Major Quad-Cities Concert Venues Warily Eye Reopening
Saturday In The Arts is a new regular feature running every Saturday on QuadCities.com! Saturday In The Arts offers an in-depth, comprehensive and extensive look at a subject, trend or issue on the local arts and entertainment scene. In our debut feature, Jonathan Turner looks at the major concert venues and outdoor fests in the Quad-Cities and how they’ve been impacted, and could continue to be impacted, by covid-19.
The Davenport fair – which would mark its 101st year Aug. 4-9, at 2815 W. Locust St. – is up in the air following Wednesday’s announcement that the Iowa State Fair decided to cancel for the first time since World War II. That fair, which brings more than a million people to the east side of Des Moines over the annual 11-day event, was scheduled to run Aug. 13-23, 2020. This followed news last month that the Rock Island County Fair was also being canceled.
Shawn Loter, general manager of the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, said Wednesday that his board plans to make a decision next week on whether to proceed with the huge fair. Its grandstand entertainment is scheduled to include country superstar Keith Urban Aug. 5 and rapper Pitbull on Aug. 8.
“We don’t know yet,” Loter said, noting he’s at the mercy of state of Iowa health regulations. On June 1, the state of Iowa permitted all gatherings and events of more than 10 people if public health measures are implemented, including limiting attendance to 50 percent of the venue capacity and maintaining six feet of distance between those attending.
The Mississippi Valley Fair grandstand has a capacity of more than 5,500 people.
“I’m hoping we can move forward, if we can have it,” Loter said of the August festival. They are proceeding with a highly anticipated bout July 18 between the well-known Q-C fighters Michael Nunn and Pat Miletich.
Seating for that will feature tables of 10 spaced six feet apart, Loter said. If the fair remains, the grandstand concerts are admission only with a $75 Fun Card. No single-night tickets will be sold for grandstand events, and the card is good for one entrance for all grandstand acts during the week.
An “Urban” renewal
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic and shutdowns nationwide, the music industry is preparing to lose an estimated $9 billion in ticket sales this year, according to a study published by the trade publication Pollstar.
The 52-year-old Keith Urban (who’s played Moline’s TaxSlayer Center in 2011 and 2016) last month did a unique show east of Nashville, for only health care workers, who watched the singer from their cars, parked six feet apart.
“It felt amazing to be playing,” Urban told ABC News. “People were honking horns and flicking headlights. … It was really magical.”
The surprise concert Urban performed was held at the Stardust Drive-In Movie Theater, one of the first artists in the country to perform a live show in front of an audience since the onset of the pandemic.
Almost 125 vehicles filled the parking lot for the unannounced show, which was only for doctors, nurses, EMTs and staff from Vanderbilt Health, a division of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Other major Q-C concert venues are taking a cautious “wait-and-see” approach to hosting upcoming events.
TaxSlayer Center, Moline
Events at the Moline arena that have been canceled or rescheduled include:
- Michael Buble (May 14), rescheduled for Feb. 20, 2021
- Tool (June 10), canceled
- Journey with The Pretenders (July 2), canceled
- WWE (July 11), canceled
- Matchbox Twenty (Aug. 23), postponed
“We have been working full-time on this issue,” Scott Mullen, executive director of the TaxSlayer Center, said this week. “We are following the mandates established by the governor. Unfortunately, public assembly facilities were the first to close and are currently scheduled to be the last to open. As things evolve on almost a daily basis, there is no way to predict when we will open but rest assured it is a priority to open when the time is right.”
Mullen also serves as director of arenas for the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) and on a number of committees and task forces that have been established to create uniform protocols for venues to open safely and as soon as responsibly possible.
“We have been communicating regularly with local officials, state and congressional representatives as well as governors across the country,” he said. “We are also working with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), whose purpose is help organizations and businesses prepare for, respond to, and recover from biological threats, and biohazard situations and real-time crises.
“They offer education, training, certification, response management, and crisis consulting for situations where environments require a much higher level of cleaning, disinfection, and restoration,” Mullen said.
“The goal is to develop the industry specific protocols and subsequently have the TaxSlayer Center obtain a GBAC certification by early August” he said.
The arena has tentatively scheduled graduation ceremonies for Moline High School July 23, Rock Island and United Township Aug. 2, and Augustana College Oct. 11.
The box office re-opened on June 2 and the hours are 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Each event has different refund policies established by the managers or promoters and shows, and can depend on whether the event was cancelled, postponed or rescheduled, Mullen said.
Show specific information is available at taxslayercenter.com and is updated as they get information. “We are using this downtime to complete a number of capital projects and upgrades to the facility so that when we do re-open, our guests and tenants will be once again able to enjoy a modern, up-to-date facility with new amenities,” he said.
The TaxSlayer will be summarizing a list of those upgrades in the near future.
