COVID-19 has forced drummer Isaiah Gibbons and other musicians to find new ways of performing.
“This new way of living was a learning curve in the beginning,” said Gibbons, a freelance musician and producer from Mississauga.
During the summer, when COVID-19 restrictions were more relaxed, Gibbons continued doing traditional performances with slight changes.
“My first big show was a drive-in show, it was a cool experience, but it was weird with all the cars as the audience. We had to wear masks during soundcheck, but got to take it off while playing,” Gibbons said.
The graduate from Humber College’s Bachelor of Music program started performing at weddings early on in the pandemic.
“I did a couple of weddings up north, it wasn’t anything too crazy, we had to wear a mask the entire time,” he said.
However, doing performances as intimate as weddings does come with some shortcomings.
“People couldn’t get up and dance, we had to create our own energy. Also, trying to play with a mask on was a learning curve since I’d start to sweat and breathe harder. It was something I had to get used to,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons wasn’t the only person doing virtual performances. Andre Anthony, a Toronto rapper, has been doing virtual concerts as well.
“I would do Instagram Lives and Zoom concerts, I’d also just perform at home and post it on YouTube,” Anthony said.
Anthony preferred to do in-person concerts, but concluded virtual concerts were the closest he could get to normal performance with pandemic restrictions.
Those who attend the concerts tend to show energy through the comments as well as interacting, he said.
“The comments would be flooded with positive comments. It’s like a tidal wave of warmth during these weird times,” Anthony said.
Curbside Concerts provide the opportunity to book an artist and enjoy a concert socially distanced from their front lawns.
Laurel Tubman, a freelance musician in Toronto, has been on Curbside Concert’s roster for anyone to book through their website.
“As a working live musician, COVID-19 really put a damper on everything I do. I had dozens of gigs to date that has been postponed or outright cancelled,” Tubman said.
Curbside Concerts were started by a musician who found himself out of work when all concert venues closed. When she reached out to be a part of Curbside Concerts, Tubman saw the opportunity as a gift.
“The pandemic played a role in my decision to do Curbside Concerts. I miss performing. It’s who I am and what I do,” Tubman said.
When it comes to in-person shows, Gibbons has noticed options will still be slim in the coming months. Though he plans to put his focus elsewhere.
“It’s pretty sparse for gigs right now, so I plan to delve into working on my brand and my studio. Also, working with others remotely is what I’m doing,” Gibbons said.
Anthony plans to stay with his digital concerts until the pandemic subsides.
Tubman plans to keep doing bookings and said Curbside Concerts is a great first step to providing live music.