What music festivals will look like post-COVID
The future of COVIDSafe music festivals could hinge on the success of an innovative model which will launch in Western Australia next month.
Good Day Sunshine, which was postponed in March as the pandemic shut down live events, will trial a unique concept which splits the audience into four precincts with a revolving stage in the middle of the site.
Festival favourites including John Butler, Xavier Rudd, Josh Pyke and The Waifs' Vikki Thorn will perform to a crowd capped at 5000 - 1250 per section - at the all-day concert on October 31.
Promoter Ross Macpherson said concertgoers will have an opportunity this week to pick which one of the four precincts they wish to hang in with their friends.
From the moment they arrive at the Busselton beachside site, punters will navigate their way through their section's separate entry, enjoy shorter queues at the food vans and bars on offer and use dedicated toilets.
All surfaces will be constantly cleaned and sanitised.
There will be hand sanitiser at every food van, bar area and bathrooms with regular announcements to remind people to regularly wash their hands and keep socially distanced.
Punters will also be encouraged to be a picnic blanket and low back chairs to mark out their turf with friends. And there will be plenty of space to satisfy the two sqm per person requirement.
The good news is in WA, there are no Footloose-inspired restrictions - festivalgoers can dance.
While there is a "dance zone" in front of each section, Macpherson said the acoustic nature of the performers meant "you wouldn't normally see a moshpit for these guys."
Those who witnessed the Adele concerts in 2017 will be familiar with the concept of the revolving stage, with the big screens broadcasting the best view of the gig.
"The PA is fixed, the big LED screens are fixed and the central part of the stage is round - it was probably most recently occupied by a luxury car - and the rest of the stage is built around that," the promoter said.
Macpherson said the festival would not have been financially viable with any less than a capacity of 5000 people but that size of audience - split into four - limits the potential for virus spread and allows for quick contact tracing should there be an outbreak.
The Good Day Sunshine team remain cautiously optimistic community transmission will remain at negligible levels leading up to the event in six weeks.
He appreciates festival curators in Australia and around the world will be watching his event closely to determine how it can be scaled up or down for future music gatherings.
"I would be flattered if someone wanted to use this model," he said.
"Some of the best site designers and festival teams are in Australia and once the rest of the country - and other countries - can open up, there will be amazing ideas about what festivals look like in the future."
Originally published as What music festivals will look like post-COVID