Winter Storm Nemo Impacts Live-Music Business In Northeast
Nemo, the blizzard that body-slammed the Northeast yesterday into this morning, dumping feet of snow driven by high winds blowing frigid air, forced the cancellation or postponement of several concerts in the region, underscoring yet again why February is among the touring industry’s lightest months.
As Friday turned into Saturday, more than half a million people were without power in the Northeast, road traffic had ground to a halt, and thousands of flights were cancelled, the latter situation surely causing difficulties for those artists and music bizzers trying to make it from New York and elsewhere to the more hospitable climes of L.A. for the Grammys Sunday.
But bands and agents take their chances and tour when and where they must, particularly at the club and small venue level, and that sector was hit very hard specifically in the Boston market, where the whole weekend of concerts were cancelled. Among the more notables in Boston, where road travel was banned Friday, were the postponement of George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic at the Boston House of Blues (which would have doubtlessly thawed things a bit had it gone on), and a Passion Pit with Matt & Kim show for Saturday, though as of press time the band’s show tonight at Madison Square Garden was still a go.
Also among the postponed in Beantown, according to local reports: Booty Camp at the Middle East Downstairs, Donna The Buffalo at the Center for the Arts in Natick, Mass., and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel on Rhode Island, among others. Elsewhere in New England, Jeff Mangum postponed last night’s show in Hartford. Daughtry postponed a show at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band postponed their stop at the Clark Institute in Albany, N.Y.
While the impact was significant, of course it was small in comparison with that of Hurricane Sandy last fall.
Daughtry had been set to perform at the Main Street Armory in Albany until the storm intervened, and the status of that show is unclear. "We dodged the big snow storm in Worcester only to drive into snowy Rochester, New York,” Chris Daughtry told Billboard.biz yesterday. “We're here for the show [Saturday] and everything is covered in white. We were very fortunate that we had no accidents, no bus problems, and everyone is safe.” Daughtry added that he’s “taking advantage of the snow days by writing some good tunes for album No. 4. Then we head back to Worcester to give ‘em the show they were hoping for two days prior. We love our fans and hope they're all safe and sound."
According to Ben Jaffe, tuba king for the PJHB, heading North might cost the much-loved ensemble one of their most critical demand slots of the year: Mardis Gras. “Yesterday, when we heard there would be two feet of snow, we spoke to the presenter, and decided it would be a lose-lose situation if we went ahead with the plans for the show,” says Jaffe. “The fans wouldn't be able to come and we'd run the risk of getting stuck and missing Mardi Gras, which wasn't really an option for us. We'll wait until everyone shovels themselves out and then sit down and look at the calendar and find another date to get it done."
From New York City, AEG Live VP Mark Shulman advises that none of his firm’s shows had been cancelled as of yet, and the same was heard from the city’s Bowery Presents. But Raekwon and Rakim had to postpone a show at Stage 48 until March, and the Heliotropes show at the Paper Box in Brooklyn was cancelled, according to reports. Live Nation New York president Jason Miller tells us he had to postpone Gojira and the Atlas Moth at Irving Plaza and Further Seems Forever at the Gramercy, but as of last night “we are cool” for the Porter Robinson gig at Roseland Ballroom tonight, which has been sold out for weeks. “It's not terrible in Manhattan,” Miller told us about 8:30 ET last night. “Yeah, it’s cold and slippery out, but not horrible. I’ve seen plenty worse. But I guess there is more coming or on through the night or something.”
Miller was correct, as the blizzard known as Nemo gained force as Friday turned into Saturday, but the worst had blown through by daybreak. As stated earlier, February is generally an off-season for arena-level touring acts, with the big buildings heavily booked with sports tenants and family shows. Those major acts that are on the road tend to be in warmer areas, and this weekend in particular acts appearing at the Grammys often route toward the Western sector of the country. An exception would be Mumford & Sons, who dodged a bullet by playing TD Garden in Boston and Barclays Center in Brooklyn earlier in the week, though they return to Barclays for a second play on Tuesday.