Drive-in live shows: music to the ears of audience- (and cash-) starved bands | Music


Before covid, the surf rock duo Hockey Dad would often launch a brand new album with a string of file retailer exhibits. “However clearly we will’t try this proper now,” says the band’s drummer, Billy Fleming. So for his or her new LP, Mind Sweet, they’re making an attempt one thing totally different: a drive-in gig. 

On their July launch date they’ll play from a stage at Wollongong’s Bulli showground whereas 400 carloads of followers watch from behind their windscreens. 

“We haven’t been to one among these, so we don’t know in the event that they’re any good or not,” vocalist Zach Stephenson says. “However simply the thought of enjoying a gig – we’d play a gig for an empty room, actually. We’re tremendous eager to get on the market.”

Theirs is only one of many drive-in gigs set to happen subsequent month as Australia slowly begins to reopen. For 3 nights from 10 July, drive-in competition Airwaves will arrange on the Sunshine Coast with a line-up led by the Chats. In Melbourne a “reside leisure precinct” referred to as The Drive-In will take over Flemington racecourse, providing weekly reside music in addition to comedy and film nights. One other providing, Drive-in Leisure Australia, plans to launch across the nation subsequent month.

Drive-in gigs have emerged as a inventive resolution for an business in disaster. The pandemic has indefinitely halted conventional reside exhibits, music’s monetary lifeblood. Massive public gatherings sardine-packed with sweaty our bodies will probably be among the many final issues to return: Splendour within the Grass, which was beforehand rescheduled from July till October, introduced this week its 2020 occasion is not going to go forward.

And whereas main occasions like Falls competition plan to proceed with native line-ups in December, some are predicting festivals as we all know them gained’t be capable of return till late 2022. With hundreds out of labor, the business is lobbying the federal government for monetary help together with enterprise grants and an growth of the jobkeeper scheme. 

However gigs like Hockey Dad’s permit audiences to stay of their automotive, safely spaced from others and circumventing restrictions on public gatherings. Punters solely get out to make use of the bathrooms, the place bodily distancing measures will probably be in place. Hand sanitiser will probably be distributed and ticketing will probably be contactless. It’s a format that has been examined and confirmed profitable in European international locations like Denmark and Germany.

These exhibits would be the first paid gig many individuals within the business have had since March. Airwaves’ occasion director, Cindy Jensen, says organising her occasion has highlighted how determined the music business is for work. “Since we launched [last Monday] I’ve been inundated – and I imply inundated – with calls from manufacturing homes, foodies, market stall holders asking: ‘Have you ever received this sorted?’ Everyone seems to be simply screaming out for work.” 

She thinks drive-in gigs are a constructive first step: “Hopefully [they] will kickstart the business rather a lot before they anticipated.”

These occasions have been pulled collectively at warp velocity: whereas festivals usually have a lead time of a yr, planning for Airwaves started solely 5 weeks in the past. Many promoters are nonetheless working with authorities to find out in the event that they’ll be capable of promote food and drinks, and the uncertainty about when restrictions will unwind additional presents logistical issues. 

Hockey Dad perform at St Jerome’s Laneway festival in February, just before shutdowns started across the country.
Hockey Dad carry out at St Jerome’s Laneway competition in February, simply earlier than shutdowns began throughout the nation. : Mackenzie Sweetnam/Getty Photos

“Even now we’re planning for an occasion the place the utmost quantity of people that will be outdoors, say, lining up for the bathrooms, is altering on a weekly foundation,” says Jensen. “So it actually does make it troublesome.”

Whereas they wait to iron out the finer particulars, competition organisers are centered on delivering one of the best manufacturing they’ll. Hockey Dad’s present and Melbourne’s The Drive-In will stream sound by means of an FM radio transmission. Airwaves is utilizing FM radio as a moist climate back-up plan, however hopes to have the ability to have punters roll down their window and pay attention reside.

“We wish to present probably the most reside music expertise attainable,” Jensen says. “In the event you undergo radio, there’s a little bit of a delay with sound. So we’re praying for nice climate.”

The corporate behind The Drive-In, Untitled Group, additionally run festivals together with Past the Valley. Its director, Christian Serrao, says the Flemington racecourse gigs will run “identical to another occasion like ours”. 

“We’re going to have the very same stage as we do at Past the Valley; we’re utilizing the identical crew. It’s all what you’ll anticipate from a typical reside present,” he says.

Nonetheless, it’s uncharted territory right here. Hockey Dad understand it gained’t be fairly the identical as the actual factor, however they’re eager to learn the way the exhibits really feel.

“Often you work together with the group, the power is there and also you feed off bit – when to go a bit bit heavier or softer. However that engagement is simply going to be individuals beeping their horns,” Fleming says.

“I don’t know what it’s going to be like but,” Stephenson provides. “I suppose we’ll determine it out as quickly as we stroll out and there’s simply one million windshields us.”