Michaelson: How Will This End?

Phoebe Bridgers said it best with her song “I Know The End”— I just don’t know if I am ready to face the truth.

Gavin Michaelson

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, I have been extremely cautious and skeptical of public events, and have restrained myself from going out into the public unless absolutely necessary. We all have different definitions of necessary. Even when the pandemic was at its worst, bars were still overcrowded, parties still happened and nightclubs stayed open (without a mask in sight, might I add). For me, when I saw the tour dates for Phoebe Bridger’s “Punisher” tour, I knew that, for me, it was a necessity. This was my first “big” event since the pandemic began and honestly, I was really nervous. I hadn’t been to a concert in years, and with COVID-19 remaining a very prevalent issue, I felt a plethora of conflicting emotions and feelings. I felt nervous, excited, but most of all, I felt guilty. I felt guilty because even though I am fully vaccinated and wear a mask wherever I go, I could still be putting myself and others at risk. Furthermore, I felt hypocritical for buying tickets, but at the time, the COVID-19 pandemic had appeared to be heading in a positive direction (which was very short-lived).

However, when the venue of the concert changed and the entry rules improved, I felt much more comfortable going. The concert was originally at the Palace Theater in St. Paul, but due to COVID-19 and other health issues, all shows were moved to an outdoor venue, and later required vaccinations and masks. Suddenly, my worries were lessened, and I could finally focus on the matter at hand: I was seeing Phoebe Bridgers. I have been obsessed with her music for the longest time, and when she released Punisher in the summer of 2020, I was hooked. It easily became one of my favorite albums of all time. So, to finally have the chance to see her live, I could not be more excited.

My friends and I arrived at the Surly Brewing Field at around 2:30 p.m with plenty of time to kill, considering Phoebe was set to perform at 8 p.m. We sat on the sidewalk outside the venue in the scorching sun and chatted with the surrounding people who had flown all the way from Wyoming for the concert and quickly became friends. When the gates opened at 5 p.m., we all swarmed in like bees drawn to honey. Some of us were running one way to get merchandise, the rest of us running toward the stage to get the best view possible of the show, and I was running to the nearest port-a-potty before it was too late to change my mind. Regardless, we ended up around the fifth row and excitedly awaited the opening act, MUNA, to perform in a few hours.

The show did not disappoint whatsoever. MUNA was beyond impressive and engaging. As always, Phoebe astounded me with her passionate vocals and lyricism that took on a whole new form live. I will say, I was disappointed that I did not get to hear her songs “Funeral” or “Me & My Dog” live, but I will forgive her because her performance of “I Know The End” was life changing. I am pretty sure that performance physically picked me up and set me down into a new life in a matter of six minutes. Needless to say, it was a beautiful and breathtaking performance all around, and a day that I will cherish forever.

Nevertheless, it posed the question in my mind: what will public events look like in the future, and how will the “re-introduction” of these events play out with the new variants of COVID-19 running rampant? I see pictures of people attending college football games without a mask in sight and those same people going to bars and clubs every weekend. I can only imagine how these activities will influence the COVID-19 rates, especially as the new school year begins with in-person classes. What can we expect from here? I feel that at the current rate, I am expecting the worst, but maybe I will be in for a pleasant surprise.