The new norm? What it’s like going to a socially distanced festival.

The new norm? What it’s like going to a socially distanced festival.

The Summer Sounds Festival in Adelaide offered music lovers the chance to finally experience something that has been sorely missed: live music. (Image source: Ocean Alley)

By Alexandra Bull | @ally_bull19

One of the things that has been notably absent during the COVID-19 pandemic are concerts and festivals, with multitudes of artists having to postpone and cancel shows over the last year.

As someone who has been an avid concertgoer since the age of thirteen, missing out on several concerts last year due to the pandemic was slightly harder than I would care to admit.

The Summer Sounds Festival held over the month of January was socially distanced, hosting the likes of Hayden James, Ocean Alley, Ruel and Cub Sport, just to name a few.

The festival aimed to finally provide live music following COVID-19 social distancing rules, while still providing a good time, and it did exactly that.

Needless to say, I was rather excited when this month-long festival was announced.

It has been many moons since I sang songs very badly with some of my best friends wearing extremely uncomfortable shoes. Along with spending half my savings account on food and drinks, these are some of the memories I have missed making the most throughout the pandemic.

With the array of artists to choose from, I was faced with one single dilemma: who was I going to see? After some serious contemplation, I eventually settled on Ocean Alley and Ruby Fields, who I’ve seen more times than I can count, but there is nothing better than singing Confidence at the top of your lungs with your friends.

After the lack of live music over the past 12 months, the pod system at Summer Sounds sounded like a dream come true. Having the opportunity to see some incredible Australian musicians gave us some sense of normality in this crazy world that we are currently living in.

Pre-drinks were arranged, outfits were planned very far in advance and the classic, ‘Mum can you pick us up from the concert and can we get Maccas,’ was a phrase tossed around once or twice in the days leading up to the concert.

The pod system was something unique that most, if not everybody, attending the Summer Sounds Festival had probably never experienced before. While it was very different to your usual sweaty mosh pit, it allowed people to see and support live music, which was sorely missed during the pandemic.

In pods of two, four or six, groups were finally allowed to watch their favourite musicians do their thing, sing along to all their favourite songs, and finally, dance. Now, I may be a horrific dancer but there is something about dancing to Ruby Fields with your younger brother after not seeing any live music for several months that simply hits different.

Now, three of the things I always dread the most when going to a festival: waiting for the toilet, waiting for my food and waiting for my drinks. However, none of these were a bother when I was at Summer Sounds.

As capacity was limited and social distancing rules were strictly enforced, pods were grouped into their own sections, meaning you got your own block of toilets, which meant, yes you guessed it; no lines.

You may think that being able to see live music was the best thing about Summer Sounds but no. The best thing being able to use the bathroom without worrying if you would ever see your friends again after waiting in line for a whole set.

As for the food, the lines were short, but the food was even better, with the usual selection of burgers, AB packs and so much more. After much debate I found myself eating a burger from Gang Gang, and I have to be honest, it was probably some of the best festival food that I have ever had.

The organisers also implemented a way of getting your drinks that did not involve waiting in line with strangers, who yes you can have a good yarn to, but let’s be real, you’re probably never going to see them again and when organising a socially distant festival, it’s best to omit that from the plan.

Using the app My Venue, festival goers were able to order their own drinks to their respective pods. I only have one word for that: genius.

Reducing lines and interactions with strangers, your drinks were brought to you incredibly fast, meaning less time was spent worrying about whether you would ever get your beverages and more time discussing what songs Ocean Alley were going to sing, which believe me, was very in-depth discussion.

One of the best parts about live music being back: the preparation. The feeling of euphoria when trying to organise a couple of pre-drinks beforehand with your mates, whose house you’re going to and the frantic, ‘oi finish your drink the Uber is here,’ was a welcome experience when the time came.

Music brings people together. Being in a pod with five of your mates was one of the highlights in my life from the last year and I seriously encourage anybody who has the opportunity to attend these unique experiences to do so.

While the festival was obviously very different to your usual run-of-the-mill festival, there is no denying that having live music back is a welcome sight and one I will not be taking for granted ever again.

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