BITCHFORK’S ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SURVIVING THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
If you’d told me on March 1st that in four weeks I’d be lounging in bike shorts on a Tuesday afternoon, sipping coffee and writing, there’s no way I’d believe you. I had a steady 9-5 job, a growing freelance photography career and whole-heartedly believed 2020 wass going to be my year! In the coming weeks, my outlook would be flipped completely upside down as a result of the novel coronavirus. Like so many others, I was monitoring the spread of the deadly respiratory disease (COVID-19) through news reports as early as January. Watching headlines as the virus and illness take their course starting in China, then South Korea, Iran, Italy, and Spain. I was disturbed but still unfazed here at home in Montreal.
March 5th, the number of confirmed cases spike in the US, soon followed by waves of cancellations as the disease and undercurrents of panic washed ashore. First SXSW, a crucial hub for musicians and the music, film and tech industries – the news caused major upset around the world. This should’ve been my wake up call, but no. In the morning hours on March 12th, Quebec’s Premier, François Legault, announces that all concert venues should limit capacity to 250 people. “Okay, proceed with caution but it’s business as usual for the most part,” I thought. I battled mixed feelings as I attended the program launch for Distortion’s Psych Fest 2020 later that day. I guess everyone at the event was in a similar state of ambivalence, the organizers, bartenders, fans and musicians alike, but, I mean who could blame us? We’ve never lived through a pandemic before. All of this was, and continues to be, so completely new to us. Two days after Distortion’s program launch the Minister of Culture and Communications, Nathalie Roy, asks all concert venues to close for 30 days, effectively announcing to the music-going public, “THIS IS FUCKING SERIOUS!” My wake-up call.
The cancellations swell like the number of confirmed cases, moving closer to home and growing exponentially in reach and affecting local festivals, award ceremonies, concerts, and tours. As I write this, it’s reached the end of March, and we’ve replaced China’s Hubei as the province making headlines in Canadian news with 2000+ confirmed cases in Quebec alone. We are just coming to terms with what this all means (and could later come to mean) for our cultural and artistic communities. To say the very least, these last few weeks have been challenging for all of us.
Contemporary life as we know it has changed dramatically. As the number of confirmed cases increase so do the measures to mitigate the spread of the virus. Against this backdrop, we’ve become a dislocated community of artists, fans and industry personnel, stuck at home in self-isolation for hopefully a few months. As a community that relies heavily on social events for the bulk of its income – at a time where public health authorities have almost indefinitely banned gatherings of large groups – conceiving the overall financial loss becomes an unfathomable task.
In spite of all this, I see glimmers of hope on the horizon. The situation improved in China and that only took what…like, 3 months of a complete lockdown? In the meantime, while we’re confined to a lonely life, we’re also quickly adapting to the changing tides and developing ingenious ways to cope with our new realities. Across familiar and emerging social platforms, we are witnessing collective displays of resilience take shape online. We’re using these online platforms to aid, entertain and otherwise enrich each other’s lonely lives. A small victory in an uncertain time.
Here are a few of these local causes and social platforms we think you should get to know:
Montreal Venue Staff
After all venues in Montreal were closed until at least April 14th (now extended to May 1st) venue staff from 13 prominent Montreal venues have come together looking for the public’s support during the 28 days it takes for EI claims to get processed. This group represents 165 bartenders, servers, cleaners, sound technicians, promoters, DJ’s, cooks and security personnel who are currently facing unemployment due to restrictions by public health authorities – it definitely includes staff from at least one of your favourite haunts: Barfly, Brasserie Beaubien, Casa del Popolo, Diving Bell Social Club, L’Escogriffe, Quai des Brumes, Café Resonance, Bar le Ritz PDB, La Sala Rossa, La Sotterenea, Turbohaus, and La Vitrola.
Click the link below to find out full details about this fundraiser, including ways to donate.
Also Cool Mag
Also Cool is a Montreal based arts and music magazine. Besides highlighting everything that’s cool in arts and culture the magazine also aims to pay its contributors for their work. They’ve put together a fundraiser for local artists whose income has been directly affected by the novel coronavirus. Find out full details about this fundraiser, in the link below.
Contributing to the health and safety of the Montreal music community local co-op incubator, La Plante, has indefinitely postponed all upcoming events. As a result, members of the co-op are in need of financial assistance in order to keep it running. If you can help La Plante they’re looking to raise $1500 to cover rent for two months. Click the link below to donate directly to one of the city’s longest running DIY institutions.
