What would you do to go to a concert right now? Would you get your temperature taken at the door? Wear a mask? Sit away from the rest of the audience with your friends — or pay for the surrounding empty seats if you wanted to go alone? Around 200 fans did exactly that to go to the country’s first live concert, in a venue, in about two months. The Travis McCready show at Temple Live in Fort Smith, Arkansas, took place on May 18 for a small group of dedicated fans, some of whom drove up to six hours to attend. It happened three days after its original scheduled date, which was postponed to align with Arkansas’s scheduled reopening of indoor venues during the coronavirus pandemic. Temple Live, a converted Masonic temple, reduced its usual 1,100-seat capacity to 229 for the night, after getting an exception from the state. “If you can go to a church and it’s a public assembly, there is no difference,” a rep for the venue told the New York Times. The concert nearly sold out.
Tickets went for $20, sold in “fan pods” of up to six. Along with requiring temperature checks and masks, the venue directed parties to keep a six-foot distance from each other, ensured one-way traffic through hallways, and kept bathrooms at a ten-person capacity. The venue’s full 30-person staff worked the show, according to the Times, and Lance Beaty, president of Temple Live’s parent company, said the venue lost money on the show. “It’s clearly not a financial decision that we did this,” he told the Times.
But how about the music? Opener Lauren Brown performed with a full band and even covered Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” Meanwhile, McCready, a member of the blues rock band Bishop Gunn, performed seated and only accompanied by a dog onstage. He played his own cover of Audioslave’s “I Am the Highway,” along with Bishop Gunn songs like “Riders.”