Pop music has had a year like no other, starting 2021 with venues closed and ending with an explosion of concerts.
Not that the music wasn’t done. In the first few months of the year, many musicians learned to change direction in 2020 and were playing concerts, collaborating through Zoom and making albums somehow, even though they couldn’t. follow these albums with concert tours.
Music was also back on television, and Deshawn Gonçalves, a native of Columbus, competed on a socially distant version of “American Idol,” making it into the top 10.
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In March, live music was also making an appearance in Columbus, mainly at smaller clubs such as Natalie’s Grandview and Ace of Cups, which were at that time limited to 25% of their capacity.
In June, capacity limits were lifted in Ohio, but many larger sites remained closed for the summer. Outdoor concerts, however, have started to take off.
The picnic with the pops of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra returned to John F. Wolfe Columbus Commons in June and, as Dispatch reviewer Lynn Green put it, the concert was “just what so many people in Columbus needed. to hear “.
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Many music festivals weren’t as busy as they once were. Some of the regulars – including Comfest and the Jazz & Ribs Fest – have chosen to wait until 2022 to resume programming. Others, like the Dublin Irish Festival, chose formats that didn’t include as many crowded people.
Other festivals, especially those in late summer, went as planned, urging social distancing but not limiting crowds.
The Lancaster Festival was back in July, with lively outdoor concerts featuring The Band Perry and Don Felder.
One of the biggest concerts of the year, the Hella Mega Tour featuring Green Day and Weezer, took place in front of a large crowd on August 17 at Historic Crew Stadium, during an event that the Dispatch reporter Adam Jardy has called “a slice of normalcy again on soundtrack by some of the best-known rock songs of the past 25 years.”
Express Live has made good use of its outdoor space starting in August, with concerts from the Avett Brothers, Modest Mouse, Lady A and more, and two sold-out shows featuring local Caamp music, including the first, Dispatch critic Curtis Schieber called it “as sunny as the afternoon was hot.”
The summer ended with the Wonderbus Music Fest, featuring Kesha and Wilco, the weekend of August 28 on the CAS lawn, and the electronic music-themed Breakaway Music Festival at the Historic Crew Stadium. September 3 and 4. Luke Bryan extended the season through September with a Farm Tour concert in Baltimore on September 17th.
The fall brought some confusion for venues and their patrons, as establishments struggled to balance public safety and private enjoyment, and policies regarding masks, vaccinations, COVID testing and other safety measures were taken. been published, reviewed and republished on an ongoing basis. evolutionary process which meant customers had to be on guard before attending a concert.
Musicians also participated in the act, with some refusing to perform in places requiring vaccinations, and others demanding that the audience be vaccinated or tested.
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Confusion aside, the fall brought a musical schedule at least as busy as any previous year, as concerts that had been postponed two or three times over the course of more than a year finally began to fail. take place. Musicians who couldn’t wait to get back on stage began to tour, and audiences who had waited, sometimes literally for years, to see their favorite artists finally got the chance to do so.
The Nationwide Arena came back to life with a rowdy and good-humored Eric Church concert on September 18th.
Value City Arena returned with rock stalwarts Guns N ‘Roses on September 23.
Outdoor festivals in Hocking Hills came to a close on the weekend of October 9, when the Nelsonville Music Festival and Duck Creek Log Jam joined forces for the Hocking Hills Music Festival, a low-key but soul-satisfying event. highlighted by a performance by bluegrass legend Del McCoury.
Columbus native Twenty One Pilots put on three successful and well-attended shows at the Nationwide Arena in late October, with patient attendees lining up in the rain for a chance to enjoy top-notch real estate near the front of the stage, where Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun took full advantage of the theatrical possibilities offered by an arena show, without getting bogged down in their mechanics.
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Bob Dylan was back in town in November for the resumption of his 30-year-long “Endless Tower”.
December brought an arena explosion and other great concerts, including a mellow by James Taylor and Jackson Browne, and a higher decibel from Genesis.
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Even in a year where COVID numbers were rising and falling and going up and down and now again, most concert halls have continued to operate, and some new ones have even reached the region.
The Ace of Cups opened under a new owner, Howl at the Moon has returned to town – now in the Arena district – after more than 15 years, and the King of Clubs has opened on the mainland. All are holding on.
“I can’t complain,” said Ricky Wolf of the King of Clubs.
There are many places that remain decidedly positive about pop music in Greater Columbus.
“Sales are going well. Fortunately, it looks like a solid 2022, ”said Marissa McClellan, marketing director of PromoWest Productions, which runs Express Live and the Newport, as well as several smaller clubs.
“Ticket sales have been excellent,” said Gary O’Brien of Nationwide Arena and Value City Arena. “We’ve done 21 combined shows, including one at the Mershon Auditorium, since we took over.”
Under the optimism, it was not all sunny for pop music this year.
“Ticket sales have definitely increased since we started selling individual seats rather than socially remote table seats only,” said Charlie Jackson, of Natalie’s locations in Grandview and Worthington.
“But we continue to have shows canceled due to COVID. Group members test positive and have to reprogram, so sometimes we have empty nights because of it. The short answer is that ticket sales have improved, but we are still not where we were in terms of attendance before COVID. “