Music has those “charms to soothe.” What a welcome attribute in times like these.
Performers of live music, suppressed by the pandemic, are finding responsible new ways to connect and uplift even with venues shuttered..
A Brooklyn sidewalk ensemble plays Brahms for enchanted passersby. The Avett Brothers sing for a drive-in-distanced audience at the Charlotte Motor Speedway – also taking a lap, to cheers, in an old Plymouth Roadrunner. The Flaming Lips, performance pioneers, try extending their long-running plastic-bubble motif by encasing some audience members.
Interplay is the driver, and it’s a two-way kick. Many bands – not just jam bands – use crowd input to shape each show.
Stephen Humphries, the Monitor’s chief culture writer, calls this a “communion.” Stephen’s a concert devotee. (He and I have tickets for a David Crosby show that got bumped from last June to this coming one.)
“There's a whole different dynamic when a band is playing live,” he says. He recalls a pre-pandemic concert at which Canadian indie-pop singer Feist began exchanging bird calls with his wife as Feist teased an avian-themed song.
It was one of several points, Stephen says, at which “the sheer beauty of the music made me feel as if I was levitating.
“That kind of feeling – which, in normal times, people around the world experience every night at live shows – can't be replaced.”
We wave our virtual lighters and embrace its cautious return.