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Inside the Sefton Park Pilot Gig with West Cumbrian Georgia

22-year-old Georgia Cattanach is an Egremont-based student at the University of Liverpool, she is currently studying for a masters degree in a creative industry subject. Georgia is passionate about the live music scene in the UK and recently attended one of the Government's Liverpool ‘pilot gigs’ at Sefton Park.

We caught up with Georgia to talk about her experience at the event and her views on the future of the live events industry post-Covid...

What are ‘pilot gigs’?

The UK Government announced a series of pilot events based in Liverpool that would be taking place for scientists to conduct research into the way Covid-19 might spread in a live music event.

Recently, news broke of the results of these events, showing that live music events were ‘no riskier than going food shopping'.

Georgia explained that there were a series of new rules put in place to mimic what a return to live music might be like. These rules included a PCR test on the day of the event, a lateral flow test before and after the event, and a PCR again, 5 days after the event had taken place.

‘I was a bit apprehensive at first and a bit paranoid to go, because it was one of a kind. But because of the testing, the 2 lateral flow tests before and after the gig and 2 PCR tests, the rules and regulations felt safe and once you got in there it was insane.’

The Sefton Park gig was run exclusively for residents of Liverpool only and had a line-up featuring Blossoms, The Lathums, and singer-songwriter Zuzu.

‘The gig was announced 2 weeks before it actually went ahead, you had to fill out a questionnaire when applying for tickets and you had to be a Liverpool resident registered with a GP in Liverpool. I was really interested in the line-up when I saw it come out, so I was like, that’s it, I’m getting a ticket!’

The gig was set out as normal as possible. Georgia described the setup as ‘quite like a festival layout’ with places to eat, portaloos and places to get drinks. She also felt that the new regulations didn’t have much of an effect on eventgoers and herself alike.

‘Everybody was that hungry for a bit of normality that having to do a test for Covid was just part of the experience. It worked, it was proven to have worked, so if that was to happen for every other gig then I’d take it and I think a lot of other people would too.’

What was it like returning to the live music environment?

While many of us have been predicting what it might be like to step back into festival or live music setting once again, for Georgia, it was an intense and emotional time.

She expressed that eventgoers would often 'look at each other in disbelief' and that it was almost 'like an out-of-body experience'. Georgia also felt that the event had a positive effect on her mental health.

‘The whole going through the gates, getting the tickets scanned…the overall experience was absolutely incredible. To see that many people all wanting the same thing…well the energy from the crowd was intense. There were pints being thrown (the classic) people falling over and all I could think was ‘I was only social distancing yesterday and now I’m stood in a crowd with 5000 people’ it was unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable.’

After the event, the emotional effect of returning to the live music scene stuck with Georgia.

‘I was so overwhelmed, I think I cried for like 3 days afterwards I couldn’t stop myself from tearing up randomly, walking out of it I thought to myself there’s got to be more of these events to trial them and see if they work. It was such an incredible experience to be a part of.’

Why is it important for live events to return?

The live events industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, with many venues struggling to stay open and artists unable to tour. But it’s not just the industry struggling, many live music lovers have felt the struggle over the past year as they have missed out on the events they love which has taken its toll. For Georgia, this was exactly the case.

‘I went to my first gig at age 10 or 11 and every year since I’ve been going to a different one, the majority of my friends I’ve met through gigs and we’ve travelled all over the country to different shows, getting live events back would be getting back a huge part of my life.’

Despite the struggles of the past year, Georgia remains hopeful for the future and the return of live music and events to be sooner rather than later and reminded us that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s important to remember that lockdowns and restrictions won’t last forever.

‘’It's ok to be nervous to go back to these things and they are really overwhelming, but once you are back there it is the best experience in the world. I would encourage people to go to these live events and go to small events and grassroots venues which are the ones that are suffering the most.’

Reflecting on her experience of the pilot, Georgia expressed that she would absolutely go again to future pilot gigs if they turned up near her.

‘I would urge anyone else with a pilot event in their area to get involved, we still don’t know if things are going to get postponed, so if pilot events pop up in the Cumbria area, just go for it if you’re interested.’

We want to thank Georgia again for taking the time out to speak with us about her experiences at Sefton Park.

Would you go to a pilot event? Let us know in the comments below!

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