PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Live concerts have been on hold for more than a year now, and many are wondering what the future looks like for live music.
With vaccines kicking into gear and herd immunity on the horizon, you’d think people could be rocking again this summer. But music promoters say it not that simple.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Weather: Tornado Warnings Issued For Local Counties Expired; Cleanup Underway After Storms Hit
“My favorite guitarist of all time, David Gilmour from Pink Floyd. The next one, Bob Dylan. The third one, the original Who,” said music promoter Rich Engler.
Engler has known them all and produced their shows, but after more than 6,000 concerts and 51 years in the business, he’s never seen a time in his life like this — the year the music died.
“There’s been bad years and there’s been phenomenal years, but never a year just wiped away, and people’s lives too, it’s crazy,” he said.
Concert halls, arenas and stadiums have been silent for a year now and those looking to rock this summer will likely be disappointed. Kenny Chesney won’t be coming, nor will the Stones or Springsteen.
“Everybody’s on the sidelines. I’ve been talking to Bruce’s camp. It’s the same thing,” said Engler.
Engler is looking to book some shows but can’t make them work with capacity limits at 20 percent and doesn’t want to advertise or pay the bands up front if he needs to move those dates. Even if herd immunity kicks in June or July, that won’t give promoters time enough to plan big shows.
“At the theater, and arena and stadium level — way too risky. Everybody’s praying for the fall,” said Engler.READ MORE: 2 Deaths, 1 Injury Being Investigated At North Central Regional Jail In West Virginia
Kevin McMahon of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust says, “there are many variables out there.”
The summer may not be an entire washout. Allegheny County does not yet have a line-up for free concerts at Hartwood Acres and South Park but says it is going ahead with scheduling them.
And McMahon says there will be some concerts with limited attendances at the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival. The Trust has begun scheduling its Broadway Play series beginning in September but concedes most concerts and theater events will need to wait until later.
“When does that start up again? Our best assumption right now is certainly still the fall. That’s what we’re planning,” said McMahon.
It’ll leave a whole industry to stand down for months to come.
“The sound companies, the stagehands, the lighting companies, the roadies, some of the people on the low end don’t make a lot of money. They have to be really suffering,” Engler said.
But Engler says don’t expect to get any discounts from the performers themselves, who are used to being and living like the rock stars they are.
“They’re all spoiled. They get overpaid already. They’re not cutting anyone a break. It’s pay up or shut up or move over,” said Engler.MORE NEWS: Westmoreland County Election Officials Ready For November
Still, if vaccines pick up and venues get an all-clear early, Engler says some smaller shows could get scheduled in a hurry. But for now, the big acts will stay on the sidelines.