The Lot: Helping Local Music Groups Around St. Louis
You’re standing in the crowd, in front of the stage, at a concert. The music is so loud, but it’s your favorite song, the one that made you want to see this band. People around you are also dancing and moving with the music, bumping into one another, and you are all pressed shoulder to shoulder. There are hands raised in the air. The song is so good you don’t want it to end. This scene is a fading dream for those who enjoyed live music pre-COVID-19. For the music fan, the thrill of live music is one of many experiences they look forward to getting back to, but for many music groups these shows are their main avenue for success and recognition.
Many types of events have made easy transitions to the virtual world, including some concerts, but the fact still stands that many smaller music groups rely on live concerts to attract new listeners. Fortunately, there are people who have recognized this need, not only for the fans, but for the musicians, and they have begun to look for ways to boost the lesser known artists. Jamo Presents, an independent concert promoter and venue management company based in St. Louis, has been working with local groups since 2013. This year they set the bar even higher by initiating a pop-up venue called The Lot. This company has found a way to host outdoor music concerts while also following Missouri’s COVID safety precautions. The result has allowed some of St. Louis’s local bands to get back to the stage and back to growing their fanbase.
On October 3rd of this year, The Lot welcomed Old Salt Union, a group based out of Belleville, IL. In the past, the band has played many shows throughout St. Louis, and their fans were there to welcome them back by selling out the show.
“For a grass roots band like us,” Jesse Farrar of Old Salt Union explains, “shows are everything.” Some musicians have been able to gain their following through an online presence, but for many, this is not the story. They rely on live shows, where they can bring their music to new towns, and where the audience can hear them live and interact with the band. “Before COVID, we were playing 450 shows a year,” he says. “We’ve played 2 in the last six months.”
Old Salt Union recently played at the Wild Woods Festival in Wausau, Wisconsin. The Wild Woods Festival held outdoor concerts drive-in style, where the audience parked their cars in assigned spaces in front of a stage. Not only have drive-ins been making a comeback, but the live music scene has begun to catch on to their social distancing capabilities.
The Lot is located just south of Busch Stadium, where audience members get a view of downtown and the Arch that reaches across the skyline. Purchasing a ticket reserves an 8’ x 8’ roped off section of astroturf, also known as a “pod”. Each pod has a maximum
occupancy of 4 people with a flat rate for the space. Food can be pre-ordered prior to the concert, and it is delivered to the pod during the show. Drinks can also be ordered, before and during concerts. Jamo Presents ensured that all safety precautions would be followed by separating the pods in a way that there are one direction aisles that lead to the bathrooms and exits, and masks are required everywhere outside of the personal pods. The setup allows for an enjoyable and yet safe music experience.
“Live concerts are vital,” Jesse says. “You get out, you get in front of people and it's the best thing for you if you’re a growing band, so you see a lot of people coming up with interesting ways to continue to put on shows, and The Lot was no different.”