Coronavirus falls to Bowie Fever
Updated: Apr 30
Another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody
I got some money ’cause I just got paid
Now, how I wish I had someone to talk to
I’m in an awful way
Another Saturday Night — Sam Cooke
I’m lucky. One of the best small music clubs in the country is ten minutes from my house. The Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach has good drinks, a great sound system and a reputation so pristine that in the past two years its hosted everyone from the Foo Fighters, Lady Gaga and The Rolling Stones for private events to Lukas Nelson, Buddy Guy and tonight’s feature “A Bowie Celebration: Bowie Alumni play Diamond Dogs and Ziggy Stardust.”
Originally I bought eight tickets for this show, planning to use four and sell the others. That was months ago, and plans change. My friends who planned to go were in Hawaii. My significant other had her children tonight. As often happens, I was cooking. So, all the tickets were up for sale, but only six sold.
The show was called for 9 pm. Dinner and fireside post dinner drinks were done by 10 pm. As I drove the 3 miles to my house it occurred to me that in only five more minutes I could be at the Belly Up and catch the last bit of the Bowie show. Surely they’d play the good stuff at the end.
I was inside the door by 10:20. Security at the door was not expecting anyone else. The show had been running for more than an hour. They quickly rallied and found a scanner. My ticket scanned in without issue. The guy who walked in directly behind me was a different story. He had no ticket, and the event was sold out. I told him I had an extra, all I wanted was a beer. That was the best case conversion of an otherwise wasted ticket tonight. He got to see the last hour of the show and I was not thirsty.
If you’re following my writing, you know that I’ve recently published a story analyzing what, if anything, the effect of the Coronavirus will be on Coachella, and by extension the entire spring live music season. Here’s that story:
I was really curious how this event would look from inside. Answer: like every other event I’ve seen at Belly Up. I walked into a full house. The band was just starting Space Oddity, and the crowd was bouncing.
Here’s something else: half the room was bald or grey, no one had a mask — the only sign of any sort of facial protection was the smattering of hipster beards. The girls were as affectionate as ever with their dates and absolutely no one was following the CDC’s recommendation to keep six feet away from the person next to you. I followed my own protocol to protect myself from Coronavirus: start with a well experienced immune system and continuously disinfect yourself with whiskey. It’s not for everyone but it sure is fun.
At the end of the show I was thoroughly satisfied, and I’d only really seen the second half. If it’s coming to your town, go see it. All Bowie, all fun.
As to the fear of crowd borne illness or community spread: I’m pretty sure half the place left to go somewhere private and exchange all sorts of genetic material. No one there was hiding in the corner clutching disinfecting wipes. Most of us were drinking from glasses which may have seen a three minute run in a behind the bar high speed washer, but those glasses were then touched by both the bartender and the server at minimum.
We haven’t really had many people test positive in San Diego County — yet. Perhaps that will change behavior. But, while the texts are flying to my phone with people sending articles and comments about whether or whether not Coachella will cancel (yes, if the county or state intervenes so that they can collect their insurance under a theory of force majeure), I saw something else. People are growing tired of the daily barrage of bad news. It’s the same loop all day, every day. Tomorrow who knows — maybe Julian Assange will move to Northern Ireland and write a play with Mick Mulvaney. Everything’s the same until it isn’t.
When the country starts to shift, pay attention. There’s fear about this virus for sure. But, the pushback is coming. I saw it tonight: Yeah, I might catch the virus, but I also might have the night of my life. You could stay locked at home with your 30 year supply of Costco toilet paper, or you could live your life understanding that there is only one way it ends for us all. Bowie wrote the ending: Let’s Dance.
The universe always sends messages. It helps to listen. The band finished strong, with Heroes.
Though nothing, nothing will keep us together
We can beat them, for ever and ever
Oh we can be Heroes, just for one day
Heroes — David Bowie
Let me know what you think.
I’m a consultant advising leading companies in the live event space. If you are an investor, artist, promoter, team, producer, venue operator, primary or secondary market of ticketed events or have comments on this article, please don’t hesitate to contact me:
Copyrighted 2020 by Eric Fuller