Restrictions that barred in-person performances during the COVID-19 pandemic left musicians scrambling to find different ways to collaborate and communicate.
However, nothing is quite like the feeling of having a live audience, according to Apollo Suns. The psychedelic jazz-funk instrumental group will host their first major concert since they had to come home early from a North American tour in 2019.
They were on the road to play the American leg of their tour when Manitoba announced its first case of COVID-19. Not long after, shows were cancelled, and their manager told them that it was best to come home.
“We did a show in Fargo, St. Paul and then Omaha, Neb., and once we left Omaha, we got a call saying to come home,” Ed Durocher, bandleader of Apollo Suns, says. “What we thought would blow over in a couple weeks was going to last a lot longer.”
The band did their best to stay focused when they got home, even through the difficulties of lockdowns. They sent recordings back and forth to rehearse, focused on rhythms and bonded through online gaming to help the group stay connected.
“One thing we did a lot of was dissecting popular songs that we liked,” Durocher says. “Someone would pitch a song, and we would break it down to the smallest details and would discuss why these elements make the song so catchy. It’s very analytical.”
Apollo Suns were not the only group that had to change rehearsal tactics due to the multiple lockdowns. Cj Loane, a member of the Winnipeg-based, grunge-revival band The Bloodshots, says the band faced similar challenges.
“We couldn’t wait to get back at it. We couldn’t rehearse,” Loane says. “We were doing a lot of recording and sending them back and forth, but it just wasn’t the same.”
The Bloodshots are one of two opening acts for the upcoming Apollo Suns concert on Nov. 26 at The Park Theatre.
Not only did the musicians take advantage of the pandemic to rehearse and record more, but The Park Theatre also took the time to make some significant changes. Instead of having a front lobby, the space is now completely opened up – almost doubling its capacity.
As a result, Apollo Suns sold 600 tickets, 100 less than full capacity, because the band wanted to give the audience extra space.
Now that more people are vaccinated and venues are starting to reopen, musicians have a chance to move forward with their pre-pandemic plans.
“We had a tour planned that we had to cancel at the beginning of COVID, and a venue in Edmonton just emailed us saying that since they are opening up again, they would love for us to fulfill the spot we had to cancel,” Loane says.
Apollo Suns’ concert at The Park Theatre is on Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. Tickets for the show are sold out, but follow them on social media for future tour updates.
Published in Volume 76, Number 10 of The Uniter (November 18, 2021)