After a year of no crowds, concerts, and no Instagram photos of influencers in sheer kaftans on grassy fields, musical festivals are returning — and to a somewhat horrifying degree. This past weekend, Lollapalooza opened its, um, fences once again in Chicago, expecting to attract the usual 100,000 concert goers a day. But what looked like nature healing (and bucket hats returning) actually appeared to be a breeding ground for the extremely viral Delta variant of COVID-19.
Over the weekend, a number of big-name headliners took the Lollapalooza stage: from Miley Cyrus, to the Foo Fighters, to Megan Thee Stallion, who all came vaccinated and ready to rage in Grant Park. Although the festival reported that 90% of first-day attendees showed proof of vaccination, now-viral (and deeply concerning) photos of the festival show attendees packed in like sardines. (It should be noted that as of now, the Delta variant is reportedly the most viral mutation of COVID-19, often reaching vaccinated people, too, in what are called breakthrough cases.)
So for those of us watching at home, we felt excitement! Horror! Rage! And the uncomfortable laughter elicited by many, many memes.
Some focused on the sheer horror of the number of people pictured. And pointed out that, frankly, even without a worldwide pandemic that is killing thousands of people by the day, this does not look like a good time:
Others, however, found exciting new ways to talk about COVID variants, and how they must have been raging along with the other bajillion people at Lollapalooza:
I really cannot believe the lineup so many of you are risking Covid for at Lollapalooza. Like, if I’m getting the Delta Variant, it sure as shit will not be for Limp Bizkit…— The Sassiest Semite (@LittleMissLizz) July 31, 2021
Unfortunately for those of us that don't enjoy seeing mass crowds during a pandemic, Lollapalooza is not the only music festival happening this COVID-filled season. Last week, Rolling Loud returned to Miami (despite DaBaby's recent homophobic comments) and will continue with other dates. Bonnaroo, Governors Ball, Electric Zoo, Austin City Limits, Outside Lands, Burning Man, and Hot 97's Summer Jam will all host events this year, too. Fortunately, there are several large crowd festivals shuttering their doors (gates? fences?) in the name of safety: Coachella, Stagecoach, and Glastonbury won't be returning until 2022.
Like Lollapalooza, entry into these events will (hopefully) include proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative COVID test taken at least 72 hours beforehand. Organizers, also like Lollapalooza, will probably go as far as to consistently report how many of their attendees were vaccinated in an effort to quell concerns over the virus spreading. But this never accounts for those breakthrough cases, or the ever-changing CDC recommendations around mask-wearing, making festivals a veritable breeding ground for COVID's now-growing list of mutations.
For those attending music festivals this summer, we wish you safety, good vibes, and maybe some social distancing (just, like, a few inches between humans, at least).