A live music venue with shuttered doors. Old concert posters are taped up and a health mask is fluttering in the wind. There are graffiti markings over the closed pull down garage doors.
Jimmy Simpson for Marker

Live Music Is About to Get Its Grand Reopening

And it’s going to be total chaos

Many were among the first to close, and their cramped, body-packed design makes them a significant transmission risk and likely to be among the last businesses to figure out how to safely reopen.

Laura Jane Grace and Against Me! perform during a secret aftershow party at Saint Vitus Bar on May 4, 2014 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in New York City. Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images
The Armed at Saint Vitus Bar on September 13, 2019. Photo: Nathaniel Shannon courtesy of Saint Vitus Bar

Cash-strapped venues, operating on razor-thin margins and requiring 70% to 80% capacity and bar sales just to break even, can’t really do the partial reopenings that restaurants have done.

Shows at Saint Vitus Bar in Greenpoint, Brooklyn clockwise from top left: 1349 on January 14, 2016; Obituary on October 10, 2013; Thursday on March 18, 2019; Today in the Day on May 23, 2016. Photos: Nathaniel Shannon courtesy of Saint Vitus Bar.

“It is going to be the biggest shitshow in the history of the entertainment industry.”

Illustration of various live concert flyers. Each concert poster has “2020” featured prominently.
Illustration of various live concert flyers. Each concert poster has “2020” featured prominently.

Is it still a show if you’re screaming the lyrics to your favorite song six feet away from other fans?

Perhaps the biggest winners in all of this have been the large digital video platforms, which have reaped the benefits of desperate artists and a captive audience stuck at home.

Killing Joke at Saint Vitus Bar on May 16, 2019. Photo: Nathaniel Shannon courtesy of Saint Vitus Bar
Attendees collect tshirts during an intimate blink-182 NINE ENCORES show hosted by Spotify in celebration of Nine at Saint Vitus bar on September 19, 2019 in Brooklyn, New York. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Spotify

“At least a third of the music venues in New York City won’t come back.”

(L-R) Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker and Matt Skiba of blink-182 perform on stage during an intimate blink-182 NINE ENCORES show hosted by Spotify in celebration of Nine at Saint Vitus bar on September 19, 2019 in Brooklyn, New York. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Spotify

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A Chicago expat living in Los Angeles, Patrick Sisson writes about the intersection of cities, business, and culture.

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