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'Music is everything.' A look at the future of live concerts as the industry emerges from pandemic restrictions

Posted at 6:47 AM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 06:47:28-04

It’s home to heavy metal in Detroit—but the pulsating beat and raging, distorted guitar licks at Harpos were silenced during the pandemic—along with the music at every other venue across the city and state.

“Well, music is everything," Ruzvelt Stevanovski, owner of Harpos. "I mean, if you don’t have music, it’s like being practically dead, man. You gotta have those live events.”

Harpos is a landmark on Detroit's east side.

“It’s been very, very stressful and very hard," Stevanovski said. "Honestly, bills keep going, ya know, they don’t stop.”

But the revenue did, with the state shutdown and restrictions in place.

Eighteen months after his last show, Stevanovski is finally taking a small step back. Corey Taylor, formerly of Slipknot and Stone Sour, will take the stage at Harpos on June 11.

“Basically, financially, it does not make sense to do an event but it’s Corey Taylor. I cannot say no to Corey Taylor," Stevanovski said. "He loves the venue plus I want to be the first one to have a major artist back here and everybody’s anxious to come back to the live concerts.”

Pods will be utilized for the show. Groups of six people will be socially distanced with masks still a requirement.

The pod concept is also being used for outdoor shows that are already attracting crowds in downtown Pontiac.

Dan McGowan of Crofoot Presents – another independent promoter – has turned a city parking lot into a music venue for weekend shows.

“We’re creating a socially distant, outdoor concert experience," McGowan said. "So, it’s safe, because you’re at least 6 ½ feet away from other customers.”

The future for live events

“When you buy a ticket, you’re welcome to bring a total of four or six people per pod, and beyond that, it’s a pretty standard concert experience,” he added.

It certainly looks that way from above, and McGowan says they have gotten good feedback on the initial shows. Both from fans and those finally performing again in front of a live audience.

“Artists are hungry to work so there’s all kinds of different musicians coming out of the woodwork who want to perform in settings like this,” McGowan said.

McGowan adds that he has concerts booked through July and that his team is working daily to add more. The big promoters are also busy announcing shows. He also says, now that pandemic restrictions are being removed, he will open up future shows to full capacity, but will honor the pod concept for shows for which tickets have already been sold.

Liquid Stranger show at the Crofoot Festival Grounds, May 8
Liquid Stranger show at the Crofoot Festival Grounds, May 8

Dan McGowan is hopeful – but cautious.

“I’m optimistic and I think most promoters are," he said. "We’re ready to go but time will tell from a health standpoint, you know, what the future looks like."