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Students React to the Cancellations of Popular Festivals

Lineup set for local music festival.

As of Apr. ninth COVID-19’s death toll reaches 89,000 worldwide, and music fans
and concert goers are understanding of preemptive cancelations and safety measures,
but are confused about the future of their investments.

“It makes sense, it just really sucks,” said a junior Nursing major, Emily Vick when
discussing the cancellation of several concerts and festivals she was supposed to
attend this Summer in the Nashville area. The same story can be heard from millions of
others who had plans anytime from now until late June. In order to reduce the spread of
the virus, the CDC has recommended that gatherings of 50 or more people be

Students like Vick saved their hard earned cash to buy tickets for music festivals
in hope that they would be the experience of their Summer. Festivals like Bonaroo in
Manchester, TN, Buku Fest in New Orleans, and Hangout Fest were all postponed or
canceled (Hangout has been canceled but may end up being rescheduled). Local
concerts were also postponed or canceled. Acts like Jason Isbell, Buddy Guy and his
band, and the Allman Betts Band have all rescheduled their performances until later in
the year. Some, like Justin Hayward, who was scheduled to play at the Saenger Theatre
on Apr. 15, had their shows just flat out canceled. While rescheduling is the best option
for getting concert goers their money’s worth, it doesn’t come without it’s own problems.

Most people today have very busy lives and if they want to do something like
attend a concert they have to plan it into their schedule. The rescheduling of these
events puts many people at a disadvantage as far as whether or not they will be able to
attend the new date. For example, one of the festivals that Vick was planning on attending in June was Bonaroo. Now with the festival planned for Labor Day weekend,Vick is not so sure she’ll be able to attend. As an incoming senior nursing student, she will be extremely busy around the clock, and attending a weekend festival all the way back in her home state of Tennessee may not be possible. “I might have to just sell the tickets or something,” said Vick. As a nursing student, she knows the dangers of COVID-19 but still expressed sadness that she might not be able to see her favorite band, The 1975, perform.

Mourning the loss of a concert or music festival may seem a bit shallow at a time
when people are dying every day from complications created by COVID-19, but
concerts being canceled causes grief in people’s lives in more ways than one might
expect. For the artists involved, particularly artists who bring in most of their income
from touring and the sales of merchandise, this crisis is hitting hard. One local folk artist,
Abe Partridge, has had a whole tour’s worth of shows canceled on him. He was
planning on playing at the Opelika Songwriters Festival scheduled for Mar. 27-29,
leaving for shows from Mississippi to Georgia, and then meeting up with a fellow singer-
songwriter, David Childers, in North Carolina to open up shows for him all the way to
Cleveland, Ohio. “It was basically just a massive tour I had scheduled, and now I’m
losing dates all the way into May,” said Partridge. All of those shows were canceled with
the CDC order and since then Partridge and other artists like him have been trying to
pick up the pieces as best they can.

Rescheduling these dates seems to be as difficult for the artists involved as it is
for the fans. “The problem is that most of the stuff that’s getting rescheduled is just
getting rescheduled over dates that I already have booked,” said Partridge. In addition to being a songwriter, Partridge is also a painter and folk artist. He had been scheduled to showcase his art at one of the biggest folk art festivals in the country. He has “been trying to get in” to the festival “for years” and with it being rescheduled to Labor Day, the same day as another festival he has booked in Northern Alabama, he won’t be able to do it.

Like Vick, Partridge understands the need for the COVID-19 precautions, saying
“ I wouldn’t be excited to be crammed in a small venue with a 100 people right now
myself,” however, the fact remains that the virus has harmed him financially. “The last
thing we had was playing shows man,” said Partridge when speaking about the
difficulties of turning a profit as an musician. Partridge is looking one step ahead though,
and has created an art subscription service on his website for loyal fans who want to
support him in these times. He started the Alabama Astronaut Art Club, where for
$29.99 a month, he sends subscribers a one of a kind signed and numbered art print.

Partridge also spoke about his fears for the future of music festivals, saying that
“after this music festivals might not be something people want to line up for.” With Buku
in New Orleans set for Labor Day weekend, and Hangout Fest possibly being
rescheduled, the world will certainly see if large gatherings are safe after this period of
quarantine. In all situations, the theme seemed to be uncertainty. However, Partridge
was certain about one thing: “there was a pre-virus world, and there will be a post-virus
world, and those of us who figure out a way to adapt in the post virus world will thrive
and those of us who don’t will not.”

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