Those events where we used to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, heedlessly spewing respiratory droplets while singing along to our favourite songs and enjoying — sometimes even sharing — drinks?
It all seems surreal after 15 months of social distancing, sanitizing, masking and staying home — but with more and more events around the world returning to normal as people become vaccinated against COVID-19, a series of socially-distanced outdoor concerts will be coming to Edmonton this August.
The Together Again outdoor concert series is set to take place at the Racetrack Infield on the Edmonton Exhibition Lands (formerly Northlands Park) in central Edmonton.
The series kicks off on Aug. 6 and continues throughout August, featuring Blue Rodeo, Dean Brody, Our Lady Peace, Serena Ryder, The Trews, Alan Doyle, I Mother Earth, The Road Hammers, Bif Naked, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Captain Tractor, Jess Moskaluke and more.
Together Again will mark the first major outdoor concert series emerging out of the pandemic in Canada, organizers said.
“The world has changed, and live events are changing with it; a new outdoor concert series bringing people together in a safe way is here,” a news release by live event management and consultation firm Trixstar said.
“Music is an important part of bringing people together and connecting is fundamental for our mental health,” Trixstar president Mike Anderson said. “We’re making it safer and more intimate while creating more space and keeping the same excitement you’d expect seeing your favorite bands perform live on stage.
“It’s time to get off our screens and back to experiences.”
The current lineup is:
Friday, Aug. 6: Five Alarm Funk, The Jerry Cans, DJ Shub, Shawnee Kish, Halcyon Gray
Saturday, Aug. 7: Serena Ryder, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Nuela Charles, Carter & The Capitals, Shaela Miller
Sunday, Aug. 8: The Trews, 54-40, Bif Naked, Kane Incognito, Stephanie Harpe Experience
Saturday, Aug. 21: Blue Rodeo, Alan Doyle, Captain Tractor, Hailey Benedict and more
Sunday, Aug. 22: Dean Brody, The Road Hammers, Jess Moskaluke, Dan Davidson, Alee
Sunday, Aug. 29: Our Lady Peace, I Mother Earth, Danko Jones, Royal Tusk, Whale & The Wolf
Organizers said more dates and artists will be announced.
Anderson said the event is 14 months in the making: the company figured things would return to some sort of normal someday — but what would concerts looks like in a post-COVID world?
“We reinvented the whole concert experience. We stripped it down and built it back from scratch,” he said, explaining the idea was to bring outside the experience of watching a show at the Jubilee Auditorium or another indoor concert venue.
Public health measures will still be in effect at the event, including limited capacities to ensure safe social distancing, reserved tables for up to six people (with full food and beverage service ordered via your phone), contact tracing, mandatory masks and more — not unlike the current Alberta Health guidelines in place for restaurant patios.
“People buy a table for two, four, six people. Those tables will be two metres away from the other table. But it’s still going to be an intimate experience and they’re still going to be able to engage with their favourite artists,” Anderson said, adding there won’t be a mosh pit in front of the stage.
“We also eliminated probably the biggest lineup at a festival, which is the bar. So people will be able to scan a bar code at their table, order their drinks right there on their phone, their food, the merchandise, and five minutes later, everything will be delivered to them right at the table.”
Read more: Alberta live music professionals can soon apply for new grants to help them through COVID-19 pandemic
Trixstar said the concert series will create over 500 jobs for artists, technicians, security guards, suppliers, bartenders, parking staff and countless others that have had a tough 15 months.
“The artists are happy, the fans are happy, but also the employees like the security guards, the the ticket takers, the stage techs, the food truck operators, the toilet company, the tent constructors,” Anderson said.
“They’ve all been out of work as well for the last 15 months and not being able to do what they do. So to have them all come back together for this event is very special to us.”
From every ticket purchased, $2 will be donated to Boyle Street and Hope Mission, helping them support men, women, youth and children experiencing poverty and homelessness in Edmonton.
“It is an honour to be a charity of choice for the Together Again concert series” said Laurel McCalla, Boyle Street Community Services’ director of development.
“When organizations like Trixstar support Boyle Street, they signal their desire to create inclusive communities where individuals experiencing poverty and homelessness in Edmonton can achieve their goals.”
“Hope Mission has been extremely active supporting the vulnerable population during the pandemic and we could not operate our programs without strong community support,” said Hope Mission manager Tim Pasma.
“This concert series was built on the foundation of second chances, and supporting the community is a priority for us.” Anderson said.
“We are very excited to get the live events industry back up and running.”
Tickets can be reserved for tables of two, four or six, starting as low as $59 per person. They go on sale Friday, June 11 at 10 a.m MT.