On the IAVM blog, they noted the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., will host its first event since March with the 47th Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior National Volleyball Championships on July 14.
The significance is that the venue is among the first in the convention center sector in the country to host an event since the pandemic effectively shut down the industry with the March 11 declaration that the NBA was postponing its season – to also return in Orlando.
The basketball season resumes (without fans in attendance) July 31 at Disney World, with NBA Finals due to start Sept. 30.
The Rust Belt, East Moline
Many shows have been canceled at this 16-month-old venue, 533 12th Ave., in East Moline, and just one remains on this summer’s calendar: The Drive-By Truckers on July 26.
“As far as The Rust Belt, I don’t think too many shows are going to take place this year,” spokeswoman Becca Hyland said recently. “It is out of our hands and we are just waiting to hear back from the state. If we are able to have shows, we will do everything we can to keep them on the schedule, but it is not looking too good for the state of Illinois. We will keep everyone posted as soon as we have any more news but like I said, it is out of our hands and we are just waiting for the green light.”
“We do not know what is going on yet as everything is subject to change and we get more news every day,” she said. “We will open our doors as soon as we can and hold as many shows possible. The Smashing Pumpkins canceled, and that show was in October so like I said, it is completely up in the air and I cannot be certain on anything. It’s a real bummer because we had some killer shows booked this year.
“We will try our best to reschedule all the cancelled or postponed shows but with all the tours being pushed back, it can be hard to line up available dates with their tour,” Hyland said. “The Rust Belt was finally starting to make a name and be heard around the Quad-Cities but this is only a minor setback. Once we can open our doors again, we will be back to having great shows and having all the amazing fans back.”
Adler Theatre, Davenport
Among the many schedule changes at the classic 1931 theater in downtown Davenport are:
- Darci Lynne (Mar. 14), rescheduled for 4, 2020
- “Waitress” (Mar. 17), rescheduled 23, 2021
- Gordon Lightfoot (Mar. 25), rescheduled Oct. 5, 2020
- Postmodern Jukebox (Mar. 31), rescheduled Sept. 23, 2020
- “The Color Purple” (Apr. 6), canceled
- Alice Cooper (Apr. 8), rescheduled Nov. 14, 2020
- Dwight Yoakam (Apr. 9), postponed – rescheduled date TBD
- Ballet Quad Cities “Sleeping Beauty” (Apr. 18), canceled
- “Beautiful” (Apr. 20), rescheduled May 11, 2021
- Kansas (Apr. 25), rescheduled Sept. 27, 2020
- Theresa Caputo (Apr. 28), rescheduled Sept. 30, 2020
- Scooby-Doo Live! (May 12), canceled
- The Quad City Symphony “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in Concert” (May 30), canceled
- “Chicago The Musical” (June 1-2), canceled
- TEDxDavenport (June 6), rescheduled June 19, 2021
- Jason Bonham (June 9), postponed – rescheduled date TBD
“We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with promoters and partners in rescheduling most of the shows that were postponed amid Covid-19 concerns,” said Heather Brummel, associate executive director of the Adler and RiverCenter.
“In terms of the performances that had been canceled, rather than rescheduled, those decisions were based on tour directives for various reasons,” she said. “Rescheduled shows were moved to future dates this fall and spring of next year. Our first show for this season is a Postmodern Jukebox performance on September 23, 2020.
“Additionally, it was our hope, by now, to unveil the upcoming Broadway at the Adler Theatre 2020-21 season lineup. Unfortunately, the announcement has been delayed,” Brummel said. “We certainly hope to share details soon.
“At this time, we honestly do not have a confirmed opening date to announce,” she added. “Once state and county restrictions on social distancing and crowd capacity are loosened, and we feel that we can safely welcome team members and patrons back to the facility, we will do so. We are diligently working behind-the-scenes to make sure the proper protocols are in place before we even consider opening our doors for the upcoming season.”
Redstone Room, Davenport
Though the Redstone Room at River Music Experience has July 25 reserved for KT Tunstall and Aug. 13 for Pat Travers, those gigs may not happen, executive director Tyson Danner said.
“As of now, we have no set restart date for concerts,” he said recently. “Any dates you see on our event calendar are temp reschedule dates. Due to the way our agreements work with artists, and the way our ticketing systems work, we have to put in a date.
“We’re trying to figure out how to change our event calendar so that it isn’t confusing, but without a full overhaul we’re having trouble,” Danner said.
During this crazy quarantine period, the RME has been presenting outdoor curbside concerts for local music fans – 75 so far, with the rest of June sold out, he said, and the schedule for July announced soon.
RME continues to spread the joy of music by having local musicians play a show outside your house or the house of someone you care about. There’s a $60 suggested donation for the performance.
The concerts (usually between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.) are only available within a 10-mile radius of downtown Davenport.