue, like all in Atlanta, is closed) and Styx with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in April (now moved to June).
“I know, big deal. If we’re all healthy, that’s the important thing, right?” Sams, 50, said. “But music is an escape, a wonderful thing in a sucky world. Most people have the TV on as soon as they get home, but I’ll go in and find some vinyl to start spinning.”
Tempering disappointment with reality is already tiresome as fans look at a live music calendar decimated for weeks, possibly months.
Some, such as 23-year-old Alyssa Fort maintain a glimmer of possibility that long-awaited concerts will still take place.
The University of North Florida communications and multimedia journalism major has family in Atlanta and, as a lifelong OutKast fan, has avidly awaited the April 19 Kryptonite Festival spearheaded by the group’s Big Boi.
As of March 20, the concert hadn’t been shelved (Live Nation and Ticketmaster both have localized event status pages via their respective home sites). But, while Fort said she will “definitely be there” if the show takes place, she’s content to wait for a reschedule.
“As soon as I graduate (this semester), I’m moving to Atlanta, so the chances of me being in town for whatever date it’s moved to are high. I’ve been speaking with other people who say, ‘Why are we canceling things?’ But I’m a communications major and I understand as a business, it’s better to be safe and cancel everything.”
Reshuffled shows are an inconvenience for fans. But for promoters and band managers, this global pandemic has caused unprecedented scheduling chaos.
“I’ve had everything thrown at us for over 45 years, but nothing like this,” said Charlie Brusco, president of Red Light Management Atlanta. “In (industry) discussions, everyone is going, ‘9/11 was one thing, but this is a totally different thing.’ After 9/11, music gatherings were how we got through things together. Everybody uniting under music and songs. But if the best thing for safety is to stay away, we have to make things work.”
Among the artists on Brusco’s roster are Styx, Collective Soul and Poison, who are primed to embark on a sold-out summer stadium tour with Motley Crue, Def Leppard and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.
That outing – which added early summer dates to meet demand – kicks off June 18 in Jacksonville, Florida, and has an Aug. 9 show slated for Truist Park.
While most concerts inked for April and many in May have already announced pushbacks until fall, June concerts haven’t been affected – yet.
“About 80 percent of these (Motley Crue) dates are in baseball stadiums. The issue with that tour is going to revolve around MLB,” Brusco said. “I don’t believe if MLB isn’t back in those stadiums that they’re going to let other events happen in those stadiums…and also, there’s only so many places that you can play.”
Along with shoehorning major concerts into slots not being used by the NBA, MLB, MLS and, sooner than we can even allow ourselves to think right now, the NFL, comes the puzzle board of rescheduling.
The Atlanta Styx show is a special production with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, earmarked for the ASO’s 75th anniversary year. Moving the concert meant coordinating the band’s schedule (they’re notorious summer road warriors), the symphony (which is dealing with its own glut of shuffled performances) and the venue (which offers a robust lineup this year with shows including Kesha, Alanis Morissette, Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart).
Father’s Day – June 21 – was the only availability that ticked every box. But it’s also the date that Collective Soul – one of Brusco’s other clients – will play Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park with Tonic and Better Than Ezra.
All he can do now is laugh and figure out how to be in two places on the same night.
While the live music industry experienced an overwhelming and unprecedented rush of cancellations and postponements last week, the rare announcement of a new tour or ticket on-sale evoked a blip of optimism.
The Collective Soul tour and The Killers (Sept. 18 at State Farm Arena) were plucky outliers, and Collective Soul frontman Ed Roland breathed a sigh of relief that a tour notice was being viewed as encouraging.
“I look at tickets going on sale as a positive thing, that we’re gonna get through this and summer is around the corner,” he said.
Last week, Roland packed up some recording gear and headed to Sarasota, Florida, with bandmate Jesse Triplett and engineer-producer Shawn Grove (the rest of Collective Soul is spread around the country) to use his canceled-tour-dates/social-distancing time to demo some new song ideas for the band.
He’s a little rattled by the current instability affecting every industry, but remains hopeful.
“I believe in the human and American spirit. It’s a good little shakeup. I think we needed that as a society,” Roland said. “My heart goes out to anybody who has the virus or been afflicted in any form or fashion, but sometimes (stuff) just has to happen to us to remember who we are – and we are caring human beings.”
Brusco is also remaining steadfast.
“I think this is the toughest time the entertainment industry has ever experienced,” he said. “But we’ll get through it.”
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