Why do people keep risking their lives to see shit bands?

In the past few months, punters have put it all on the line to see – *checks notes* – The Chainsmokers, Static X and Smash Mouth. Wait, what?

In any other year but 2020, what would you risk your life for? A child? A loved one? A pet? A political cause? Maybe your favourite dessert? Well, it is 2020 and natural selection is still in full flow, we’re pleased to report. We’re less pleased to report that it’s being showcased at concerts all across – you guessed it, America.

Thousands of people are gathering at gigs and ‘herd immunity’ festivals across the pond, and not even to watch Oasis reform, nor Kurt Cobain to rise from the dead, but to bands where they had one song where you go, ‘Oh yeah, them’ at the end of a night in your hometown nightclub on Christmas Eve.

The ‘Herd Immunity’ festival that took place in Wisconsin in July was quickly renamed ‘July Mini Fest’ after some bands refused to play (not daft haired metallers Static X, though – they were there like a shot in the arm of Covid. Well, do they do – no shit – have a song called ‘Wisconsin Death Trip’). And just last week the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota went ahead, attracting 250,000 people over 10 days and featuring performances from a number of bands including Smash Mouth, whose lead singer Steve Harwell shouted “We’re all here together tonight! Fuck that COVID shit!” to his adoring, non-socially distanced fans.

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Imagine, for a moment, being questioned in the hospital about what contact you’ve had with people – were you on a slightly busy bus on your way to your second job that couldn’t be avoided? Perhaps you’re a teacher and caught it from one of your students? No, you were shouting the words to Smash Mouth’s one hit that was in Shrek, while sweating against someone you’ve never met before.

The festival’s official description reads like a spoof, boasting that it “features motorcycle shows, a roller derby and a number of nightly musical performances from the likes of Smash Mouth, Trapt, Buckcherry, Drowning Pool, Night Ranger, Reverend Horton Heat, Lit, 38 Special, Quiet Riot, and Big Skillet.” Oh, well – count me in! If there’s one way to go, it’s listening to a band you’ve never heard of, named after a frying pan, at a roller derby.

Are we missing something? Has there been a memo saying it’s better to get a potentially deadly disease if you’re listening to bands who think it’s fine to play a festival in the middle of a pandemic? It sort of sounds like one of those ‘70s suicide cults, but with a much shitter soundtrack.

Continuing the trend, there was an enquiry into a gig by The Chainsmokers in The Hamptons (the posh area in upstate New York that’s always mentioned in TV shows) after the crowd appeared to be showing no signs of social distancing. If you haven’t heard The Chainsmokers, picture lift music that’s become sentient. That’s what these people were risking their lives for. A band who are named after a practise that causes cancer, and who look like The Village People tried to look a bit edgy for a night out in Preston Spoons.

The States almost make us here in the UK look good, with drive-in gigs featuring The Streets, Kaiser Chiefs, and Dizzee Rascal cancelled due to local lockdown fears. Look how responsible we are! You know, aside from the whole, highest death rate in Europe thing – but who’s counting? Certainly not the Government.

There’s some light at the end of the tunnel, with Sam Fender opening the country’s first major socially distanced outdoor show in Newcastle this week, with 2,500 punters spread over 500 tables, two metres apart from each other. At least the portaloo situation would probably be better, the usual ‘Vietnam war’ experience relegated to the past.

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If you’re conscious of not killing others but really need to go to a gig, you might want to get yourself over to Germany, where scientists are looking for volunteers to attend a concert by singer-songwriter Tim Bendzko, where they’ll trial how concerts can happen going forward, tracking movements of the crowd and assessing the risk posed to punters. Nothing like enjoying music while helping humanity, guys!

You know that game you play with your mates after a few pints sometimes? If you had to choose a way to die, what would you choose? Popular answers include ‘drug fuelled orgy gone wrong’, ‘quick bullet to the head’ and the old classic from your mate Paul that never plays properly ‘peacefully in my sleep’. You can’t have that, Paul! That’s not how the game works! That’s the equivalent of saying you’d wish for more wishes! And while we’re at it, you never buy a round! Anyway, my point is, nobody has ever answered it with ‘watching Smash Mouth at a motorcycle event in South Dakota.’ And that should tell you something.

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