To get up to speed let’s start off with the classics. First, Brooklyn’s independent non-profit The Lot Radio has been live streaming 24/7 since before quarantine and features a mix of both established and emerging musicians. You can now find re-streams of old performances coupled with new material from self-isolation on their website. Second, Boiler Room, best known for their sweaty, IRL, invite-only dance parties, have now transitioned to online broadcasts featuring DJs from a mix of genres streaming live in self-isolation. Each stream also gives you the option to donate to the Global FoodBanking Network. Third, Seattle’s public radio gem, KEXP. Here you can find everything needed to quench your thirst for live performances. If you’re a Pedro the Lion fan, you’re in luck cause you can catch Pedro the Lion Tuesdays and Thursdays 4PM ET via Twitch on KEXP. You can also use their digital tip jars to purchase music and merchandise directly from performers. Fourth, podcasts – there’s too many to list and too much to say, so I’m just going to list a few of my favourites here:
- The Ogoing History of New Music (self-explanatory)
- Song Exploder (musicians tell the story of how one of their songs is made, piece-by-piece)
- The Realness (documents Prodigy’s life with sickle cell anemia)
- Dolly Parton’s America (I didn’t listen to Dolly Parton before this podcast and now I care about her in a personal way)
Skint0ne’s Live Streaming Events Calendar
How will we keep track of all the live streaming events? Well, one option we have is Skint0ne‘s Live Streaming Events Calendar. This public Google calendar has been set up in order to organize streaming events in a quick and relatively easy fashion.
On March 20th, Zola Jesus, Erik Zurring and Devon Welsh started the live-streaming platform Koir.tv. During its short existence, Koir has already hosted performances by Blanck Mass, War on Drugs, Death Cab for Cutie, and legendary Club Quarantine. The website consists of an event calendar and guidelines on how to navigate live streaming for rookies. For the time being, the non-profit platform has a built-in financial support feature, with Bandcamp, Paypal, Patreon or Cash App linking directly to the performer’s page.
In the middle of the pandemic, we all know we can count on Capricorns. “I’m a Capricorn *laugh* and I won’t let anything step on my business but I still wanted to do something safe. I wanted to see people smile and dance in the comfort of their homes. I was inspired by Club Quarantine but, I wanted to curate artists from a larger musical spectrum and, of course, women would be at the core.” says the founder of Global Relations. This online edition of a monthly party by the same name, at bar Datcha, is curated by Montreal phenom, Gayance. As far as the line-up goes, the weekly online party plans to feature guests from around the world, including DJ Cheetah (Paris) Nora Zion (Perth), LATASHA (Brooklyn), and of course local Montrealers like Julio Mendy, Honey Drip and IAMNOTMYSTORY. Gayance states, “I always wanted to be rich enough to be able to put all these people on the same stage. With this whole online party thing, I had to bring them all on the same lineup. I’m sure it will create links between artists and communities.”
MTL 24/24, Breakglass Studios and LADR (with plans to involve other collaborators in the coming months) have joined forces to bring us online party, Transmission.”We’re trying to bring people together virtually during this difficult time where it’s important to start physically distancing, as well as provide an outlet, platform and potential revenue stream for artists and DJs and collectives since we can’t have actual parties or concerts.” says Breakglass’ James Benjamin. The live streaming party will feature Jacques Greene as a headliner this Saturday.
Third Man Public Access
Remember White Stripes front person Jack White? He’s also hopped on the streaming bandwagon with the launch of Third Man Public Access TV. The Youtube channel features broadcasts daily, live from Nashville, starting at 1 PM EST. The first episode featuring Luke Schneider is cool, but I’m not sure how the series will develop since Episode 2 featuring Teddy and the Rough Riders is a definite pass from me.
United We Stream – Berlin
Berlin’s club scene has also been heavily impacted by the spread of the novel coronavirus. The 9000 members of the affected industry came together to resurrect Berlin’s club scene online. You can watch these daily live streams from different clubs throughout the city. While streaming, supporters can donate directly to Berlin clubs via a fundraising platform located on the webpage. All streaming revenue will go directly towards a rescue fund, with 8% set aside for Civilian Sea Rescue.