The short-term pain of a state-wide COVID-19 lockdown is beginning to ease across Western Australia.
As the People’s Republic of Victoria teeters on absolute catastrophe, with NSW seemingly on a similar path, WA is facing a much brighter short-term future.
While the planned implementation of phase 5 (lifting of all restrictions except the hard border and access to remote Aboriginal communities) of WA’s COVID-19 roadmap to recovery has been pushed back to 15 August, light is at the end of the tunnel is beaming.
Whether it’s crowds back at the footy, WA Unlocked featuring Crooked Colours, Shockone and Lumberjack selling out HBF Stadium last weekend, live music venues springing back to life across Perth and Fremantle, or Drapht and Spacey Jane touring regional centres
, the WA public is fangin’ to attend live music and sporting events.
“It’s fantastic,” says Luke Rinaldi of Sweet Mate Music (venue booker for venues such as Badlands Bar and Lyric’s Underground).
“Punters are planning much more, and as a result are buying pre-sale tickets more than pre-COVID, and the limited capacities have been forcing people to get more organised.”
Enforced social-distancing practices have also seen a change to how music lovers consume live shows.
“At first here everyone had to be seated,” Luke says, “that was unusual, but actually a pretty good experience, and a great chance to experiment with that format for a couple of the venues.
“Now that’s not mandatory, it’s really like a standard show except there’s a bit more room.”
“I think we are feeling a lot more love as a venue,” adds Mark Neal, booking agent at The Sewing Room. “There is more love and support in the air.
“People are still being cautious and that added level of safety and concern is mutual between event and the attendees. We are still operating at a reduced capacity and people have a lot more space to feel comfortable in.”
As the giant wheels of business slowly creak back to life, the return of live shows and audiences has obviously been a welcome relief for venues. “It is a huge relief to be back,” Mark says.
“It was a pretty scary time and there was a lot of concerns for the business, the staff, the contractors we employ, and the artists that we host.
“We know we aren’t out of the woods yet, we’ve got some catching up to do, and the effects of being shutdown for so long are going to take a while to come back from. But seeing the audience and artists return has lifted our spirits in a big way.”
With only five active cases of coronavirus statewide and almost three months since the last WA fatality attributed to COVID-19 (it’s been 70 days since the last ICU patient), Premier McGowan’s stance on maintaining WA’s hard border with the rest of the country could be the political move of 2020.
But what does it mean for interstate acts and bands looking to head west. “We’ve tuned up the backline and put a fresh coat of paint in the green room,” Mark says.
“We are mentally and emotionally prepared to get more touring DJs and bands back at The Sewing Room and as soon as it is safe to do so, we will be partying together.”
“For Badlands Bar, most of the touring acts that were playing in March, April and May when COVID hit rescheduled to late Oct/ Nov/ Dec,” Luke says.
“So they’re booked – whether they actually end up coming in now a lot cloudier, and possibly even depends on which state they’re coming from.”
While elbow bumps are here to stay and maintaining physical distancing practices is still actively encouraged as well as practising good personal hygiene (20 seconds really isn’t that long when there’s so much at stake) and staying home if you feel unwell (we all have a part to play), life is almost back to normal.