Touring During A Pandemic

By Robb Flynn

The real-time story below is fucking disturbing, please read it.

To all my touring friends, crew members, crew friends, former crew, and bands.  If you are currently touring and exposed to a risk uncomfortable with you regarding Covid, I want to hear your story.  I plan on sharing your story in a follow-up Journal (as the person below has shared his), and will assume that you request anonymity unless you say otherwise.  I will not post your email or name.

I am interested in knowing the "on the ground" version of events.  I've seen A LOT, read A LOT, but I'm curious as top what you guys have to say.

I've also heard that some U.S. promoters are specifying that bands are required to sign a certain type of insurance waiver that indemnifies the promoter and band from getting sued in the event of covid, and that there is no pop-up to alert the fan that they are agreeing to this when they accept terms.

If anyone can clarify if this is true or not would be very helpful.

Again, just trying to get an "on the ground" version of events, and if you are questioning what is happening, please share your story.

Shared via Bob Lefsetz blog The Lefsetz Letter;

Touring during a Pandemic: My Breakthrough Covid Infection Story

I embarked on 2 month long tour through the US in early July and this week, 3 people took the rapid test and tested positive for Covid. Today is Saturday the 31st, and all members of the band and 16 crew members tested positive for Covid-19. All members of the tour were fully vaccinated.

I took a PCR test on Tuesday and the results came back with my worst fears were confirmed. The test the prior day revealed I have Covid. I received my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on May 4th and tested positive for Covid 19. So far, I’ve had a bad headache, muscle aches and nasal congestion. I’m day 3 since testing positive.

I’m sharing this story because I am watching my peers prepare for the return of national music tours. Many of my colleagues are overconfident that the vaccine will protect them from the virus. Furthermore, tour promoters are operating under the assumption that their backstage protocols will keep the venue and traveling crews safe.

Since our tour started in early July, many of the policies put in place by Live Nation were not being followed by local venues and touring staff. We have played four indoor concerts, and three of these venues did not require that concert attendees wear masks. On Sunday, July 24th, we played a show at the an indoor theater - the touring crew was not temperature checked upon arrival, catering was open, and catering staff were unmasked, and none of our tour members were required to mask up while backstage.

The music touring industry is operating under a risk assessment model issued at the beginning of the summer that is no longer accurate. In late spring 2021, live events opened up under the assumption that the vaccine is effective enough to protect people as they interact with the public. Now midway through summer, tours are playing shows in areas of the country experiencing surges of infection rates while local venue staff, touring crew members, and artists are testing positive.

Millions of people are under the assumption that attending a concert indoors, without masks, with other fully vaccinated concert attendees is perfectly safe. Even when following the CDC guidance, the Delta variant is outmaneuvering the vaccine. 81% of our fully vaccinated touring crew came down with breakthrough cases.

If you’re working at Lolla or Rolling Loud, mask up and exercise as much caution as possible. Delta is causing a lot of break through infections and the CDC has not been tracking these numbers.


I’m almost a full week into my self isolation. I’m feeling much better but I do lot want to get on a plane and return home if I am still shedding virus. The worst scenario I can think of is spreading this disease to my family.

After posting this, I received numerous messages from people confirming that there are other tours with positive cases. I don’t understand why every large tour doesn’t have a CCO on staff to conduct daily tests. A friend who is a VIP rep for Live Nation tells me it costs $200 per test per person and I can see employing a full time CCO would be expensive. However, is that cost higher than the cost of cancelling an entire tour and paying for 10 days of hotel rooms?

We need stricter guidelines if we want to return to our jobs full time. Sadly, my story is not unique.


I am still locked down. The people who tested negative were able to return home.

I’ve been symptom free for 12 hours: no more muscle or headaches, my congestion has cleared up, and my cough is almost gone.
I am scheduled to leave at the end of the week. Thankfully, I am symptom free but my biggest fear is that I will still be contagious when I am sent home. All the literature I’ve read from MIT and the NIH suggests that people with Delta carry 1000x the viral load than the original covid strain. My worst nightmare is bringing this disease home, infecting my family and anyone else I come into contact with.

I’ve received a disturbing amount of messages from touring crews who are in similar situations. They are reporting crews that are testing positive despite being fully vaxxed, venues not following covid safety procedures, tours not conducting daily testing or traveling with a Covid Compliance Officer, and tours being grounded without any explanation to the public.

I don’t have a solution for this, I just push buttons. But I do know that information needs to be shared between touring crews, with promoters and the public. This Delta surge is going to cause an untold amount of infections as every concert is now a potential super spreader event. People are so excited to return to live shows but without accurate information, ticket holders cannot make an informed decision.

I got through 16 months without catching Covid and I became infected within the first month of our tour. I followed the rules and I still couldn’t protect myself. The amount of people in my orbit who are vaccinated that caught Delta in the past week is making my head spin.

Bottom line: if you’re on tour, being extra diligent, especially if you’re traveling through hot spots. Make sure your tour has a contingency plan if and when someone tests positive (our tour did not). Make sure people on your team are following guidelines. Wash your hands and don’t forget to mask up.
Most importantly: If you are on tour and someone on your team tests positive, let people know. The lack of transparency is causing the virus to surge unchecked.


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