Facing the Music: Concert Venues Begin Comeback

Nearly eight months into the coronavirus pandemic, most live music is still on hold. But slowly, there are signs of life returning to some music venues. Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott allowed concert halls to reopen, while Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also green-lighted limited live performances, including the reopening of the Houston Symphony.

Larger Houston venues like House of Blues and Bayou Music Center remain closed indefinitely, but other concert halls are back open and making it work. Among them is Warehouse Live, which has had a roller coaster year. “We closed in March, then were allowed to reopen in May, then we had to shut down again in June, and then were allowed to reopen in September,” says Ashly Montgomery, marketing director for Warehouse Live. “So it’s been pretty intense.”

Montgomery tells KTRH they are abiding by all health guidelines, including extensive cleaning, mask requirements, and a new layout. “Our ballroom floor pretty much looks like a bingo grid,” she says. “Everything is mapped out with tape—like if you grab a chair you have to sit here—and we’ve got our tables six feet apart.”

It’s somewhat fitting that their ballroom looks like a bingo grid, because that is one of the new activities Warehouse Live is offering in these days of limited live music. “No touring acts yet, but we’re able to do tribute shows, we’re doing movie nights, we’re doing bingo nights,” says Montgomery. “If we want to be open, we’re having to come up with alternative programming.”

Throughout the reopening process, Warehouse Live has been in regular contact with customers seeking feedback on what will get them to come back. And so far, Montgomery reports the response has been overwhelmingly positive. “This entire pandemic, we have yet to have to kick anybody out for being rowdy, or not wearing a mask, or not complying with the rules…every single person has complied,” she says. “Because people want to be there, they want to be around people, they want to be at concerts, and that support means everything to us.”

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