When Eli Young Band’s manager George Couri first proposed the band play a live show in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the quartet’s Mike Eli thought it was a “crazy idea.”
But as Couri explained further, Eli and his bandmates warmed to the idea. On June 4, Eli Young Band will be the first of four acts to play consecutive drive-in concerts at the Globe Life Field Stadium, home of the the Texas Rangers, in Arlington, Texas. Should the events be successful, several concerts may be held at the venue weekly.
The concerts, which go on sale Friday, will also feature Whiskey Myers (June 5), Pat Green (June 6) and Josh Abbott Band & Kevin Fowler (June 7) under the brand Concert In Your Car. The acts, all clients of Couri and partner Bruce Kalmick’s Triple 8 management company, will play on a stage set up in a section of the parking lot while fans will watch from the socially distant safety of their cars.
The shows are capped at 400 cars with every other parking space left open. Tickets, available through texasrangers.com/concertinyourcar starting Friday (May 15), are $40 per car and must be purchased in advance and will be be scanned through the closed car window upon entry. The shows, which will last an hour each, will be heard through the attendees’ car radios by dialing into a specific FM frequency available only onsite.
In an effort to make the shows as contact-free as possible, no concessions or merchandise will be sold on site. Ticket scanners, parking attendants and security will all wear personal protective equipment and bathroom attendants will allow only one person into the facilities as a time with the bathrooms’ surfaces disinfected after each use. Fans must stay inside their cars and will not be allowed to sit outside their car or in a truck bed.
The move comes as artists, promoters and venues are eager to bring back live music. Denmark and Germany began holding drive-in concerts last month and Live Nation has said it will promote a four-city tour in Denmark this month and next featuring a number of popular Danish acts. Live Nation president/CEO Michael Rapino said he hopes to roll out drive in concerts in the U.S. this summer.
Couri said he began planning the shows seven weeks ago after noticing that drive-in movie theaters were seeing an uptick in business. His company had done projects with the Rangers before, including an Academy of Country Music Awards 50th anniversary special and festivals with the Eli Young Band, so he called the Rangers’ organization and the local authorities and began going through every single question about how to put on the shows and make them as safe as possible. “It took about a month to get the final pieces in place and for the local authorities to sign off,” he says.
The Rangers are donating the stadium rent-free for the test run and the potential $16,000 gross will cover the hard costs to pay personnel on site, the reduced cost of the production and the acts, who are playing for far below their normal fees. Two Rangers’ sponsors also came on board to defray costs.
“We are thrilled to partner with Triple 8 Management and this impressive slate of national recording artists to bring the QuikTrip Concert in Your Car presented by Energy Transfer to Globe Life Field,” said Sean Decker, the Rangers’ executive vp, sports & entertainment, in a statement. “While keeping the safety of our fans at the forefront, this event provides the first unique opportunity for fans to experience live entertainment in a newly envisioned environment.”
To protect the acts, all bands will play acoustically with members standing at least six feet from each other and minimal crew members will be used. By design, all four acts are from Texas with the farthest coming from Austin. “None of these people have to take 12-hour bus rides or airplanes to get there. We didn’t want anyone to travel a great distance,” Couri says. He adds that shows are insured by the Rangers, but did not offer further details.
If the shows go well—and with no baseball games on the books for now— Couri envisions up to four shows a night at Globe Life Field Stadium with the possibility to expand beyond the baseball stadium.
“Our own management company has Texas country acts and we can call other managers and agents,” says Couri. “It could go even bigger. The economics of this isn’t going to be interesting to a lot of bands, but if we can expand to 2,000 cars at $100 ticket, the question is how big can you make it? This is a trial at a scale no one else has tried and the sky’s the limit.”
Triple 8 has trademarked the Concert In Your Car name and Couri says he’s eager to talk to any party interesting in their blueprint.
For Eli, once Couri could answer all question he and his bandmates had about the safety of their fans and themselves, he was in. “At the end of the day, we were pretty comfortable with knowing we would be able to do this safely and be able to fill the void in our lives of not being able to play any shows and the void of people not being able to go see live music. Just being able to drive with our guitars from our houses and plug in and play, we know the four of us can do this without going in for a big bear hug, even though we want to.”
Though he admits it may be weird to not hear audience applause—in Denmark, fans have shown their appreciation by turning on their windshield wipers, blinking their headlights and honking their horns—he is eager for the link the show will bring. “Our lives have revolved around playing live,” Eli says. “We need to be connected with our fans again. We miss them.”