Frank Schieber of Woodstock is one of those fans who is balancing his desire to experience live music with the inherent risks.
An avid concertgoer in pre-pandemic life, Schieber, who is fully vaccinated, is comfortable attending an outdoor show — and is adamant about wearing a mask when not seated — but apprehensive about experiencing music in an enclosed setting.
“Arena shows are a no-go for me until next year,” he said.
But Schieber is holding tickets to the Motley Crue/Def Leppard/Poison/Joan Jett concert scheduled for Truist Park Aug. 15 — one of many concerts yet to be officially confirmed as actually happening this year — and would be reasonably comfortable outside.
“I’d bring my mask with me and once I was seated, I’d feel OK. I would probably gauge the lay of the land,” he said. “The people I’m going with are vaccinated, but if it turns out I’m surrounded by mouth-breathers, the mask is going on at my seat.”
Aaron Payne of Vinings is still hanging on to his tickets for postponed shows by The Rolling Stones (no new date yet) and Barenaked Ladies with Toad the Wet Sprocket and Gin Blossoms (moved to 2022) and is pondering attending the Dave Matthews Band show July 27 at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre.
Also fully vaccinated so he could attend concerts and travel outside of the country, Payne wants to support area venues and is willing to comply with any safety conditions, although he’s an advocate for smaller capacity crowds for the rest of 2021.
“I think half-capacity is a good middle ground for everybody. I think it’s important to start getting music venues opened up, and I think if they said, we’ll flat-out open, come one, come all, the shows would probably sell out,” Payne said. “But what’s the backlash for that? COVID is dangerous. It’s killed a lot of people. It’s not a fake virus, and it’s something to take seriously. It’s not gone yet, and if you get it at a show, then you’re taking the risk to enter.”
James Taylor will visit Atlanta with Jackson Browne Aug. 17. Courtesy of Norman Seefe
Both Payne and Schieber would welcome a requirement to show proof of vaccination or a separate vaccinated section, but no metro Atlanta venues — with the exception of City Winery, which asks for a vaccination card — have established either so far.
Many venues are, however, touting contactless ticketing and concession payments, enhanced cleaning and social distancing requirements in common areas.
The Fox Theatre has its Broadway season slated to begin in late August. Courtesy of Michael West
Credit: Michael West
Credit: Michael West
Infinite Energy Arena, as well as the Fox Theatre, has been certified by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council STAR, which means it employs stringent protocols for cleaning and disinfection. Additionally, Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation systems have been installed in the buildings for heating and air ventilation.
The Fox will embrace the return of entertainment fans this summer, first with a reduced-capacity concert (details coming soon) in late July, followed by the Broadway in Atlanta series opener of “Hamilton” on Aug. 24. The month-long engagement will be ticketed to capacity at the 4,600-capacity venue.
Allan C. Vella, CEO and president of the Fox Theatre, said the preparation for audiences and live events, especially “Hamilton” as the first full event, “has been a real labor of love for the entire staff.”
Masks at the Fox will be determined on a show-by-show basis, but the current policy for Broadway in Atlanta shows, such as “Hamilton,” is a requirement that “masks are to be worn by everyone at all times in the venue.”
Miguel Cervantes and the cast of "Hamilton" take a curtain call after the final production of the show in Chicago on Jan. 5, 2020, at the CIBC Theatre. Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Live Nation’s area amphitheaters — Ameris Bank in Alpharetta, Cellairis at Lakewood and Cadence Bank at Chastain Park — carry advisements for fans to wear masks when entering and exiting the building, ordering food, or leaving seats. As well, the venue staffs will wear masks and signage will denote physical distancing.
Considering the uncharted territory that the live entertainment industry has been forced to navigate the past 14 months, a continued inching — not stampeding —toward normalcy is to be expected.
“I do think we’re stepping out of that dark place,” said Hall. “But we have more steps to make.”
A SAMPLING OF
Infinite Energy Arena
May 21 and June 12: Banda MS
Aug. 17: James Taylor and Jackson Browne
Oct. 10: MercyMe
Dec. 2: Evanescence with Halestorm
Aug. 15: Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Poison, Joan Jett
Ameris Bank Amphitheatre
July 27: Dave Matthews Band
Aug. 24-Sept. 26: “Hamilton”