Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some artists have tried to pivot to socially distanced performances at drive-in movie theaters or by charging admission to virtual concerts, but the majority did not play live at all.
Speaking to Rock N Roll Underground about the future of live music once the pandemic has subsided, MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson said (hear audio below): "I remember in the late '90s, MEGADETH, we were touring a lot. We'd put a record out, and we'd do these big 18-month tours. And I remember flying into a city one day and just going, 'There's gotta be an easier way to do this. Can't we just Skype this and have everybody come to us rather than traveling around the world, moving black speaker boxes and lights and trucks and buses.' So, guess what? Here we are. This is it. It's 2020. And the truth of it is… Is this better than live music? And I would argue it's not.
"What we really want is the social interaction with each other," he continued. "No man is an island to himself. We're meant to be together. We're better when we're together. The live music experience is something that will always be there, even as it transitions.
"When we did the 'Big Four' live concert [with METALLICA, SLAYER and ANTHRAX] in Sofia, Bulgaria, METALLICA had utilized this streaming service that does the boxing events, and that show went live all around the world — thousands of movie theaters — as the show was happening, and then in time delay. So we've kind of already done one of those. It was a big drive-in show in front of 80,000 fans in Sofia, Bulgaria. And, of course, METALLICA, being the leaders they are, they started the drive-in thing this year again.
"So, it's great. Look, it's gonna survive no matter what, because humans are survivors. So live music will never go away, and live events will never go away."
Drive-in concerts have received a mixed response from artists and fans, with MACHINE HEAD's Robb Flynn calling them "the stupidest fucking shit I've ever seen," and DESTRUCTION's Schmier outright refusing to play them, indicating "I don't wanna rip my fans off."
Doro Pesch, who played three drive-in concerts in Germany this past summer, defended the experience, calling it "a great adventure. It's not the same, like a normal concert or festival but it's better than doing nothing," she said. "We were all so happy that we could do it. The fans had a great time, and the band and road crew all had something to do. Usually people think about it being too much with another tour or gig, but everyone was so ready to run. It was great. When we did the first one, someone filmed part of it on a cell phone so we put it on our socials and in two days it had so many views! I think like 600,000 people saw it and then we got more phone calls from promoters and people who own drive-in theaters asking us to put on shows. Some of them had never done a rock show but thought they could pull it off. So, we did more drive-in shows and it was so great."
She continued: "Every show was totally different. Sometimes the rules and regulations were very strict, and sometimes they were more loose. I asked if I could go into the audience, with social distancing, and sometimes the answer was no and a few times I could do it as long as I was wearing a mask. So I did, no problem, and I wore a mask and sung anyway! It works! It actually looked a lot like our [WARLOCK] 'All We Are' video. We played on top of a tour bus and everyone was in their cars, and they are frozen but come to life through the magic of metal and it looked exactly like that when I hopped on stage. It was like déjà vu! Going back in time to 1987 to when we filmed that video. That was surreal."
As previously reported, MEGADETH's North American tour with LAMB OF GOD, TRIVIUM and IN FLAMES has been rescheduled for 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
MEGADETH is currently recording the follow-up to 2016's "Dystopia" album for a tentative 2021 release.
The early sessions for the LP took place last year with co-producer Chris Rakestraw, who previously worked on "Dystopia".