Virtual Shows And The Sound Of One Hand Clapping

Oh, hi there, I’ll be the applause coach for your next live from the living room, pandemic concert.

Oh, no, believe me, you need an applause coach - have you seen any of these online and self-isolated concerts? The artists pour their hearts out, ramp up to the end of the tune. Boom! Nailed it! To a rousing round of um…nothing.  To a Grand Canyon of… silence.  Thank God it only lasts 10 minutes!  Or so it seems.

These between tune awkward silences appear nightly on my laptop. They remind me of something but I can’t quite place it. Oh right!  A funeral! You know that moment at the service when someone tells a great story about our dearly departed and we all sit there wondering, “should we applaud?  Is applause appropriate?”  AWKWARD!

Look, I plan on being dead at my funeral, but that does not mean I want dead air.  I have instructed the event producer overseeing the production of my eventual passing that she is to insist on both storytelling and the right to applause. This was the only instruction given, that and to make sure the fucking crusts on the sandwiches are cut off.

Joel Plaskett's recent solo concert from an empty local coffee house in his Dartmouth neighbourhood featured applause sound effects recorded at what sounded like U2’s last show at Wembley. Joel would trigger it with a foot pedal at the end of the tune and then shyly smirk as he warmly acknowledged the, um, audience.

So, here’s the take away; To manage this silence you have to own it. Nod, right away, dive into another groove and start telling a story. If it’s not storytime, just move onto the next tune. Or have your co-quarantined road manager look to the comments section and read the feed.  “Big shout out from Bob in Saskatoon!”

Or you could just pretend nothing has changed.  “Awesome! You guys are great!  See you after at the merch table!”

Sheltered in Place,


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