Indie rockers “Love of Lesbian,” one of Spain’s most popular current bands, were onstage. A crowd of 5,000 fans was in the house.
But the “concert” was one night only, a clinical trial set up with data to be tracked and assessed regarding the safety of possible future events.
Before the experiment, which was conducted in Barcelona, every attendee underwent mass screening and antigen tests. They were then required to wear FPP2 surgical masks.
For many of the young people in the audience, it was the first semblance of a large group social activity they had experienced in over a year, as Spain has taken one of the hardest lines of any nation in the world with respect to lockdowns. In-home quarantines, general confinement, social distancing, and minimal real-world social interaction have been the norm there.
“I’m so very, very excited. It’s been 18 months since we’ve been on stage and one of us up here is in tears!” lead singer Santi Balmes shouted to the crowd after the first song, inspired by the pandemic, called, “Nobody in the Streets.”
As the band played, the crowd was even allowed to leave the stands and gather in front of the stage, mosh-pit style.
The event was organized by a normally unlikely pair: a group of music promoters and Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, just north of Barcelona. The hospital, which is overseeing research, made sure all required protocols were followed.
“We expect it to be completely safe,” said Josep Maria Llibre, a doctor at the hospital. “Over the next 14 days, we will look at how many of the audience test positive for COVID and will report back.”
Some of the measures taken for the event included the use of a special ventilation system, which was touted as making the air quality and safety “superior to a private home.” On the morning of the concert, dance floors at three long-closed Barcelona nightclubs were turned into field hospitals. Nurses administered antigen tests to potential attendees inside white canvas enclosures. Those who tested negative received an entry pass via an app downloaded on their phones.
Ventura Barba, executive director of Barcelona’s Sonar festival, which is one of the organizers, said one of the aims of the concert/clinical trial was “to discover a way in which we can coexist with COVID and hold concerts which are completely safe.” 
The European music industry lost 76 percent of its earnings in 2020, according to a study published by Spain’s Music Federation.

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