Isolation and Creation

The Future of Live Music


With the rise of the Coronavirus Pandemic, we have been forced to retreat into the safety of our homes (for those of us who are able to), and limit our social gatherings and events. This has turned the world we were accustomed to upside down, trading lunch meetings with Zoom meetings, and Friday nights out with Friday nights in. As we struggle to adapt to what most are calling “the new normal,”musicians struggle to adjust to a world without live music.

Live music has had a strong foothold in society, helping to define generations. Without this outlet, musicians and fans alike have stormed the internet to both create and digest content that cannot be consumed in the same manner as pre-pandemic times. Musicians have been forced to greatly adjust their tactics and methods of creation in order to answer the one major question plaguing musicians and artists alike: “How do we convey the same feeling of a live show to a virtual audience?” While there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction, many musicians have taken on the challenge in order to continue the process of creation and consumption.

Both Vilray and Chris Thile, musicians slated to perform this summer at Caramoor, happily shared their own experiences navigating the pandemic-altered music industry.

Chris Thile

Chris Thile (July 18, 7:00pm)

Instead of a general Q&A, Chris felt that his thoughts would better evolve via a phone call. Chris spent his quarantine engaging audiences of his show,LiveFromHere,via livestream through various platforms. Having very little experience in the digital domain, Chris faced a steep learning curve involved with social media. A self-described “acoustic musician”, he vowed he would not continue on social media at the same pace post pandemic. With a newfound prowess with Instagram Live, he found it fascinating that the audience can comment on the stream in real time. This unique aspect of the digital music age, provides something not normally seen in the “live music” world.

Besides livestreaming, Chris spent a lot of time listening and absorbing all he could, so he could incorporate as many genre specific subtleties into his own music and life. “I’m just trying to listen, it’s the name of the game for us musicians. I’m listening to the world in a way that I haven’t in a while.”Besides learning to be a better listener, Chris, the self-described “pathological optimist,” had a few hopeful lessons for us all to take away from this pandemic. “Something we will all learn from this is how desperately we crave each other’s company and input. Life is lived collaboratively. One piece of advice from Chris that can be applied to all during this time of immobility and anxiety, is that we can only work on the things we have direct control over. To needlessly worry about the future of life post-pandemic, will only increase stress and ultimately prove to be fruitless.

Chris is thrilled to grace the stage of Caramoor on July 18 to kick off our 20/2.0 summer season. As with all of us affected by the pandemic, Chris cannot begin to imagine the joy he will feel being able to perform again. Stating that “aspects of it will feel surreal and that its going to feel like camping.”

Rachael & Vilray

Vilray, of Rachael &Vilray (July 25 at 8:00pm) 

  • How have you been engaging with audiences without the presence of live shows? (Livestreams, Digital Content, etc.)
    • I have been writing songs and playing them for a live audience on Instagram. So far for whatever reason I have been slightly more productive where writing is concerned. Mostly the songs are reflections on aspects of being locked away. Some droll, some with shades of sadness. I just released an original single, a classic-Country inflected lament called “Here I Lie” about news of the world trickling into your home and having to sort out what to do with it alone, a bit helpless.
    • I hope listeners are reminded of the magic of live music and original music. Rachael and I are so excited to get on a stage and play a show together again.
  • How difficult was it for you to adapt to this unfamiliar environment for performing arts? Did you learn any skills from having to adapt?
    • Learning which elements of a good show translate to the new venue-less reality has been a process! The broad strokes are still there: I can still sing and be heard when I present content digitally, I can get some feedback in the comments section, but obviously singing in your living room and being heard in a hundred other living rooms will never have the beautiful interplay one gets in an ordinary live concert. I, like everyone, am aching to get back to “normal” when that can be done safely. 
  • Do you think this pandemic will have a permanent effect on live music?
    • I am hopeful that this will inspire people to be out more once “being out” is an option again. I personally expect people will at least be out as much as they ever were. I think it’s pretty clear so far that people are resistant to becoming homebodies one second longer than they have to be. It’s tragic right now as the pandemic is very much ongoing and folks are jumping the gun in their rush to socialize, but it’s also a relief that humans are not being “recoded” to sit on their couches forevermore once this is passed.
  • What do you think live music will look like when it returns?
    • I hope it thrives! I hope eventually there are 10 million new venues packed every night to host a 100 million new acts, and being a musician is as lucrative as being a grocery worker in the new economy that pays people for their essential work. Amen.
  • Do you think this pandemic will have a permanent effect on live music?
    • It’s hard to know if the effect will be “everyone goes out a lot now!” or “no one really goes out anymore,” once the vaccine or anti-viral puts this behind us. I think technology is usually a bigger disruption than worldwide traumas. The radio changed the music business way more than the 1918 pandemic.
  • Can you share any unforeseen positive outcomes of performing for livestream audiences as opposed to in-person?
    • Recording from home has been a great opportunity to gear up with better microphones and pre-amps and the like. Been pretty bad for my wallet for the same reasons, but every business needs to invest from time to time. I hope listeners are reminded of the magic of live music and original music.

What now?

While our lives are plagued with uncertainty, this difficult period of time will end. The question is, how will we define our time apart? While we can take this time to relax and reconnect with family and friends, we should look to grow and learn. Recognize gratitude, in the time we can spend with those we cherish. Most importantly, look to music, as art only grows stronger when life becomes arduous. Rest assured, Caramoor is taking all precautions this summer in order to safely welcome back audiences. While it will feel different, Caramoor is glad to offer a safe respite and haven for music.

Click here to see our calendar of events for this summer

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