Saturday, August 15, 2020

'I feel like I'm failing at life': the terrible plight of music event staff | The Guardian

The pandemic has shut down concert tours – and with them go thousands of jobs in sound, lighting, catering and more. As the industry lobbies the government, road crews tell their stories

Edd Sedgwick is a sound engineer and tour manager who normally works for the Vaccines, but with that group having long planned to take 2020 off, he was preparing to go on the road with Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien. Then, as the coronavirus crisis worsened, he got a call: “Put everything on hold for the rest of the year.” Sedgwick’s life emptied out. “The weirdest thing is knowing every day by its date or the day of the week – so you call a day ‘Monday’ instead of ‘Barcelona’ or ‘Milan’.”

You can apply Sedgwick’s experience across the live music industry: thousands of workers suddenly learned their working year had ended in March. Tre Stead, for example, is Frank Turner’s tour manager. She was in the last week of Turner’s European tour when the world began to fall apart. They plugged on until Donald Trump intervened, with three shows left. “We had three Americans on the crew, and then Trump did his travel ban.” Faced with the prospect of being stranded in Europe indefinitely, the Americans – with Turner’s blessing – flew home. “And that’s when Frank decided it was the end.”

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