Dead & Company Requiring Vaccination or Negative Test for Concerts

Dead & Company at Folsom Field on July 14, 2019.
Dead & Company at Folsom Field on July 14, 2019. Miles Chrisinger
Grateful Dead legacy band Dead & Company, scheduled to play Greenwood Village's Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre on October 22 and 23, is one of the biggest acts yet to announce that it will be requiring proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test within the previous 48 hours in order to get into a concert.

The exception: concerts in states that have bucked the recommendations of the majority of epidemiologists and banned private businesses from making such mandates. Colorado allows businesses to set their own safety policies.

Dead & Company's efforts to keep its fans alive and slow the spread of COVID-19 don't stop with proof of vaccination or a negative test. All fans who have bought general admission pit tickets will have to be vaccinated in order to enter the pit; a negative test will not be enough, and the unvaccinated, including children under twelve, will be moved to an alternate area outside the pit. Children will be welcome to attend the concert if they've had a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of the show.

Hoping for an exception? You're out of luck. The band says that it is committed to protecting the safety of its members, crew and audience, and refuses to bend on these policies.
click to enlarge Dead & Company fans. - MILES CHRISINGER
Dead & Company fans.
Miles Chrisinger
Longtime Deadheads are dishing out mixed responses to the policy on social media. Some, who claim to have been fans since the late ’60s, have sworn off the Dead, accusing the group of succumbing to tyranny. (What tyranny they're referring to is unclear, considering that the vast majority of politicians are instituting fewer rules than the Dead.) Other fans say they're switching their jam-band family to Phish, which is not currently requiring proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests for its massive concerts.

Yet many other music lovers, who say they were afraid of going to concerts that don't require proof of vaccination, are celebrating the decision and trying to score tickets from disgruntled fans.

Ticketmaster is offering fan support for those navigating the new regulations.
click to enlarge Want to go to a Dead show? Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test will be required. - MILES CHRISINGER
Want to go to a Dead show? Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test will be required.
Miles Chrisinger
The Dead & Company decision comes on the heels of Americana singer Jason Isbell and country legend Lucinda Williams announcing that they will refuse to play any venue on their tour that does not require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

They, too, have been batting away detractors on social media.

"There is no debate," Williams wrote on Twitter. "We simply can’t risk the health of fans, band and crew and we can’t be complicit in playing unsafe shows that contribute to the disastrous situations that are occurring at hospitals everywhere. If we as artists must lead then we will. No safety no show."

Venue owners, just coming out of an economically devastating year of shutdowns, are struggling to figure out how to keep up with artists' demands for vaccination or testing proof — demands that require additional staffing and come with escalated safety concerns for security. Many were already wrangling with whether to require masking.

The position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is clear: Masking and vaccinations, for those who can safely have them, are the best way to curb the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Unlike Democratic and Republican officials who've avoided making politically risky decisions that could save lives but cost votes, Dead & Company is taking a stand in favor of science...and keeping Deadheads alive.
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris