Barcelona’s Test Gig with 5,000 Fans a Roaring Success

At the end of March, Spanish authorities allowed 5,000 people to participate in a test gig in Barcelona. After a month, researchers found no sign of increased coronavirus infection linked to the event.

The concert took place at the Palau Sant Jordi arena, with the pop-rock band Love of Lesbian headlining the show. It served to test the safety of large events during the pandemic: data now shows the experiment worked.

Participants received a rapid antigen test with their tickets: they had to result negative for Covid-19 on the same day of the concert. They could then enjoy the show wearing face masks without the need for social distancing. And they did — during the gig, people danced and sang as they usually would have before the pandemic.

Infectious disease specialist Josep Maria Llibre presented the analysis results last week. At first, data had shown six positive cases among the gig-goers in the two weeks following the concert, with none of them requiring hospitalisation.

But further analysis revealed the event itself as not being the cause of four of those cases. Two cases remained, although there was no direct evidence linking them to the concert either.

“There is no sign that suggests transmission took place during the event,” Dr Llibre explained. He then described indoor live music events as safe if held with proper measures and correct ventilation.

Moreover, researchers found the rate of infection among participants to be half the rate of people of the same age in Barcelona in the same period.

Organisers were delighted to find about the gig’s outcomes. They believe it could help slowly restart cultural events, with the sector being one of the worst hit in this year of pandemic.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel”

Organiser, Jordi Herreruela

On that note, the headlining band also wanted to express hopeful and encouraging feelings. “We hope that from now on, after these excellent results, the world of culture will be listened to as it deserves to be,” Love of Lesbian tweeted after the gig.

Similar experiments occurred in the past months, as countries have been searching for ways to hold public events safely. Barcelona, for example, had already hosted a test gig last December. On that occasion, 500 people gathered at Sala Apolo to enjoy the show with no social distancing. It all went well in that case too.

Also, the Netherlands — where 1,500 people attended a festival in March —, and England started following the example. Last Sunday, 2nd May, Stockport band Blossoms headlined a show for 5,000 fans in Sefton Park, Liverpool.

Participants had to take a covid test before being admitted to the concert and another one after it. Then, they could enjoy the show without face masks nor social distancing. Both musicians and fans were incredibly euphoric.

Liverpool singer-songwriter Zuzu, who came on stage first, described the experience as unreal, comparing it to a jump out of an aeroplane. “It was incredibly emotional,” she said. “I tried to keep it together on stage. But during the last song I choked up, and when I came off stage, I’m not even ashamed to admit that I cried. I fully cried. It was amazing.”

Let’s hope these tests keep giving excellent results, to soon go back to enjoying live music shows. Because as Chloe, a fan at Sefton Park describing the experience, put it:

“You felt alive again. We need more. I’ve missed it a lot.”