On Monday, April 20, a lineup of Minnesota musical artists will take the stage at Icehouse for the Bridge the Gap Benefit Concert. There are just a few twists.
There won’t be a live audience, none of the artists will be in the same place at the same time, and the entire stage will be fully sanitized between sets.
Clearly, this is a concert for the times.
The show, a joint effort by local analytics company Vēmos and Icehouse was conceived as a bit of bright light for a community that has been hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic — hospitality workers.
“My business partner Whitey [Larson, Vēmos president], and I were brainstorming how to rally the community,” Parag Shah, director of Vēmos, said. “How to provide something in this darkness that brings some entertainment.”
The pair started with virtual mixology and cooking classes for bartenders and chefs, but the idea of an online concert soon took shape. Icehouse, one of Vēmos’ clients, was the clear choice for the host, Shah said.
Thanks to Icehouse’s musical connections, a lineup quickly crystalized. The goal, Shah said, was to curate a “genre agnostic” collection of acts to fill the four-hour event (6 p.m. – 10 p.m.); something that would appeal to almost anyone with a musical bone in their body. With PaviElle, the4onthefloor, Dave King, DJ Fundo, and others hitting the stage, that goal seems to have been achieved.
Along with a killer lineup, the event organizers wanted to really sell an experience rather than just email blast links to PayPal or Venmo donation buckets. The base-tier ticket price, $11, holds special meaning.
“[It’s] the Minneapolis minimum wage,” Shah said. “A simple $11 ticket can buy one hour of work for people who have been displaced in the hospitality industry because of the shutdowns. That really resonated with a lot of people.”
Extending the feel-good community vibes, the event organizers have tapped a few local breweries — Falling Knife Brewing, Bent Paddle Brewing, and Utepils Brewing — for crowler and grolwer ticket packages. These tiers, with a unique access code to the concert stream and instructions for curbside pickup of your brew of choice, also benefit The Silver Linings Fund and The North Stands.
“There’s nothing better than beer, entertainment, and a concert at night,” Shah said.
In addition to providing the hookup to a refreshing concert beverage, the event organizers are hoping to make the experience as interactive as possible. While everything is getting wiped down between sets, there will be short sets by local comedians such as Dan Mogol. Viewers will also be able to comment and communicate with other virtual concert goers throughout the event.
“We need to work together as a community,” Shah said. “This is a time when we need to do that more than ever.”