We were just talking about drive-ins and their practical applications to our new socially distant world, when the next thing we know, nonprofit promotions outfit AMP Concerts shoots us a little news release about an upcoming real-life concert—their first this summer thanks to stupid COVID-19.
"We're really excited to announce a return to live music next weekend at our first ever drive-in concert featuring Detroit Lightning," it reads, and thanks to an assist from the Santa Fe Community College, the show's good to go, complete with planned vehicle distancing, tailgating and even an FM broadcast for people who maybe want to park way in the back and make out; y'know, the way drive-ins were intended to be used.
Yeah, we've all been feeling a little stream fatigue of late, what with every musician who ever so much as looked at a piano taking their shows to Facebook and Instagram and YouTube and Twitch and whatever else. But as we all make virtual excuses to not go to our friends shows, and musicians/vocalists raise concerns over the spread of COVID-19—particularly as it applies to performing en masse—getting the band back together remains complicated.
According to AMP's Santa Fe head Jamie Lenfestey, plans for this show have been in the works for some time.
"I think the presumption a lot of people had [as of a few weeks ago] was that a drive-in would be approved, but then we were all startled when the Fort Union Drive-In [in Las Vegas, New Mexico] was told they could not open," he tells SFR. As you may have read in SFR recently, Fort Union did open in the end, and for his part, Lenfestey drafted and submitted a detailed plan to the state for how AMP would safely run the upcoming Detroit Lightning show.
"I got a message back saying that our plan meets the next round of CSPs [COVID Safe Practices], and we were good to go," he explains. "We've got the plan in place and we're ready to do this."
Interestingly enough, Lenfestey says, some items from his plan seem to have made their way into Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's most recent COVID-19 proclamation.
Detroit Lightning, meanwhile, is also ready to do this.
"I think we're going to practice in my yard," drummer Paul Groetzinger tells SFR of the upcoming reunion featuring himself and bandmates Ben Wright, Josh Martin and Kevin Zoernig, "and then we're going to be at least six feet apart onstage."
As any regular reader of SFR knows, Groetzinger—also of celebrated weirdo rock trio D Numbers—has a nice plot of land outside town. Practicing on that acreage sounds like a dream, as does the band's commitment to keeping it distant.
"It's a proof-of-concept test," says AMP founder Neal Copperman. "We have feelers out in other locations for drive-ins, but [the Santa Fe Community College] was the most responsive to working it to completion."
According to Copperman, each car will account for six parking spaces. Not only does this keep carloads of people away from one another, it allows for the space to tailgate. Attendees will be required to bring masks and wear them in communal areas, but not in their designated vehicle area. There will also be food trucks during the show, though attendees can bring their own tailgating supplies.
Additionally, a fully-full-on stage will be erected by Santa Fe Audio Visual and we'll get that sweet, sweet professional sound for which AMP shows are known; y'all ever been to the free Railyard summer series? Yeah. It's a big deal—and it's also providing work for people.
This show, however, is not free (which, like, don't complain about that), and is also limited to 113 cars. So you'll need to act fast and get tickets here in advance—AMP will not facilitate ticket sales onsite. There are also a few tiers and pricing options based on proximity to the stage, so just choose whatever suits your needs best—and don't show up concert night all acting like SFR didn't tell you the deal.
Otherwise, expect more non-traditional concert and movie experiences from AMP this summer. Lenfestey is staying mum on the details for now, but if all goes well at the Detroit Lightning show, we might regain some semblance of social culture in Santa Fe this year after all.
"We're going to lose money doing it, but we're eager to present music again," Lenfestey says. "That's what we do, and it's what we've been saying all along—AMP stands ready."
AMP Concerts Drive-In with Detroit Lightning
8 pm Saturday June 20
$50-$120 (per carload; service charges apply)
Santa Fe Community College, 6401 Richards Ave.