Guest Editorial: A Return to Normalcy – Music Edition

By Alexander Lomax

Life certainly isn’t back to normal. We all have had enough normal-ish experiences, but everyday life sort of resembles Canada; a lot of similarities but nearly everything is slightly yet noticeably different. One thing that is nowhere close to normalcy is the live music scene, which has been destroyed by Covid for obvious reasons. But are we recapturing this aspect of our lives? It is on the horizon, it would seem.

Believe it or not, there are actually a few festivals going forward this month. Party promoter Relentless Beats is being a bit of a trailblazer on that end, with two shows planned for the month. I use the term “trailblazer” with special trepidation, as I’m not convinced of the safety of large groups in one space yet, but someone has to take the risk (and I assume that they have a robust insurance policy). They are bringing ‘90’s California rock heroes Sublime to the Valley, along with another edition of their Wet Electric Festival. Their typical attendees are young and indestructible, so my greatest hope is that their older family members are already vaccinated since I doubt that it is front of mind for many who will be attending.

Chandler had a much wiser idea for its 21st annual jazz festival, happening at the time of writing this; to decentralize it and put it in 4 different spaces to reduce crowd sizes in one particular area. I recognize and value their risk mitigation attempts, even if it’s not quite the return to normalcy we’d all like. Highlands Church in Scottsdale is being similarly safe as it brings the Kingston Trio to town this month: mandatory masks and distancing.

The bigger Arizona festivals have been appropriately respectful of the potential headline risk and have pushed off any events, but it seems as though there has been a glimmer of hope to that end recently. McDowell Mountain Music Festival is Arizona’s gem of a music festival and typically runs in March. Its 2020 session was pretty much the last good time in Arizona before the pandemic, and while its 2021 iteration was pushed off, they intend to come back in November of this year. I can’t guarantee that post-pandemic festivals will provide the same experience as before, but if you haven’t been to MMMF, I highly recommend it. You could know zero of the bands in the lineup but will undoubtedly discover a few new favorites.

So rejoice, my fellow middle-aged friends who can’t quite let go of your youth. Soon enough you will once again be able to complain about there being too many people, that the beer is too expensive, that your back hurts…and soon, you’ll be able to beat the traffic again. I hope you savor it from now on, now that you know what it’s like to lose it.