What socially distanced concerts might look like in Ireland

The first socially distanced concert happening in the UK on August 11 has a lot of people wondering, is this what the new norm will look like going forward? In Ireland, we have three counties back in lockdown and the two-metre rule is still in play, which begs the question: just when will concerts start back up? It seems like it won’t be any time soon considering the pubs have yet to re-open and the cases continue to rise.  When they do though, socially distanced concerts seem like the obvious choice, in theory. There will be a lot of obstacles to overcome if we, in Ireland, are to make this our new norm.

Capacity Levels

With a capacity of 13,000, Three Arena, Dublin is one of the main concert halls that host big artists such as Ariana Grande, Harry Styles, and The 1975. The venue has an estimated 40 concerts a year being held and it is understood if you get standing tickets personal space is not a thing. A benefit for some is that the crowding will be a thing of the past as the venues will have to adhere to the two metres rule if they are to open and hold concerts.

This might pose a problem for small venues. The bigger arenas such as Three Arena, Croke Park, Aviva and Pairc Ui Chaoimh will be okay and be able to socially distance by the use of staggered seating and the ground level having designated areas; smaller venues do not have the same luxury. The Olympia Theatre, for instance, has quite narrow seating with a capacity of just 1,240. If they are not allowed to use the full capacity of the venue it will be detrimental to them and other small venues like them.

Pricing

The average cost of concert tickets in Ireland according to Pollstar is €62.71. A lot of artists’ main profit comes from their tours so with the expected reduced capacity needed to adhere to social distancing we might see a price rise. This could pose another problem for the venues as people might not be willing to pay for tickets that are priced too high. The UK’s tickets were priced reasonably, coming in at £37.50 per person and a £20 fee per platform. If Ireland adopted the same pricing pattern for the socially distanced concerts then it could very well happen.

Obtaining tickets

Everyone knows the rush of trying to get a sought after ticket. Sitting at your computer while waiting for nine o’clock to come so you can get them on Ticketmaster before the ticket bots take them all and try to sell them for double the amount. If we are to go with socially distanced concerts this will make this process all the more difficult for people to get tickets and a lot more pressure will be added. There are ways to combat this though, such as signing up to MCD or signing up for presale tickets. This will give you notice for when they are on sale and the panic of trying to get general release will not be there.

Another option could be to use the same system Ed Sheeran created. He has already put steps in place to stop the bots from snatching up all the tickets when they first come out. If this was to be adopted in Ireland obtaining tickets for these socially distanced concerts has a chance of working.

Backlogged Concerts

It seems like we will be living side by side with this virus going into 2021. The economy has to start back up which means the concerts will eventually come back. With all of the concerts from March onwards being cancelled or rescheduled, that means going into 2021 there will be a backlog of concerts that people will be attending. This will reduce the upcoming concerts of 2021 to facilitate the cancelled ones this year which brings back the capacity level issue. Concerts booked this year did not allow for social distancing. It sounds like a headache waiting to happen for venues trying to accommodate all the people who are waiting patiently to go to their rescheduled concerts next year. Adding more nights to the concerts and splitting the ticketholders up is one way they could still hold the concerts while adhering to social distancing.

Atmosphere

As with anything, the atmosphere makes the evening. Irish people, in particular, enjoy a good night out. When the UK had its first socially distanced concert, I had five separate conversations with people who complained that it was pointless because there would be no ‘craic’ at it. Thankfully this is an easier issue to solve as having a good night doesn’t have to depend on others. It is possible for there to be a good atmosphere even while being apart. It is all about what you make of the night yourself!

Feasibility

This is the biggest question. Is it feasible in the long run? The short answer is yes, it is feasible. There are a lot of issues to try and sort through and as with anything, there will be a few hiccups along the way, especially when it comes to indoor concerts. It is doable though, and it might be the only option we have as Covid-19 looks to be here for the long run. The economy has to start back up at some point and while it might look different, different doesn’t mean bad.

Do you think will Ireland follow the UK with socially distanced concerts? Leave a comment down below and let me know your thoughts on the matter.

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Katie Boland

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