The Rise of Covid-Delta
It’s been 18 months now since the Covid-19 pandemic has spread like wildfire around the world. Impacting all cultures, if not equally. In most cultures, obeisance to the gods of capitalism have meant that flattening the curve of spread has failed. Given the choice between pretending that nothing is wrong, and keeping that money flowing into coffers – which seems to be the only value Western culture has. At least according to its gatekeepers. Western culture has opted for money over life itself.
Any attempt to counter this phenomenon has been met with organized resistance from a smaller, but very vocal minority with the media at their beck and call. The very idea of civic duty and responsibility has been attacked and mocked by those who would profit in the face of death. I’ve lived long enough to see the astonishing spectacle of disease prevention be attacked on a political basis. Meanwhile in the last 18 months, as of today, this disease has killed 673,985 Americans. Roughly one in 500 US citizens are now dead.
I got my vaccinations by May. And once the vaccines were flowing down to my tier [last] by that time, we supposed that things might start to be getting better. In June, my wife was thrilled to see that Khraungbin and Lee Fields; two of her recent musical investigations were playing a show together as a fundraiser for the Raleigh United Way to help revitalize the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. We bought tickets for us and our friends to attend the outdoor show at the Red Hat Amphitheater. We’d seen OMD there in 2016 and it was a large [6000 cap.] venue in the middle of the city. I felt that an outdoors show would be surely a viable thing by the end of October! We bought our tickets with confidence. And maybe a little spring in our step.
Then In July, Sparks announced their 2022 US tour and a date with our name on it was in Atlanta in March of 2022. They were playing a new 2,200 cap. indoor performing arts center that looked very nice indeed. And tickets were even priced below $50 each – a steal! But on the time between buying those tickets and now, the recent mutation of Covid-19, Covid-Delta, has spread like wildfire throughout the US. Especially the Southeast where I live. As we can see in the graph below, the amount of weekly deaths due to the much more powerful Delta variant has skyrocketed in two and a half months to eight times the nadir of the death curve [at roughly 1.6K death/week] from last July. We are currently having 13.2K deaths/week with no end in sight.
The Live Music Experience
In a matter of weeks, we have gone from being excited to see Khraungbin/Lee Fields with our friends and having another glorious Sparks show to anticipate to knowing that there’s no way in hell we will be traveling to see a show, even outdoors. The Covid-Delta strain is just too virulent for me to tempt fate.
As of tomorrow, it will be exactly two years since the last live concert I have seen: Les Filles de Illigahad at The Mothlight. It was at my favorite local venue which no longer exists, due to the pandemic. As a person who’s consumed by a love for music, and has spent a lifetime waiting long years to see my favorite bands, has this been a difficult time for me? That would be an easy “no!”
Given how much I love music, going cold turkey on concerts for two years has been so easy that I haven’t really noticed it being a problem. I have a significantly larger problem with
A] missing work due to quarantine due to catching a virulent disease or
B] dying because of it.
Maybe I’ll revisit these words with a steaming plate of hot crow, but if I never see another live concert again for the rest of my life I’ll be more than happy to have merely survived this pandemic without having a punishing bout of long-Covid symptoms that scientists will be studying for probably beyond the rest of my life.
In fact, the upside of the pandemic has been that I’ve seen several streaming live shows that, given the thousands of miles that have separated me from the artistes performing in them, I would have otherwise never experienced in any significant way! I really loved the Midge Ure 1980 show. Sure, it was weird seeing a hot show with no crowd feedback [in fact, no crowd…] but I coped somehow. What about the other side of the music lover’s coin? The purchasing experience?
Shopping For Music
After all, I am a person who actually blogs about traveling to other cities and buying discs from outside of the local hunting grounds. I carry within me the memories of some truly transformative music shopping experiences. How have I reacted to living in a time when this is not possible? Surprisingly well.
From March to December of last year, I still managed to spend $779.88 on music with only one purchase made in an actual record store. Technically, not even in the store. For the 2020 Record Store day event, I was able to send my request at a certain time on RSD 2020 via email to Harvest Records. I wanted the clear vinyl “Roxy Music” Steven Wilson remix LP and the clear vinyl “Sleepwalk” 12″ from Ultravox. Within minutes I heard back with a link to buy, which I did. I paid online and drove to their pickup area to have the discs delivered to my waiting car.
This was by far the kindest, most humane experience of Record Store Day I’ve ever had! Every other RSD event was like fighting a school of hungry piranhas for raw meat, dangled just above the tank! This year I have spent a lot less on music and I’m basically happy with this turn of events. As I am aging, I find this easier, and easier to do. My friend Mr. Ware is several years older than I am and he’s reported on the phenomenon of losing the obsession with building a collection and I’m here to report that I seem to be falling right into that trend, no matter how much I may have thought “no way” to myself as little as a decade ago.
This year I have been to Harvest exactly two more times for pickup of a previously bought disc. This year’s RSD was different. Eight people were allowed in the store to pick from the RSD stock at a time. I waited about eight minutes until it was my turn and was actually inside of the store for a few minutes to buy the Harold Budd album I wanted. It felt weird to do even that much, with everyone in the store masked, of course. It was still qualitatively better than the pre-2020 RSD experience. Far better.
One of my pet peeves is the practice of traveling to a distant city and shopping in a store. where I spend a lot of money on things I see there that are of interest, but not necessarily on my want list. My want list contains the title I actually obsess over. And spending $100 in a store on exactly none of them gets me nothing but cognitive dissonance that makes me $100 further from actually ordering any of those want list titles [which are generally never seen in American stores]. So the usual shopping circumstances normally bring me only more music anxiety. I am spending much less yet focusing on mail ordering things that I really want…if I deign to buy anything at all. The facts are that I have years worth of records bought that I still need to listen to. I’ve never spent less or been happier about it! So how are the rest of you reacting to the new and different circumstances? Discuss below.