East Coast Blizzard Set to Dump on Your Concert Plans
It looks like a lot of music fans' weekend concert plans will be shut down, at least for those living in much of the Eastern U.S., as a massive blizzard slams a wide swath of the country today.
Among the major Northeastern cities expected to be hammered are New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C., where the federal government has already announced that its offices won't be open today and the subway system will be closed for the weekend. The city's 9:30 Club has Grace Potter booked for a double this weekend.
Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina are already being hit with snow, sleet and freezing rain, but the country's Northeastern corridor is expected to take the brunt of the storm's wrath.
"We are making preparations with each of our venues and artists for a variety of contingencies as we track the storm path," says Mark Shulman, senior VP for AEG Live, based in New York, which has scores of shows booked in the region for this weekend, including a three-night stand by Umphrey's McGee at the Beacon Theatre in New York.
"There is no one-size-fits-all solution," says Shulman regarding the many factors in play that dictate whether a show comes off or not in wicked winter weather. This storm will affect 75 million people. "We take into consideration that a show in a New York City venue which may remain fully accessible via mass transit can move forward as planned, as opposed to a suburban venue which relies on fans arriving in cars. The safety of the fans, employees, and artists is paramount, but if we can check all those boxes, ‘the show must go on.'"
Of course, the artist has to be able to get to the venue in the first place, as the touring industry is, at its heart, a transportation business. There is a reason why January-February is the touring industry's lightest period. Still, in cities that have not already been shut down for the weekend by governing bodies, shows like the Jackson Browne concert tonight in Asheville, N.C. is now postponed due to the State of Emergency declared by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory. With the big buildings heavily booked with sports tenants and family shows, Q1 is generally an off-season for arena-level touring acts, and those major acts that are on the road tend to be in warmer climes.
Shulman tells Billboard that he knew of no other cancellations or postponements at this point, but adds, "as we get more updates from the weather services and consult with local agencies, that is subject to change."
UPDATE NO. 1: Live Nation told Billboard that events scheduled for Friday are moving ahead as planned, but that they will continue to monitor the situation. At least one concert scheduled for Saturday -- Lamb of God at NYC's Hammerstein Ballroom -- has been moved to Monday. Said Sean Striegel, Live Nation's svp in charge of New York and New Jersey clubs and theatres: "When you talk about a band that a majority of the ticket sales are coming from the suburbs, we took into consideration not just how bad the snow is, but what will transportation look like? What will the condition of the roads be? We know that inside the venue those that attended would be subject to an amazing show, but getting there could not only be difficult, but dangerous."
UPDATE NO. 2: Dennis DeYoung, scheduled for Saturday at the Paramount in Huntington, Long Island has been postponed to February 25, 2016.
Robert Earl Keen at Irving Plaza on Saturday (Jan. 23) has been postponed to a forthcoming date in April.
The Hillsong Church will not be holding services at Irving Plaza, The Hammerstein Ballroom and the Wellmont in Montclair, NJ on Sunday.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned for more updates...