Goodbye masks, hello concerts

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: AMY SIMON
Over these past few years, we have been longing for in-person performances again, an itch that was fortunately scratched late last year.

Almost three years have passed since COVID-19 uprooted our lives. Through times of great loss, many people have forgotten something that, before the pandemic, was a fun and entertaining part of our lives.

If you ask us, being huge music fans, a personal liberty we lost to COVID-19, we’d immediately say attending live concerts. What were once face-to-face events were quickly turned virtual, leaving us only able to see our favourite artists through screens. While we completely understand and appreciate the precautionary measures keeping us safe, we can’t help but miss the roaring sounds of the crowd as the artist walks onto the stage.

Over these past few years, we have been longing for in-person performances again, an itch that was fortunately scratched late last year.

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On Nov. 29, 2021, Canada celebrated the best of country music right here in London. Music lovers filled the seats at Budweiser Gardens in the biggest event the country had seen after a two-year hiatus. Growing up as big country enthusiasts, one of us more than the other, we were honoured and thrilled to attend this once in a lifetime opportunity. Hosted by Canada’s Drag Race Season One winner Priyanka and 2021 Canadian Country Music Award (CCMA) winner Lindsay Ell, our wishes were brought to life by an evening of outstanding performances, including virtual appearances by Thomas Rhett, Walker Hayes, and six-time Country Music Award (CMA) winner, Chris Stapleton. The concert atmosphere is unmatched and there is no better feeling. Luckily, events like this will be able to continue.

On March 9, the Ontario government announced a plan to end all COVID-19 restrictions by the end of April. Vaccine passports will no longer be required in public spaces as social gathering and capacity limits will also be lifted in restaurants, theatres, sports and concert venues. And for those with iPhones, all that frustration of not being able to unlock it is out the window with masks becoming a thing of the past. Although Ontario’s Science Advisory Table says we should be ready to reinstate mask mandates in a moment’s notice, it’s hard not to sigh in relief as we start to head back to normal for the first time since early 2020.

London is a community rich in artistic expression, being recognized as Canada’s first UNESCO City of Music. Now, it’s time for Londoners to stomp their feet to the beat once again. It will be the party of the century as people get back out to see their favourite bands and artists this summer. Locally, we will see festivals return, like Rock the Park, and London Tourism is expecting a successful season.

But even if mask mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions are put back in place, having the chance to attend the CCMAs was an experience we will never forget. Fingers crossed that London will have more fun opportunities for many years to come.