LAWRENCE, KS – Downtown Lawrence has more than five live music venues now in full operation after 16 months of a global pandemic. Residents and business owners have worked hard to obey mandates, allowing for most businesses to reopen at full capacity. The month of July was a critical turning point for local artists. The reopening of many downtown music venues has allowed Lawrence residents and aspiring artists to reconnect with each other again, after over a year.
While most artists were able to tend to their fans and followers online, live music opportunities are the best way to reach an unfamiliar audience. According to World Economic Forum, live music “makes up over 50% of total revenues and is derived mainly from sales of tickets to live performances.” This additional revenue was especially important for the continuing of local music venues like The Jazzhaus, Replay Lounge, The Granada, and Gaslight Gardens on Massachusetts Street. Street performances, garage bands, and soundcloud have become increasingly more popular throughout the pandemic. But many frequent show-goers insist there is nothing like being fully immersed in the company and sounds of a live artist.
Brennan Patty, 21, is a frequent visitor at Replay Lounge, more so after the pandemic. Before Covid, Patty saw a few of her favorite rappers at the Granada, including Roddy Rich and Wiz Khalifa. More recently, Patty spends about three nights a month at live shows downtown. She says it’s a great reason to get out with your friends and into the heart of Lawrence.
According to Patty, “The pandemic has really changed the way we interact with each other, even strangers. Getting out of the house and spending time with my people is something we waited a long time for. Going to the bars is fun too, but live music makes the whole experience. We never really know what the vibe will be.”
Replay Lounge has 17 events in July (see calendar below) including live guests. Replay Lounge is located on 10th and Massachusetts Street. Some of the live music opportunities throughout July include genres like punk, rock, afrobeat, jazz, choir, folk, performing arts, and DJ guests. They are likely to welcome in people from all kinds of musical backgrounds and interests.
Mason Metzgar, 24, a recent graduate from KU, has spent the last five years navigating Lawrence. She works as a bartender in Downtown Lawrence.
“I have seen it all. I’ve been to most of the restaurants, probably all of the bars, and have been on the other side, too, as a bartender myself,” Metzgar said.
“The pandemic really slowed Lawrence down. It made it so much harder to enjoy my last year here. This summer was the first time in a while that Lawrence has actually felt like Lawrence, in all its uniqueness. As my time here gets shorter I value opportunities like music to get better acquainted with all kinds of people. I have even found new local artists that I love and will continue to listen to – It’s all about the experience for me,” said Metzgar.
Lawrence live music venues are slowly starting to fill up again after over 16 months without performances. This has impacted residents and artists in numerous ways. Previous stay-at-home mandates affected social skills and sense of belonging for some residents. The inability to perform and get revenue from sales affected local artist’s and businesses’ income.
As August quickly approaches and KU students are welcomed back to Lawrence, businesses are sure to see new faces downtown. Live music is a great way to spend time with friends, have a drink, become familiar with new artists, and support your local businesses.