OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — On Thursday morning, DCF Concerts announced a June 19 date at the Diamond Ballroom for Dirty Honey, whose single, “California Dreamin’,” is not a Mamas and the Papas cover and it rocks the way California bands did during the 1980s glorious glam days of the Sunset Strip.
David Fitzgerald of DCF Concerts has lived and worked in concert promotion since the days when the bands that inspired Dirty Honey were going multi-platinum. His business is one of the most careful balancing acts in entertainment, one in which Fitzgerald has to be prepared to lose his shirt on a failed show every time he books a new gig.
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Dirty Honey is not the first show DCF promoted since the COVID-19 pandemic, but it reflects how things have changed in Fitzgerald’s business since the virus began spreading in early 2020.
“We’ve been doing shows at the diamond ballroom since late-October, early November — not a whole lot, just a handful,” Fitzgerald said.“You know, a few of the hard rock bands that just went out and did a few dates, like Steel Panther, we’ve got a May 26 date with Corey Taylor, who’s the lead singer of Slipknot.
“But the most of the bands we’re doing are just these guys from Texas, the country guys that are driving up on the weekends and in their vans and their trailers — nothing super-big, and all of them have been at reduced capacity,” he said. “Diamond Ballroom’s capacity is about 3,000. We haven’t had a show in there that we’ve sold more than 1,000 tickets.”
Staging a concert for 1,000 people costs the same as doing it for 3,000, but the responsibilities in mid-2021 are different from the top-of-head concerns of two years ago.
“We do temp checks on everybody before they enter, we make sure everybody wears a mask when they come into the facility,” Fitzgerald said. “Obviously you can’t enforce keeping a mask on while you’re drinking a beverage, but we do our best to make sure that, you know, we’ve got plenty of sanitizing stations around, we’ve got hand sanitizer at every single bar.
“We have dedicated staff that does nothing but walk around and clean, and I’m not talking like our normal like your busboys or barback-type guys,” he said. “I’ve got guys that wear shirts that say ‘Sanitization Crew,’ and they go around and they’re cleaning the box office and cleaning off the bars and cleaning off, you know, the ATM and anywhere people are — that’s all they do, all night long.”
While bookings for shows have increased nationwide in recent weeks, a byproduct of increased vaccinations, there is no consensus on what concerts will look like by this time next year.
Superannuated boy band the Backstreet Boys postponed a planned arena tour for 2021, pushing dates as many as 14 months past the originally scheduled show. For Oklahoma City fans who still “want it that way,” Backstreet will be back eventually, playing Sept. 14, 2022 at whatever Chesapeake Energy Arena will be called by then.
Fitzgerald also books shows there, but the majority of his work is at mid-sized venues like Diamond Ballroom, the Tulsa Theater (formerly The Brady Theater) and The Cotillion in Wichita, Kansas. In Wichita, capacity caps kept attendance at The Cotillion at 50 until just a few weeks ago, and seat spacing at the Tulsa Theater simply made it too risky to book shows there.
While he hopes to be able to book full-capacity shows in Wichita by July 5, there are no guarantees. Fitzgerald said the Diamond allows for people to distance, which made it a better proposition than either The Cotillion or the Tulsa Theater, where it makes no financial sense to book a show and sell only 500 seats.
But like he has throughout his career, Fitzgerald is playing the long game.
“What’s really interesting right now is that everybody’s like, ‘Oh, well, you’re starting to book a bunch of shows — this is great, everything’s back to normal.’ And the truth of the matter is, we’re far from normal,” Fitzgerald said. “I mean, it’s gonna be late into 2022 or 2023 before we recover from this.”
“Weirdlesque,” a surreal, sometimes ridiculous version of the fine art of burlesque, will be performed by Oklahoma City’s Terre Rouge 8 p.m. Saturday at Tower Theatre, 425 NW 23rd St. Tickets are sold in groups of two, four, and six. Visit towertheatreokc.com.
Last Updated May 6, 2021, 8:39 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor