Online Concert
Pricey online events aren’t really worth it. Image: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum.
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Rosé wine, steak, mash potatoes, and live music, why not?

One of the things I was looking forward to the most this summer was the annual Bluesfest festival held at Lebreton Flats. I had bought my tickets all the way back in February as soon as tickets went on sale.

I was stoked to see some of my favourite bands such as blink-182, Billy Talent and Crown Lands, as well as a bunch of other artists who feature in my Spotify library such as Big Wreck, Rage Against the Machine, Jack Johnson and the National. Hell, I was even excited to see Alanis Morissette! 

Sadly, a pandemic had to happen and Bluesfest was cancelled and pushed back to the summer of 2021. Concertgoers were given the choice of keeping their bracelets for 2021 or a full reimbursement — I chose to keep my bracelet. 

However, even with positive news on the vaccine front, I’m doubtful that the 2021 Bluesfest will take place. 

Musicians have had to face the reality that live concerts — for many, their lone source of income — would not be a possibility for a while. The music industry as a whole has had to find innovative ways to put bread on the table in these challenging times. 

In the summer, innovation led to bringing new life to drive-in theatres with live concerts in front of crowded parking lots. These concerts, although not great, were an interesting experience for both those performing and those attending and were worth the low admission prices. 

With the weather changing, outdoor concerts — in Ottawa at least — are done for the year. This means artists wanting to perform in front of live audiences have had to do so virtually over Zoom and even the much dreaded Google Meets. 

Last week, the first ever virtual CityFolk festival took place whereas last year, I went to CityFolk in person with a friend and saw both Our Lady Peace and Robert Plant. It was a cool experience, the Lansdowne arches really provided a good background to the festival. 

The only negative was that finding parking in the Glebe was impossible and we had to walk for a while encountering large crowds.

This year, CityFolk was held online and featured acts that, let’s be honest, weren’t as cool as the former lead singer of Led Zeppelin. Featuring eight artists (only one that I have heard of) the festival had a price tag of $17.50, a hefty price for students.

Now, this is not to shit on the artists — they need to feed their families — but paying $17.50 for an experience that I can pretty much get for free on YouTube is not enticing in the least. 

With the pandemic dragging on, artists and promoters need to find a better way to deliver live music. One idea could be gigs in socially distanced venues, complete with food and drinks — a little bit like a comedy club. 

This would create a much better safe atmosphere, audiences would definitely be willing to pay a little more to see the artist (especially if the ticket includes food) understanding that it will be a much more intimate experience.

Most musicians could adapt their performances to these venues very easily by playing unplugged sets. This would require actual talent which may weed out some artists, just saying. 

Others who perform electronic sets would struggle to adapt to the setting, but I’m sure people would be intrigued by the sheer fact these are in person concerts.

This would be great for artists who perform with guitars and could lead to some very cool arrangements in genres such as RnB and rap. Instead of having electronic beats, rappers could perform with beatboxers. 

Overall, having socially distanced cafe style gigs could also be a way to revitalize local venues so they can operate and make minimal revenue — enough to pay rent. 

While it’s one way to combat the pandemic preventing live concerts, pricey online events aren’t really worth it and artists need to figure out a way to deliver live music to their eager fans. 


  • Charley Dutil was the editor-in-chief of the Fulcrum for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 publishing years. Before that, he was the sports editor for the 2019-20 year, and sports associate for 2018-2019.