Lettuce and Umphrey’s McGee, two established rock bands that had planned to celebrate the arrival of the new year with their Miami fans, have decided to pull the plug on their respective end-of-the-year concert runs.
Veteran prog-rock-meets-jam outfit Umphrey’s McGee was scheduled to headline a trio of shows at the Fillmore Miami Beach on December 30, 31, and January 1. A statement from the band
shared to its social-media pages directly cites the recent surge of COVID-19 cases as the reason for the cancellations.
“Rapidly spiking case counts across the country are making large indoor gatherings riskier, even more so as people gather for the holidays and increase travel. The complexities of this virus, the logistics of event production, and the increasing difficulties of access to timely testing (for band/crew, venue staff, and fans for entry) remain an unending battle,” the band said in a statement. “As a growing circle of family, friends and peers continue to contract the virus, UM and our promoters are in agreement that pulling off safe, responsible, and successful events is not realistic.”
Lettuce followed suit, revealing that it would postpone
its upcoming run of Florida shows, which had included two nights at the North Beach Bandshell on December 31 and January 1 (with Flamingosis as the opening act). The funk-fusion band did not mention COVID-19 in its announcement but did confirm the two shows would be rescheduled with an announcement of the new dates to be made soon.
GMP Live is a co-producer for the two Lettuce shows at the North Beach Bandshell in partnership with the Rhythm Foundation. It was at the outdoor beachfront venue along Collins Avenue where Plotnicki and his brother welcomed fans from across the country for the inaugural two-day North Beach Music Festival earlier this month.
“I am disappointed, but these are the COVID times we live in,” GMP Live’s Gideon Plotnicki
tells New Times
. “The [Lettuce] shows did indeed seem like they would move forward since we were using an outdoor venue, and we had decided to sell a few hundred tickets fewer than the venue’s legal capacity, so distancing would have been possible.”
Lettuce and Umphrey’s McGee are not the only holiday events in the South Florida region that have been canceled this week as cases of the highly virulent but seemingly less deadly Omicron variant
continue to spread. iHeartRadio’s Jingle Ball all-star concert, scheduled for December 19 at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, was canceled the morning of the event
The past week has been riddled with an all-too-familiar feeling of collective anxiety for those who still work in the concert industry. Venues and promoters across the nation are once again seeing the domino-effect trend of concert cancellations from New York City to Denver, adding more injury to an already weakened live-events industry that has spent the year slowly restarting after shutting down indefinitely in March 2020.
On a local level, Omicron's surprisingly quick spread throughout the region has resulted in unusually long COVID testing lines
across Miami-Dade leading up to the holidays.
“I think this new Omicron variant is spreading so rapidly that it has caught the industry by surprise. Regardless of vaccines and treatments that exist, the fact is, a lot of fans — and artists — are still not 100 percent comfortable with indoor shows, and Omicron has made that collective anxiety escalate and forced the industry to unwind plans that were months — if not years— in the making,” Plotnicki says.
“Many of the New Year’s Eve concert cancellations that happened nationwide [this week] were precautionary cancellations," he adds. "And I fully support that for indoor venues during this time of confusion. Lettuce’s cancellation is for a few specific reasons, but I wouldn’t call it a precautionary cancellation, since all were comfortable with the outdoor environment; it’s simply unfortunate timing.”