The lifting of restrictions is not without its share of worries, for artists and gig-goers alike.
The last concert I attended was in February 2020, making this my longest period of time without live music since I was seven. So, you’d be forgiven for thinking that having tickets to the upcoming Sports Team concert at SWG3 would have me even more excited than when Nicola said that we were allowed to hug our grannies again.
However, something I would never have expected as I left that final gig 20 months ago is that the thought of hundreds of people being side-by-side would fill me with more anxiety than excitement. After months of multiple lockdowns, Zoom calls, and socially distanced drinks with friends, how does one prepare for the return to sweat-filled mosh pits? I don’t think there is any one answer to this – jumping back into the deep-end can feel hard when there is no longer any government guidance to support you.
Anxiety aside, it seems only right that my first night back on the Glasgow gig scene was in SWG3 – the last venue in which I’d experienced the magical feeling of screaming until my lungs hurt. I hold fond memories there of having lukewarm cups of water poured over my head as metal barriers bruise my sides (I promise it’s more fun than it sounds) whilst seeing some of my favourite acts including Declan Welsh and JPEGMAFIA. While Sports Team are not as close to my heart as the aforementioned artists, I’m a huge fan of their supporting act, Lucia and the Best Boys. I must admit that I was looking forward to seeing one of my favourite bands in person for the second time. As daunting as the return to gigging post-lockdown feels, I firmly believe that it is important to support a wounded music industry.
The negative impact of the pandemic on artists is no secret. I was very fortunate to have spoken to Keira McGuire, vocalist and guitarist for the Glasgow based band The Spyres, about the return to in-person events: “We couldn’t have asked for a better first gig back,” Keira said of the band’s first post-lockdown concert at King Tut’s. Unfortunately, bandmate Emily Downie caught Covid-19 at the event, which seems worryingly common in settings like concerts and nightclubs at the moment as there are virtually no restrictions in place.
Life after lockdown is tricky to navigate, both for musicians and listeners. Keira explained that she was worried that, as a relatively new band, when Spyres returned post-restrictions they would have minimal support, saying: “we pushed ourselves to the front of all the bands and now we are going to just be sent right back.” Striking a balance between supporting the arts and minimising your own anxiety is something many of us will soon have to come to terms with. However, whether you’re queuing outside the door of every gig venue in Glasgow or sitting behind your bedroom door streaming your favourite artist, all of these contributions are essential in keeping the music industry afloat and I can’t wait to see what it has in store for us in the next year.