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Commentary: Spring Has Arrived. Let’s Keep Live Music Alive!

Concerts are back. Let's keep them safe.EXPAND
Concerts are back. Let's keep them safe.
Aaron Thackeray
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Red Rocks is opening, house shows are happening, and underground parties are kicking back into gear. Optimism has returned as the weather’s warmed up and vaccines have gone into arms. We finally have the chance to enjoy music and party together again.

But the opportunities we’re enjoying still come with responsibilities as the virus continues to rage. So let’s do our bit — and also recognize all that the music community has done through the pandemic.

Word spread on social media recently that around twenty people who attended a string of Kitchen Dwellers gigs at the Boulder Theater contracted COVID-19.

“A week after the Kitchen Dwellers shows on March 26, 27, 28 we were alerted that a group of fans that traveled to Colorado for the shows and shared the same seating pod, also shared an AirBnB and subsequently developed COVID. We have no knowledge of the type of COVID," says Boulder Theater Vice President David Weingarden in a statement provided to Westword.

“Working staff was notified and asked to get tested, although they were masked and followed protocols throughout the events. Over two weeks later no staff members tested positive or developed symptoms. The Boulder Theater is 5-Star Certified and all safety protocols are adhered to. Safety is our number one concern.”

The problem: Safety was not the number-one concern of some music fans.

"We went to Boulder Friday and were in the balcony," one attendee reported on Facebook. "Seen folks going to other pods and no one had a mask. We tested negative! But weren't aware until Saturday afternoon about anyone having it."

"The shows were a mess," wrote another Kitchen Dwellers fan. "If you're going to a concert don't jump between tables and don't party in big groups before and after. It's a miracle staff didn't get it and have to shut down the venue for two weeks. Our venues have been through enough. Don't make it harder on them."

There have been no other outbreaks connected to concerts at the Boulder Theater; even though the venue is in a college town where students have made national headlines for bucking COVID restrictions, the staff has stuck to local and state protocols.

It's not easy work — not at the Boulder Theater, and not at other venues that have remained committed to hosting live-music performances when they can, despite all the challenges.

I’ve heard from too many people working the bar, the door and security at Colorado venues that we — the music fans — have been acting terribly. We’ve been breaking the rules. We’ve been spreading the virus because we think our pleasure is more important than everybody else’s health. It’s not.

Let’s not blame our bad behavior on drinks or drugs. Or on music. Or on somebody else...not even out-of-state idiots who come to Colorado to catch Kitchen Dwellers, bringing COVID-19 with them. When we screw up and violate smart, scientifically proven methods of reducing the spread of this deadly virus, it’s on us. Our behavior will control whether or not we get to enjoy some of the music and life that we’ve lost since March 2020 and are slowly starting to regain.

Most venues, like the Boulder Theater, are operating safely, but fans are putting the music scene in danger.EXPAND
Most venues, like the Boulder Theater, are operating safely, but fans are putting the music scene in danger.
Mikayla Sanford

Even if we’ve been vaccinated (and thankfully many of us have been), we still need to wear those masks. We need to stop partying in close quarters. We need to quit acting like this disease has been licked. It’s still there. We can still transmit it. It can still kill the people we love. No shared lines of coke or hits off a pipe or orgies or dance parties or close-up conversations should cost a life.

We know better. The preservation of our music and cultural scenes are worth the price of taking a few basic precautions. That’s what it means to have a music community: We take care of each other. We quit screwing up, and if we can’t control our behavior, we stay home and isolate until we learn to respect the scene. We can share our drugs, our bodies, and our most intimate conversations when it's safe to do so again.

We love music. We need music. We need live music. It's good for our mental health, adds to our enjoyment of life. We need our venues to stay safe and open and put on shows — from underground house parties to Red Rocks. With current guidelines and best practices in place, that’s possible...if we don’t blow it.

So what do you say, Colorado? Can we do it? I think we can. You hold me accountable, and I’ll do the same for you. Let’s keep each other safe, keep live music alive, and enjoy as much pleasure as we can without risking anybody’s existence.

Let’s behave.

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