It has been 3,552 hours, in other words 148 days or if you prefer 21 whole weeks since I’ve been to a gig. Not that I’m counting. The last was at The Hunter Club in Bury St Edmunds, it was the final heat of BurySOUND 2020. However, Saturday night at Chelmsford City Racecourse could not have been more different. This was a Car Park Party!
In truth I was very curious to see how events like these would work ever since they were first advertised at the beginning of July. Some Drive-in style events have fallen by the wayside, others have been cut back, leaving Car Park Party and OEP Live’s gigs in Lavenham the only ones left to the best of my knowledge.
The concept is clever. A portable product which can arrive at a venue with a big enough car park for the audience to be safely placed and who can listen to the music on their car radios.
On arrival we drove almost the full seven furlongs around the race course, under the tunnel and into the arena where friendly car parking staff guided us into the next available space. Each car suitably spaced to allow ample social distancing.
We were treated to a cheesy warm up show – the presenter’s words, not mine – but sometimes in life you need cheese! The warm-up included a photo competition – you entered on social media, a quiz and car-robics to get us limbered up for the main show.
Lest there be any confusion the lead singer of Massaoke explained that they were the band and that we were the singers before taking us off through a series of songs from musicals both old and new.
Everything from The Greatest Showman through Abba, the obligatory Let It Go from Frozen and of course Grease – we especially liked the blue boy lyrics and the pink girl lyrics on the screen! From The Sound of Music to Hamilton there was literally something for every generation.
The band were thrown into total confusion when they played Somewhere Over The Rainbow – the whole audience were no longer looking at the stage. Oblivious to the band, behind them, mother nature had painted a rainbow in the threatening looking easterly sky.
The highlight of the night for us was Time Warp – totally re-written to be car park friendly: We indicated left, we indicated right, put our hazard lights on and gave our windscreen a wipe…. you get my drift! With the windows open you realised you were not the only non-singer in the park as we all belted out the words, laughed and enjoyed ourselves. Suddenly after 21 weeks we were having fun and it felt so good.
This was a well thought out, well organised, safe event proving that it can be done. I am not privy to the organisers accounts so cannot comment on whether these are financially viable events or not. And no, the experience was not in any way similar to a regular outdoor gig, it didn’t try to be. It was a different experience and if that is what we need to do for now to be safe when having fun, then so be it.
One thing we all need to learn to do better is honking the car horn in time to the music!