The 2021 music industry was hit hard by COVID-19 – live performance revenue being the biggest casualty. Musical acts big and small have begun booking tour dates – some have now cancelled.
Just when it looked like the music industry was making a BIG comeback, plenty of concerts and festivals have been canceled or rescheduled because of COVID-19 and the surging Delta Variant.
Successful rollouts of the Rolling Loud and Lollapalooza festivals may have been slightly overshadowed by Bonnaroo being canceled due to extreme weather.
On Aug. 19, Austin City Limits announced that those migrating to the festival will need to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. Or – at the very least – a printed copy of a negative COVID-19 test result – to be obtained within 72 hours of attending the festival.
The show went on with success. Here are some Austin City Limits Festival highlights.
Despite Covid-19 – some acts hit the road. Some tried to. Many gave up.
Major money-making acts such as Backstreet Boys, Bush, Stone Temple Pilots, Kiss, Rage Against the Machine and Roger Waters have either delayed shows from this year or put them off until a later date in 2022.
Most notably, Kiss suspended operations several times – the most recent being after a crew member died.
Even the Country Music Association canceled CMA Fest – the annual June four-day event that takes over many Nashville venues, including Nissan Stadium, due to COVID-19. CMA Fest is slated to return in 2022.
For an audience that likes to drink beer and rub dirt into superficial flesh wounds – this is a pretty BIG deal!
Showing no fear of COVID-19, Alice Cooper hit the road for Fall tour dates with Ace Frehley.
The Coop also has announced more dates for 2022.
He’s the Prince of Darkness – so what do you expect? Can anything ACTUALLY kill him?
But overall – how has COVID-19 affected the career of the independent music artist?
How do the ones that depend on live dates and on-site merchandise sales to survive when many are not working day jobs?
For Enuff Z’Nuff’s Chip Z’Nuff – it’s been business as usual. Well, with a few minor conditions.
“Touring has been absolutely fabulous – no rules or regulations and certainly no handcuffs. The fans have sacrificed concerts for over a year and (have) change(d) along with imposed rules that everyone has followed.”
Z’Nuff continued – “…the (recent) “Straight Outta Quarantine Tour” with Faster Pussycat … simply the celebration that everyone has anticipated but bigger than usual. The world is our oyster and we’re hungry for more!”
Enuff Z’nuff also kept busy with the release of Never Enuff – Rarities and Demos boxed set (out via Cleopatra Records).
It’s a must for the die-hard Enuff Z’Nuff crowd – high-quality studio demos consist entirely of unreleased, all original early material. It’ll make you want to crank their feel-good, hippy-vibe energy up to eleven (forgive us Spinal Tap)!
Also on tap (no pun intended) for Enuff Z’nuff is Enuff Z’Nuff’s Hardrock Nite – a celebration album of some of their favorite Beatles songs as well as songs from Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
Hardrock Nite will be released on November 12, 2021. Get a look at “Cold Turkey” (Plastic Ono Band cover) and “Back in the USSR” below.
As far back as Spring 2021 (which seems like a million years ago), Nashville’s True Villains started performing regularly locally live as well as traveling to a few surrounding states for shows.
During the lockdown, they’d written and recorded a few new singles produced by Grammy-winning producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Velvet Revolver, Alice in Chains).
“Dig Your Grave” hit media platforms in March 2021, with the latest single “Awake All Night” being released a little later on June 18th.
If you haven’t heard of True Villains – their sound is filled with modern-rock muscle, pop hooks, rhythmic breakdowns, guitar heroics, and vocal harmonies. It’s no retro revival. Instead, it’s the sound of rock & roll in the 2020s – big, burly, and just the right amount of angry attitude.
At the very least, True Villains will prove that rock n’ roll is NOT dead! But very much alive and vibrant.
After completing a set of Spring 2021 tour dates, we asked Little Caesar lead singer Ron Young how things went.
“They are following local ordinances and rules. They just seem really grateful to have survived and be back at it. I think there are some things they need to learn and change as adaptations to the ‘disruptions’ that COVID-19 has brought to people’s lifestyles. Earlier shows would be a good start.”
Little Ceasar appears again in America at the upcoming 2022 Monsters of Rock Cruise – hosted by Eddie Trunk. Other notable hard rock artists performing include fan favorites Alice Cooper, KIX, Tom Keifer, Great White, LA Guns, Electric Boys among many, many more.
And while not every independent rock act tried to hit the road over Summer 2021, many have recently released new music that is worth noting.
For instance, former Motley Crue singer John Corabi recorded the bouncy “Cosi Bella (So Beautiful).” This oh-so-new bouncy tune was produced and co-written in Nashville, TN, with Marti Frederiksen (Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne). And is the first of several new singles coming.
Modern – but not too modern – rockers Wayland have a new single entitled “How Long.”
The song asks the question – how long until we’re back together again? How long until we’re playing and listening to music again live, and doing what it is we all came here to do? All the time. Without any restrictions.
Veteran guitarist and singer-songwriter Steve Brown (Trixter, Tokyo Motor Fist, Danger Danger) has just dropped “Where Do We Run” – which offers an intimate peek at his prolific songwriting style and superior production chops.
From way across The Pond, the UK’s Bad Touch has struck gold with a cover of Edwin Starr’s “Twenty-Five Miles.” It’s a big, ballsy, and soulful rock n roll revival that is cool to the core.
With vocalist Stevie Westwood giving one of his best performances to date and the twin guitars of Rob Glendinning and Daniel Seekings blazing away – it’s a footstompin future live favorite.
Legendary Sunset Strip hard rockers L.A. Guns have been on quite an impressive studio run in recent years – not to mention also releasing a few equally-as-impressive live albums that perfectly capture the current glory of the band.
Keeping the momentum moving forward, L.A Guns’ punchy new single, “Knock Me Down” shows they’ve been extremely creative during the lockdown. The song doesn’t sound like a retread of old themes, but a continuation of the band’s true spirit without straying from their signature sound.
New album Checkered Past is due Nov. 12 through Frontiers Music SRL – continuing a streak of one new record every other year since 2017.
Guitarist Tracii Guns, also kept busy by teaming up with Stryper singer Michael Sweet on their project Sunbomb, which embraces a traditional heavy metal feel with touches of vintage doom metal.
But not everyone returning to the public eye in the age of COVID-19 is a hard rock artist!
American singer, pianist, and songwriter (and 2017 Miss America contestant) Alissa Musto’s summer return to the Florida performing scene was a success as well.
Musto commented – “…in Florida, the shows and audiences …resemble pre-pandemic levels..sold out shows…no distancing/masks required and lots of bookings. The energy is great after a year of not performing, I’m definitely appreciative of my time on stage and look forward to every show. I think the audience loves being back out again and able to enjoy music, so they are enthusiastic…”
Here’s what a few critics have had to say about Alissa’s music:
“(Alissa Musto) captures the vibe and excitement of the modern pop scene, with a great production and sultry vocals, reminiscent of iconic artists such as Billie Eilish, as well as Lorde and Lana Del Rey…” The Bandcamp Diaries
“…Alissa Musto is a young performer you absolutely owe it to yourself to get to know. She has a unique mix of talent and persona, a certain je ne sais quoi that makes her stand out in a musical crowd.” – Geoff Wilbur’s Music Blog
What does 2022 hold for the future of the music industry?
Does anyone really know?
But within the mess of COVID-19 – the future looks bright!