The Live-Music-Shaped Hole In Our Pandemic Lives

Waiting in front of Mayer’s Tavern for a late July beach vacation dinner, counting the number of patrons with their masks on, I heard a familiar guitar strum, the refrain “faaaaaaade into you.” The sound of a muffled bar band* covering an old favorite reminded me how much I missed live music. It didn’t matter that Mazzy Star, Radiohead and Neil Young weren’t there in Cape May. I got to hear a more-than-decent band play my favorites over an open-air dinner, and it was a glorious surprise.

Mayer’s Tavern, Cape May, NJ
Mayer’s Tavern, Cape May, New Jersey

New York has been living without any live entertainment since March. Summerstage, canceled. Celebrate Brooklyn!, canceled. New albums are coming and going without tours.

Before the pandemic, concerts were one of the things that kept me going. Like little vacations (and we all know travel is out for a while), live shows were breaks I would look forward to between stressful workweeks. I have “concert friends” I haven’t seen in ages. I miss my favorite spot between the trees at the Prospect Park Bandshell, and the $8 canned rosé. These shows were 3-hour escapes, a 10 minute walk from home.

As Sarah Cracknell sings about being too young for live shows in Saint Etienne’s “Over the Border,” we all know what it’s like to wait, to yearn.

A few weeks and I’d be free
A few weeks and music wouldn’t have to be so private, it would be there for me

The snippets of live music we hear while gathering is still not allowed remind us of how important it is. You hear the energy in the protest chants, drums and songs at the Black Lives Matter marches, and can even feel soothed by the late night comedy show band members playing their usual hooks, remotely from home. We’re finding ways to keep live music around us, because it helps to keep us going through this time, just like when we were 17.

“Over the Border” ends with the hope that music would continue to permeate her life:

It would be there for me, and when I was married, and when I had kids
Would Marc Bolan still be so important?
Over the border, I’m growing older, heaven only knows what’s on its way
Every single day, love is here to stay

Special thanks to Perfume Genius, Fiona Apple, Taylor Swift, Lianne La Havas, Phoebe Bridgers, The Weeknd, Glass Animals, Jarvis Cocker, Angel Olsen, Father John Misty, Beyoncé, Bright Eyes(!), and everyone else who I don’t know yet for giving us both wonderful music to listen to now, and the hope for something to look forward to on the other side. I can’t wait to dance with you all.

*the band at Mayer’s was Clavicles and they were fantastic! Get the scallops.

Product management consultant, helping founders get ideas built. Lover of efficiency, dogs, bikes, plants, cooking, nachos and feminism.