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Spring Fever (I Got It Bad)

Mix co-editor Tom Kenny ruminates over a burning desire to go out and do stuff that is only exacerbated by the return of trade shows.

nab show, namm show, infocommOver the past month, I’ve been feeling this slow-building, now rapidly accelerating, need to bust out. To go see a concert. Sit down in a movie theater. Stay in a hotel. Hop on a plane. Plan a true, week-long vacation. Go see my daughter in Toronto. Fly to New York. Stop in Nashville on the way back. Sit back in a fine restaurant for a luxurious four or five hours with friends. Go to a Warriors game. Walk casually into a recording studio or dub stage. Did I mention going to a concert?

I have done a couple of those things over the course of the pandemic, most of them cautiously, depending on my waxing and waning level of Covid anxiety. I wouldn’t categorize any of my experiences since March 2020 as “busting out,” though I suppose going to two days of Lollapalooza last July might qualify, even if I was working on a story and spending much of each day in Chris Shepard’s American Mobile Studio truck. Countless times during the pandemic, I’ve had the urge to go out and kick up my heels, head for Hawaii, do something. I see other people out there at football games and packed into clubs. Hell, I’m late to the party.

But now it’s springtime—a time when animals have their babies, flowers begin to bloom, whales are in migration, baseball returns to the park, and…the first artists of the summer touring season take the stage. I am more than ready.

My mother used to call this restless, antsy, fidgety energy “spring fever.” Its a term you don’t hear much any more, especially once you leave the Midwest. I’m guessing that it is of the same family, and often the result of, “cabin fever.” Indiana winters get colder the closer you get to Lake Michigan, and with 12 kids in the house all winter long, I’m sure spring couldn’t come fast enough. I now think my mom must have encouraged the whole notion of spring fever; its meaning, in hindsight: “Please get out of the house!”

This year, springtime coincided with the easing of Covid restrictions and a general sense that “we can manage this bug.” Spring fever on steroids! Concerts and tours and festivals are back! Cue music!

The signs are everywhere.

Billie Eilish is out packing arenas after a two-year hiatus. (Speaking of spring fever, imagine being an 18-year-old emerging pop superstar, on top of the world, then suddenly getting your tour shut down. You think she was restless to get back?). Lady Gaga is scheduled for a Las Vegas residency in April, with Drake hitting town in July. Just the other day, the Rolling Stones announced a 14-show European tour called “Sixty,” in honor of the band’s 60th anniversary.

Just a couple days ago, about three months after postponing the show until April 3 and moving it to Las Vegas, the Recording Academy announced that Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish and BTS would be performing live at the Grammys. No doubt more will soon follow.

Think of all those road crews, all those audio professionals who have been out of work during the pandemic—you think they have spring fever? You think they want to bust out? You bet they do.

The whole industry is ready. It’s been more than two years since there has even been a meaningful trade show, and take a look at what lies ahead these next couple of months:

  • NAB Show: Las Vegas, April 23-27. Three months ago, exhibitors were pulling out of trade shows at the last-minute. Now NAB has seen exhibitors sign up as they get closer to the show.
  • Winter and Summer NAMM: Anaheim, Calif., June 3-5. NAMM was one of the first to postpone from winter to spring this year, making the decision to combine the Summer and Winter NAMM Shows this year, then go back to January in 2023. My guess is that the number of exhibitors and registrants will both rise the closer we get to June. Everybody is feeling the fever.
  • Infocomm: Las Vegas, June 8-10. During the pandemic, there were a surprising amount of audio/visual construction and installation projects completed.

Manufacturers continued to make products, designers and integrators continued to put them in, and now they get to meet up in-person, face to face, and look to the future.

We’re not out of the woods re: the pandemic, not when China is experiencing its highest rate of infection in more than a year and has locked down more than 30 million people. Not when Vladimir Putin has mobilized the Russian war machine and taken aim at Ukraine.

Still, there is hope right now; there is progress. My advice to everyone: Get out! Go see some live music! Support your live sound colleagues. I sure plan to. But in the meantime, I’m getting on a plane tonight with my daughter Jesse, and hooking up with my other daughter, Molly, who is coming down from Toronto. We haven’t seen her in more than two years. We are all excited. So I’m busting out in baby steps, but they are steps nonetheless. I can’t wait to see how fast I’m running by summer.