Music News: From Smash Mouth at Sturgis to illegal raves in Europe, music draws thousands outdoors

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An illicit outdoor techno party near Paris, August 2020.
An illicit outdoor techno party near Paris, August 2020. (GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images)
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From Smash Mouth at Sturgis to illegal raves in Europe, music draws thousands outdoors
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"F--k that COVID s--t," in the (redacted) words of Smash Mouth vocalist Steve Harwell. That was the sentiment he shared with fans at a Sunday night show in Sturgis, South Dakota, where 250,000 motorcycle enthusiasts have gathered for the annual rally. Live music has always been a big part of the Sturgis experience, and that's not changing with the pandemic; this year's typically rock-heavy lineup also includes Quiet Riot, 38 Special, Night Ranger, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and the Reverend Horton Heat.

"We're all here together now and we're being human once again," said Harwell to an outdoor crowd where masks were little in evidence. Some concerts are happening indoors, and there aren't many masks to be seen there either.

While Europe has the pandemic under considerably tighter control than the United States right now, gatherings of over 1,000 are generally prohibited — especially if there's alcohol and dancing, both of which relax inhibitions and increase the risk of community spread through physical contact. That's why the illegal raves currently sweeping the continent are being organized in strict secrecy. Invites go through encrypted messaging apps and cover charges get paid online. Authorities are weighing enforcement measures as the raves enrage residents — especially older and more vulnerable neighbors — who've been in lockdown for months.

"I don't give a damn," a Swiss college student told the New York Times. "Of course this virus scares me, but I've got to enjoy my twenties."

Meanwhile, around the world live music is continue to emerge outdoors with varying setups that typically include limited capacity and social distancing; at a recent concert in Newcastle, attendees were placed on 500 socially distanced metal platforms.

Whether sketchy or safe, the events are demonstrating just how acutely musicians and fans have been longing for connection. "Last night was magical," wrote Minneapolis singer Leslie Vincent after playing a Monday night record release show under a tent at the "drive in or dine out" venue Crooners. "We sold it oooooooout and it was wild. I'm absolutely exhausted today but my heart is overflowing."


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