My Twitter feed is a terrifying place these days.
My timeline is stuffed full of doctors, epidemiologists, public health officials, and health journalists, and they are not an optimistic bunch of late. While Ontario / Canada seemed to have had a reasonable handle on Delta, the two-week’s worth of data on Omicron is not looking promising. Seemingly quite contagious, seemingly fairly evasive of both vaccination and prior infection, it looks poised to spread at exponential rates in the coming weeks and months, once again threatening to swamp Ontario hospitals whose already limited capacity is actually worse now when this happened last year.
Meanwhile, I had tickets to my first crowded indoor event of the pandemic: a sold-out Blue Rodeo concert at Centre in the Square.
All of this doom-scrolling was not, would you believe, making me feel that great about going.
I decided to look at it another way. The experts are not recommending shutting everything down as a threat response. Among what they do recommend:
- Booster shots—which Jean and I have both been fortunate enough to have received last month.
- N95 masks—which we have a large personal stock of, and were quite willing to wear all evening.
While the 2000 or so capacity of Centre in the Square seemed… large… I wasn’t about to interact with all of those folks. The risk was just from the ones sitting near me. The odds they would be infected? Well, while the projections are dire, the today COVID situation, locally, isn’t terrible. Current cases per 100,000 still rate as “low”. Omicron has only probably and not definitely been found here yet. And you had to provide proof of two-dose vaccination to get in. And stay masked unless “actively drinking”.
OK, so a risk, but maybe a manageable one. So to decide: were Blue Rodeo really worth it?
I like the band, obviously, or I wouldn’t have bought the tickets. But I’m quite literally a greatest hits type of fan. In that, I own Blue Rodeo’s Greatest Hits album, I like it, play it a fair amount, but I don’t go much beyond that. They play the deep cuts, I’m not going to get excited, you know?
However, everyone says they’re so great in concert, and they always sell out, and the reviews of this tour have been good. I’ve never seen them live before. And if things really are going to pot, maybe it’s good to have a little fun now, while we still can?
So we went.
I guess it wasn’t that auspicious that when we arrived at Centre in the Square, some sort of medical emergency was taking place, with ambulance lights outside and one theatre entrance screened and blocked to provide privacy while paramedics assisted whoever was in distress.
We also weren’t thrilled when the both the person sitting right beside me, and the one sitting right beside Jean, sat down with drinks, aka “permission to remove your mask”. (“I’m not happy with you right now,” Jean said. “I’m not that happy with me, either”, I replied.)
But you know… The crowd actually was pretty good about the masking thing, as a whole, from what I could see. Of course a few were doing the chin mask thing, and the drink sales looked healthy enough, but quite a few people—including those beside us—actually did “lower mask to drink / raise it up again” dance rather than just take the whole mask off til the drink was done. And neither of our neighbours nursed their drinks all evening, either.
And the band?
My friends, Blue Rodeo is so good in concert! You should really see them live if you get a chance. And being just a “Greatest Hits” fan? That’s fine. That’s mostly what they play, as it turns out. They apologize when presenting the new songs. But those are pretty good too.
They are terrific musicians, and great singers (in the 60s, but voices still fine), and the crowd vibe—remember crowd vibes? I’d almost forgotten, but I love a good crowd vibe—was just so warm and appreciative.
I went in with doubts, but once the show started, the band made it easy for me to stop “mask monitoring” and just enjoy being at a live music show once again.
I was even “all in” for the theatre-wide, standing, “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” singalong. Truly a joyful time.