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The COVID-19 pandemic touched nearly every aspect of life, perhaps none more personal to some than the live music experience. But it's good to miss things as it means we're no longer taking them for granted.
Following a recent trip to Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I'm happy to report that the live music experience is all the way back and just as fulfilling as it was 28 months ago.
It remains something worth traveling for.
Pretty much everything went away in March 2020 but as places and things began to reopen or come back, including outdoor dining at bars and restaurants, gyms, shopping malls and even live sports, concerts were still relegated to streaming events.
There was never a question about a future without music, of course, and while much was made about how in-person concerts and events may never be the same, it was only a matter of time before we got back to sold-out arenas and live festivals. The question was would people still sacrifice the time and money to travel to attend these events?
Well, the time has come and the answer is yes.
The live music industry was brought to its knees two years ago-in May 2020, the World Economic Forum reported that even a six-month shutdown could cost the industry more than $10 billion in sponsorships-but it was never truly in peril as we humans are inherently social creatures. Artists and their fans certainly suffered and yearned to connect but it was always going to be temporary.
As many musicians have recounted, this too shall pass.
And here we are. Dubbed the World's Largest Music Festival, Summerfest dates back to 1968-that's one year prior to Woodstock-and features a dozen stages spread throughout downtown Milwaukee's Henry Maier Festival Park adjacent to Lake Michigan showcasing hundreds of performances featuring any and every genre of music you can think of.
There are also amazing food and drink vendors, shops, contests, games and other entertainment. Not wanting to miss out, my girlfriend and I went back-to-back nights on the final weekend to see some of our favorite acts in the lineup, including Milky Chance, Portugal. The Man, JoJo and the Backstreet Boys. Even post-pandemic, music remains subjective.
The performances were amazing but the point is that they could have been lackluster and it wouldn't have mattered. Nothing tops hearing your favorite songs performed right in front of you.
It's still something worth traveling for.
Two weeks from now, Lollapalooza will take over Chicago's Grant Park for four straight days and hundreds of thousands of people will take part. Many of those people will have traveled many miles to see it. The live festival is back.
A Maryland native and wanderer who has lived across the U.S. from North Carolina to SoCal, Patrick Clarke graduated from Towson...
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