The Star City Syndicate had a huge summer planned in 2020. We had about 12 gigs lined up all over Northern Maine – some of which were booked back in 2018. It was looking to be a lot of fun and quite busy… then Covid happened. All of sudden there was nothing. While this was for good reasons it was pretty sad for us musicians who really enjoy playing live (and imagine how it is for those musicians who depend on playing out for their income… sad stuff).
We had resigned ourselves to a gig-less summer until we were contacted by a local concert series event organizer with a cool idea – a socially distant concert! The concert would take place in a large parking lot where audience spots were sectioned off so people could enjoy the who while being spaced out. We played live but also sent the sound through a Radio Transmitter so that people could listen in their cars if they wanted.
As for the band itself we were placed on 3 trailer beds so we also could be spaced out while we play. The first trailer had our front line of singers and guitars on it. The second had drums, bass, piano, and saxophones, and the last trailer held the brass.
Now a note before this idea even came to be – Maine, and specifically our area of Maine, has been doing great at taking down the Covid numbers. Things were looking really good for Northern Maine and, just like all over the world, people were looking for a bit of normalcy. The whole band (all 19 of us) thought long about if we felt this was a good and safe idea before committing and we all did.
The warm up and sound check started normal enough. It felt great to play outside again doing what we loved to do. Even though it had been awhile (since January) since we had played a show this big it felt like we had never stopped. It just felt right. We were even comfortable enough to take our shoes off and just enjoy the experience!
We were ready, we were willing, we were excited to finally play! And then… rain. A whole ton of it! There was a low chance of storms all day and then suddenly a severe thunder storm warning happened in our area and it POURED. Now this may seem like common knowledge but in case you didn’t know musical instruments, especially electronics, and rain don’t mix. Luckily one of our band members had a bunch of tarps in his truck and we quickly scurried to cover the entire set up to try to protect the many thousands of dollars of equipment. At least the storm seemed to pass right about when we were supposed to actually start the concert and we began playing with the view of rainbows in the distance. A happy ending?
Nope. Two songs into the set the skies opened up again. We quickly grabbed the tarps and covered the stage (and chased down the sound person’s tent which blew away) for another downpour. Luckily, this also passed in a few minutes but it did damage some of our equipment. Side note – a Yamaha Keyboard (#notsponsored) can become completely full of water, turned over to drain out, and continue to play a two our set mostly good as new. This was the end of the rain for the night and we played to a still pretty full parking lot for the rest of our concert.
Was this this the dream gig for us to get back out playing? Certainly not. Was it worth it? Absolutely. It brought good spirits to our community and to ourselves. It was an innovative way to approach live music in the age of Covid and even if it were the only live show we play this year it was nothing less than an awesome, memorable, and wet night.