Friday Groove: #CancelEverything

Coronavirus has upended SXSW, Coachella, and a slew of other live music events. Source: Rolling Stone

Last week, I wrote about the upcoming D.C. Jam, a one-day music festival planned for July 4. While no announcement has been made yet concerning the cancellation of the festival, this event may be in jeopardy of being postponed or cancelled, like so many other events that are swiftly being modified to meet the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has affected various communities worldwide. While more cancellations are likely to come, COVID-19 has already drastically impacted a number of annual festivals, tours and concerts. 

On March 6, the city of Austin, TX announced that South by Southwest, the celebrated tech and music festival would be cancelled, and potentially rescheduled sometime later this year. Austin Public Health said, “there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.” Despite their statement, many are taking such precautions out of an abundance of caution. 

On Tuesday, Coachella also announced plans to postpone the annual music festival six months, until October 2020. Coachella organizers apologized for the inconvenience but asked people to “follow the guidelines and protocols put forth by public health officials.”

Dr. Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease physician specialist at Columbia University, says that music fans everywhere should expect cancellations and postponements. “The concern we’re seeing now is that, as we have an increased capacity to do testing, we’re seeing that this virus is already widespread in the country. You go to a concert, there’s that many people and that level of transmission that occurs at a concert. Unfortunately, those will be big spreading events.”

Concert promoters like Live Nation have taken measures themselves to be proactive about fighting the virus. Yesterday, Live Nation announced that they would halt all large-scale tours, in addition to requesting that artists return home. This comes as many local and state governments begin to institute bans on large gatherings (generally 500+ people).

Local venues like the 9:30 Club and The Anthem in Washington, D.C. are seeing a dramatic impact from the virus as they halted all performances through the end of the month. “The health of our employees, patrons, community and artists is paramount,” said I.M.P., the promoter for the 9:30 Club, “We look forward to seeing everyone in April and beyond.”

Tony Sheaffer is a staff writer at the UB Post who writes a weekly music column, Friday Groove.

Friday Groove: Dave Grohl Announces D.C. Jam Festival for July 4

Poster for the upcoming D.C. Jam. Photo: Washington Redskins

Earlier this week, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl announced plans for D.C. Jam, a new one-day music festival to be held at FedEx Field in Landover, MD on the Fourth of July.

In 2017, Grohl revived Cal Jam, a short lived music festival from the mid-1970’s. The revival was a major success, and it had been long-speculated that Grohl, a DC native, might bring a similar festival to the east coast. The inaugural festival included acts like Queens of the Stone Age, Cage the Elephant and Liam Gallagher of Oasis fame. The second festival in 2018 included Iggy Pop, Tenacious D and a Nirvana reunion, including surviving Nirvana members Grohl and Krist Novoselic, as well as touring guitarist Pat Smear, who later became a guitarist with Foo Fighters.

Chris Stapleton (Left), Dave Grohl (Center) and Pharrell (Right) are all set to play at D.C. Jam. Photo: Rolling Stone

The festival is set to include a number of acts, including Foo Fighters, Chris Stapleton, Pharrell and Band of Horses. In addition to the many music performances, there will be a world-class barbecue competition, rides, games and tailgating.

July 4, 2020 is also a special anniversary for Grohl and Foo Fighters: it is the 25th anniversary of their debut self-titled album. That first record started as a one-man (Grohl) solo project in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s suicide and the breakup of Nirvana, where Grohl was a drummer. 25 years later, Foo Fighters have turned into one of the most popular rock bands in the world.

Pre-sale tickets went on sale earlier this week, with public sale beginning today. Ticket prices seem affordable, starting at only $50, which is cheap compared to most other concerts and music festivals these days.

Tony Sheaffer is a staff writer at the UB Post who writes a weekly music column, Friday Groove.