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The concert industry is increasingly banking on outdoor concerts

Like many of our listeners, this week we're looking forward to the return of Mitten Fest, the annual cold-weather music festival outside of Burnhearts in Bay View. For those of us who have been skittish about seeing indoor concerts amid the continued Omicron surge, it's a chance to check out some great live music in a lower-risk environment than a crowded club or theater.

While Mitten Fest is the only major outdoor concert in Milwaukee this month, it's just one of many outdoor concerts the city is expected to see this year. That's in part, as Piet explains on this week's episode, because the concert industry is increasingly banking on outdoor concerts as a safer, most logistical alternative amid the pandemic. Last week pop star Halsey made a big point of stating that all shows on their upcoming tour ( including one at Summerfest) would take place at outdoor venues. And previously The Weeknd gambled on rescheduling his tour of mostly indoor arenas at outdoor stadiums.

Summerfest's BMO Harris Pavilion | Photo courtesy Summerfest

That push toward more outdoor shows means it's likely to be a big year for Summerfest's American Family Insurance Amphitheater and BMO Harris Pavilion, both of which have already announced some shows outside of Summerfest, including a Haim concert at the BMO Harris Pavilion and a just-announced Josh Groban concert at the amphitheater.

That's not to say indoor shows are going anywhere, of course. Dua Lipa, Tyler, The Creator, Elton John, Imagine Dragons and Journey are all scheduled to play Fiserv Forum this spring, and most of those shows are selling well. But, as Piet notes, many concerts are still experiencing high levels of no shows, and some concerts aren't selling like you might have expected them to before the pandemic. For instance, many tickets are still available for Bon Jovi's Fiserv Forum performance April 5. Audience age seems to be a big factor: touring artists with predominantly younger fans are doing just fine; artists with older draws may be feeling the effects of the pandemic more.

You can hear us get into all of this on this week's episode below.