With an unpredictable future looming precariously before them, Rochester-area club owners have been caught in a kind of COVID-19 limbo. In this ongoing series of The F-Word, CITY music writer Frank De Blase finds out how businesses that rely on a regular live audience are staying afloat.
COVID-19 and its fallout have left a trail of tears in its wake, financially hobbling musicians and venue owners of both big and small clubs. Phil Fitzsimmons, the owner and operator of Anthology (which has a capacity of just under 1,000), has had to shut things down like all the rest.
Hollywood Undead performs at Anthology.
But Fitzsimmons is somewhat optimistic. He sees a glimmer, a twinkle, a spark of hope.
“We are keeping a positive outlook,” he says. “And we are continuing to book shows for the distant future.” He acknowledges this is a medical crisis currently, not just a financial one. And it’s a moving target.
“The most difficult thing has been coming to grips with the constantly changing information flow around coronavirus and its effects,” he says. “It is difficult to book makeup dates when the understanding is that the virus is constantly in flux.”
So Fitzsimmons cautiously looks to the future, planning for different scheduling contingencies based on when community health guidelines might again allow for public performances. Currently, there are some concerts tentatively planned for late summer, with the number gradually increasing in the fall and winter, and a full slate of shows for 2021.
Most of them are “holds,” as bands and management take a wait-and-see approach to rolling out small to medium tours.” Fitzsimmons is keeping the faith. He isn’t too worried.
“I don't think we can go back to normal,” he says. “But I do believe an informed public can make good decisions regarding best practices and social events.”
Frank De Blase is CITY's music writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.