In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak and amid a plethora of cancelled shows and tours, many Scottish venues are closing for the foreseeable future.
Electronic music education festival Soma Skool and Maximum Pressure has been postponed until September, while Counterflows won’t take place until 2021. The Radio One Big Weekend in Dundee, featuring among others Biffy Clyro and Calvin Harris, is off, as is the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival
As well as the CCA and its Saramago cafe, a quartet of vegan venues – Stereo, Mono, Edinburgh’s Harmonium (also crowdfunding), and The 78 – will also close for now, as will Monorail Music, although it is now expanding its online presence, while its food/music sister venue has also launched a crowdfunding campaign in support of its staff.
However, despite Record Store Day being postponed until June 20th, LoveMusic in Glasgow and Elvis Shakespeare in Edinburgh are among shops remaining open for physical business – but with both ramping up their mail order activities.
And many of these under-threat establishments are finding creative ways to secure their future and pay staff now unable to work conventional shifts.
Among these is Glasgow’s Hug and Pint, which has launched a crowdfunding campaign which will offer various items of merchandise – T-shirts, mugs, etc – for sale. The Great Western Road venue has also moved into food deliveries with The Hug at Home which will allow local punters to have acclaimed vegan, Asian-themed meals dropped off at their homes.
Glasgow’s Broadcast is remaining open, but has also launched a slightly different new form of business, perhaps with cancelled shows and potential loss of business in mind – a Patreon campaign which will allow subscribers to listen to music-themed podcasts where interviews with bands and engineers will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the Sauchiehall Street venue.
Musical establishments of all sizes have announced their intention to shut up shop for the foreseeable future – ranging from Dundee’s Rep Theatre and Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree, to Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh, which has also launched a crowdfunding campaign to help it retain staff. Henry’s Cellar Bar has similarly appealed for assistance, in return for merch and gig entry once this whole thing has blown over…
However, not all venues have closed completely – Bloc+ in Glasgow’s Bath? Street will remain open until further notice, and Nice n Sleazy has announced that it will not shut down just yet, although it has cut back its opening hours to later in the day.
Many venues have expressed the view that government should order the closure of entertainments venues rather than simply advising it, in the hope that this could trigger insurance payments which could ensure the businesses’ survival, and a petition exists demanding this. And The Music Venue Trust has asked that the Festival of Britain, set for 2022, should be cancelled and the money saved spent on saving grassroots music venues.
And while gigs and tours are being canceled now, two rather contrasting Scots acts defied virus fears – and came under fore for doing so. Chart-topper Lewis Capaldi is continuing with his North American tour, while punk veterans The Exploited vocalist Wattie Buchan, said of their Australia and New Zealand tour: “Fuck coronavirus! I have had 5 heart attacks a quad heart bypass and a heart pacemaker fitted. Cancel gigs for a virus? We ain’t fucking Green Day!”, adding “Punk’s not dead!”