“Dear party animals, we won’t dance together in 2020”. That’s how thousands of festivals and venues across the world announced the cancellation of the festival season and all live shows to come, and the whole industry was forced into hiatus. Or putting it simply: The pandemic obliterated the 2020 festival season and almost shattered the live music scene. Now, five months after the outbreak and after too many online shows and live streams, venues slowly, slowly start to put on shows again although with limited capacity and seated audiences.
Messed!Up’s Gothenburg branch started already in July and with the arrival of August, venues on our home turf Hamburg revived the live music scene with limited capacity at different St Pauli venues. And then Stadtpark Open Air returned with large-scaled socially distanced shows, starting with German popstar LEA popping by Hamburg on her “Treppenhaus Tour“, a completely sold-out show and a sign that people have missed live music in a live setting together with other people. But is it really possible to enjoy live music far from mosh pits, wave dancing and the drunk dudes crowdsurfing while kicking you in the head whether you want it or not while being stuck in your seat? We sent Ms EyesClosed to Stadtpark to find out.
For a start, LEA couldn’t have better conditions for a show. She’s the first to do a bigger show, having a fairly new album out and being able to tour the album, being blessed with a super hot summer day, and performing in a completely sold-out Stadtpark where the temperature forced people to take off their shows to air their sweaty feet. We may or may not have overheard someone saying “Thank God for the mask”.
Apparently LEA had a blast and acted a bit like when farmers release the cows in the spring after spending the whole winter season indoors – nervous, playful and having a great deal of fun at the same time. The second song bears witness of it all when LEA starts to laugh and the band have to restart, but it’s also part of the overall feeling of the show: she’s having loads of fun being on stage with her band again – and that’s nothing but super charming.?
One tiny problem with a seated audience is of course how to feed off the energy created oin the interaction between bands on stage and people hanging halfway over the security fence. Social distance rules effectively stopped any close relation between LEA and her fans but she did go on a walk through the crowd to be closer to her fans, and people in the seating areas in the back got off their seats for some dancing when “Kennst du das” starts. And all those who didn’t dance? They just engaged in large-scaled wave dancing making the whole Stadtpark look like a giant wave of human hands in the air (yes, we have ample of videos), and we’re just sorry that our Ms K, the queen of wave dance, wasn’t at the show.
The show changed character after a few songs; while the band left the stage for a break and refreshing beverages, LEA offered us a moment of intimacy with the piano song “Rückenwind” about her loved ones who helped her through her first breakup, and for the first time, there was a singalong moment at Stadtpark. Still solo on stage she played the amazing and emotionally dazzling “Elefant“, and admitted that it was one of the most beautiful moments of her life to play the song live for the Stadtpark audience. It doesn’t matter that she forgot the words to her new song “Heimweh nach wir” and had to restart twice (until Fred the drummer brought her the song lyrics), she had already won people’s hearts.
A fun moment was before LEA plays “7 Stunden”. She read out a message from social media by a thoughtful fan and said that the audience thinks more about her lyrics than she does. “Do you mean you’d drive seven hours back and forth in total, or seven hours for each way? Because that would be disproportionate!”. That’s what you have to deal with when you have die-hard fans, but she loved it and encouraged her fans to continue leaving her comments.
There’s a tension building up the longer the show lasts and towards the end of the evening, everyone was on their feet dancing but in a respectful social distancing way. And LEA? She visibly seemed to have had one of her best live moments ever in her career and we’re sure that the audience at Stadtpark share that experience – because this was the moment when people finally were free from isolation and could experience live music as music should be experienced.
If this is what shows look like during a pandemic, it’s a viable alternative for the pop genre, even if it’s not quite the same with people having to stay at their seats. But when you have artists as LEA on stage it doesn’t really matter; singalong moments and wave dancing work just as good as under normal conditions.