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News October 19, 2020

Ruby Fields’ manager on live music restrictions amid COVID: ‘Punters will get fatigue’

Ruby Fields’ manager on live music restrictions amid COVID: ‘Punters will get fatigue’

Ruby Fields has turned a pretty grim year into pretty creative one. But the road ahead is a tricky one for every Australian artist trying to make a buck from gigs. The winners will be nimble.

That’s the verdict of manager Aaron Girgis, whose indie rock outfit has just completed a sold-out run of five shows at Woombarra Bowling Club in New South Wales.

Watch Ruby Fields at Woombarra Bowling Club:

Playing to a capacity of 200 people per show, Ruby Fields performed under a makeshift marquee, a last-minute addition as the weather turned sour.

Supporting her warmly-received new single ‘Pretty Grim’ Ruby Fields felt right at home playing a three-night stand in their own neighbourhood, a spot nestled between mountains and the ocean.

“It felt very organic,” Girgis adds. “It really felt like the return of live music with a festival like atmosphere. A quintessential Australian gig, outdoors, on the green.”

Stream Ruby Fields’ ‘Pretty Grim’:

Live music has returned, with a caveat. Restrictive, capacity-capped COVIDsafe protocols are here for the time being. And they’re a real drag.

“They are going to get pretty boring pretty fast if it’s another 12 months of it. Punters are going to get fatigue,” explains Girgis, founder of Space 44. “Bands are going to have to re-imagine their sets and how they deliver their set lists. It’s a different experience as a punter now.”

For those cities fortunate to have live entertainment, the experience right now includes bans on dancing in venues and social distancing.

On the notion of retooled, post-COVID performances, Girgis continues, “I don’t have the answer yet on how to do it but that will come with trial and error and we are a creative industry of creatives and amazing artists and bands who will nail this.”

There’s no timeline on a wind-back of restrictions or entry into Australian borders.

At best, promoters say, international acts will be locked out from playing Australia until mid-year 2021.

Watch Ruby Fields’ ‘Dinosaurs’:

It’s a full-blown bummer for fans and the industry, but there’s a clear opportunity for homegrown acts to take advantage.

“For the smaller bands they can thrive here and hit the road and crush it,” notes Girgis.

“For bigger established bands it’s going to be hard to play five shows of limited cap seating in a row just to break even on production as they can’t skip on costs for production, gear and crew. Fans expect world-class shows from these level of bands and they want to give them that.”

NSW is gearing-up for the ambitious 1,000-date state-wide festival Great Southern Nights, a raised middle figure to the pandemic which has ruined the live industry.

Girgis knows the challenges that await. His management clients Skegss were among the first artists to perform after NSW came out of a heavy lock-down.

The biggest headaches from those shows? Ensuring numbers were within restriction limits, checking in punters and seating plans were among them.

“Those shows definitely had its fair share of challenges,” notes Girgis. “But if you follow the rules and law,” he adds, “the gigs can happen relatively hassle free.”

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.

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