By Maya Smelser & Anouk Ghosh-Poulshock
Everyone remembers their first concert. But when the pandemic hit, many tours were canceled or rescheduled. There was a hiatus from live music as people adjusted to their new lives– so many teens missed out on their early concert experiences..
In the past few months, however, concerts have made a comeback and people have returned to see their favorite artists. But how has the experience changed with COVID still present?
In an anonymous form, students were asked how events before and during COVID are different. Many claimed there wasn’t a big difference, saying, “the only real difference obviously were the masks and proof of vaccination, but the atmosphere felt somewhat happier during the pandemic than before,” and, “the crowd was slightly smaller but apart from that there was no big difference.”
“Going before the pandemic, you don’t really think about the events you are going to in the moment because you are taking them for granted,” another wrote. “You can never imagine not being able to go to these events.”
Before the pandemic started, there were no mask mandates, no vaccination or testing requirements, and no limited capacity. During the pandemic, there were still many virtual events, but none were the same. Some recall virtual plays and meet and greets, which were popular but nowhere near as much as live music.
Now, concerts are getting back to a pre-pandemic point. Most concerts have a mask requirement, but it is rarely followed, and mask mandates are being lifted gradually. Additionally some concert venues require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. Though this isn’t exactly what pre-pandemic concerts were like, it is very close to it.
“During the pandemic you are much more conscious of everything. Who is wearing a mask, how close people are to each other, who is coughing and sneezing,” said another student respondent. “But, you do appreciate everything more than before the pandemic.”
Another respondent said concerns are still “Fun but they felt a little less lively.”
“People were just wearing masks and I had to get my temperature taken before going in where the concert was happening but otherwise the experience didn’t change much,” wrote another.
Concerts themselves haven’t changed drastically, and it is almost the same with a few new rules.
The biggest concert in Philadelphia is Made in America, which was founded by Jay-Z and the first show was in 2012. The festival takes place every year, over Labor Day weekend, and is located on the Ben Franklin Parkway. In 2020 however, the festival was canceled due to the pandemic. In 2021, it was brought back, except there were a few differences. Masks and proof of vaccination was required upon entry, but it was not enforced. The concert said they would require proof of vaccination, but they didn’t check and masks were not worn after people entered the grounds of the festival. In 2021 alone, there were over 50,000 events. The first in-person school year since the pandemic began had just started, but COVID cases were still at a high. In September of 2021, when Made in America took place, there were double the cases then there were at that point the year prior.
As well as concerts, live sports have gotten more popular again as well. People have started going to baseball, football, and hockey games at in person venues.
One student noted that the change is more psychological than anything else.
“The biggest difference for me is the mentality. You appreciate being able to do things more because it might be the last time you can for two years.”
One student shared their experience seeing Harry Styles in concert. They seemed happy with how COVID precautions were handled.
“The event met my expectations specifically for its urge on health safety,” they wrote. “Everyone was required to be both fully vaccinated with the physical vaccination card, your ID, as well as adorning a mask for the remainder of the night.”
“Personally, I am not bothered or uncomfortable wearing a mask for long periods of time but some people around me tended to complain and it dampened the positivity of my experience in New York. Overall it was a great time.”