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Lockdown Concerts: How Remote Can You Go?

Our first concert during the lockdown, limited to the 75 people that the state allowed, was just what the doctor might have ordered: socially-distanced fun and a great mental health break for both the audience and the musicians. How to top that? On to October 11, 2020. The size of outdoor gatherings had just been raised to 150 people, but we still felt the need to be in stealth mode: one screw-up that the press got wind of and it would be all over. It was still an email-list only affair, and capped at 130, just in case a few extras showed up. Indeed, the final count was 147. Phew.

But with the 150 limit, it called for a hot band that could be spontaneous, entertaining, play really great music, have a great sense of humor, and put up with less-than-ideal hospitality. More on that in a bit. Oh, and they also had to be really cool with the idea of being out in the middle of nowhere. The choices narrowed quickly down to a personal favorite, Damn Tall Buildings.

The location? Behind that gate in the picture above. And down a long dirt road next to a beautiful river. A road that most cars couldn't get down, so most had to walk. And a location that had to be kept secret, as it was off-limits to the general public, as it was being held by an angel investor while the local land trust raised the money to purchase it. So the concert was to show off the place, hopefully attracting a few donations (it did) and satisfying the angel's desire to have a really fun concert on the property before it was turned over to the trust. Its ecological significance made it clear that the property would be closed to the public for most periods of time in the future due to species nesting habitats. (Eventually, it will be open periodically after the wildlife surveys are complete).

The remoteness of the location meant one important detail had to be left out of the picture: porta-potties. Keep in mind at this time most indoor facilities were still closed so while locals could use their bathrooms, Max, Sasha and Montana had to drive from Brooklyn. Anyway, we ferried people who couldn't make the walk down the road, but most were into the fact they had to hike to the concert. It was truly an adventure, and the entire sound system and concert paraphernalia were loaded into the back of the pickup.

We got lucky with two things: we were able to get a tractor down to the meadow before the show to mow the area where the audience would sit, and the weather was cool but perfect. The scene was perfect.

One year earlier, and people would have thought we were nuts. Dragging all the sound equipment a half mile into a remote meadow, asking a band to drive to a location with no facilities for a concert during a pandemic, then telling people they had to walk a half-mile, carry all of their own chairs and food and drinks, and then pay to get in? Seriously?? But after 7 months of being cooped up, it was the most fun imaginable.

It was Damn Tall Buildings first performance since lockdown, and they only had a couple of days to try to rehearse. Their neighborhood in Brooklyn was a ghost town. It felt like the end of the earth. It was also maybe the most rewarding concert we ever did. After the show, we sprinted back to our house so they could use the bathrooms (finally) order up some pizza and head down to the beach to enjoy some dinner. Again, thanks to Amy Etra for the great photos. At the very end I'm adding a video from the show, their last number of the day. The performance is obviously a little rough thanks to the no-rehearsals for close to a year, but did it ever catch the spirit of the day. Damn Tall Buildings rocks.


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