The F Word: Local musicians eye return to live shows as COVID numbers decrease

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Look out, baby — live music is on its way back to your eager ears. Curfews are being lifted and COVID-19 numbers are going down.

Live-streamed concerts have kept a lot of purveyors of live music alive this past year. It picked up the slack and filled in the gaps. And yet the thrill is waning.

Don’t sweat it — it looks like the return of live music is just around the corner, to breathe fresh life into musicians who are tired of kowtowing to COVID and ready to move past online-only gigs.

Some musicians, like the Rochester garage rockers in Televisionaries, haven’t strayed from their pre-pandemic path.

“The Televisionaries have not changed anything except that we don’t play out live,” says Trevor Lake, the band’s lead guitarist. “We still rehearse weekly and have recorded a full-length record. Our goal is to ensure that we come out of all this better and tighter than ever.”

Lake says they haven’t really wanted to play socially distant gigs. “That’s not the vibe we represent as a band,” he says. “Our music thrives on sweaty, tightly packed clubs.”



But so does COVID-19. And so online concerts have become a less-than-ideal necessity for bands that want to stay in front of their fans during the pandemic.

Televisionaries have only played one live-streamed show during the pandemic, in order to retain the allure of a special, one-off event.

Anonymous Willpower’s lead singer Suzi Willpower makes the most of performing via livestream. “It's fun playing live shows in an empty room,” she says. “I imagine what it would be like if we all lived in space ships and we're only able to interact with people via satellite. But it just doesn't have the same feel as playing in front of a crowd.”

Anonymous Willpower has been adhering to social distancing as much as possible. “We are that close knit band who come to rehearsal, staying six feet apart, and playing together on a weekly to bi-weekly basis unless we feel even remotely ill,” Willpower says. “Any time we have any symptoms, we get tested. I have personally been tested seven times. Two for surgical procedures, and five for fearing being compromised by third-person parties.”

And with Willpower’s husband and keyboard player, Don Anonymous, battling leukemia, plus Suzi’s self-described “nightcap of health issues,” they'd rather be safe than sorry. And she says it’s good for the band’s creative health as well.

“We've been writing new material, recording, sending files back and forth to one another,” she says.

And as restrictions ease and the vaccine becomes more widely available, now seems like the right time for bands to get back up on the horse and reach out to venues about future gigs. The freeze on live shows seems to be thawing.

Frank De Blase is CITY's music writer. He can be reached at frank@rochester-citynews.com.
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