Show posters hang on the wall next to an empty stage at Lucky Dime in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Show posters hang on the wall next to an empty stage at Lucky Dime in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Live-music flyers are taken down again as omicron surges

With bands reluctant to play and few people buying tickets, local music venues wonder: Will we be able to stay open?

EVERETT — Marc Tachell has been behind since 2009, compiling local shows, promoting events and sometimes helping his musician friends book gigs around town.

But after 13 years, he’s pressing pause. Concert flyers on the site’s home page have been replaced with static venue listings.

“It’s stupid to lead people to COVID. I can’t do that,” Tachell told The Daily Herald. “I will not be steering people to COVID infection.”

For a while, it felt like the Everett music scene was getting back into a swing. This fall, as cases declined, a new downtown venue punctuated a trifecta of spaces hosting shows within walking distance on Hewitt Avenue.

Now, the omicron variant is fueling a huge surge in infections, filling up hospitals and overwhelming testing sites.

For local venues and artists, it spells bad news. Again.

“The holiday shows all went really well,” Lucky Dime owner Amber Vincini said this week. “People were gathering again, and it felt like we were about to go into the new year and things were looking up. And very quickly that changed.”

Before Christmas, the small venue hosted local musicians performing cheery holiday tunes. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” got the crowd singing along. But this past weekend, Lucky Dime canceled its slate of shows after a conversation with the bands.

A bar menu and poster with the Lucky Dime’s event calendar sit on a bar table at the empty establishment in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A bar menu and poster with the Lucky Dime’s event calendar sit on a bar table at the empty establishment in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“It was a pretty easy conclusion to make. To be like, ‘It sounds like we’re both really uncomfortable with this,’” Vincini said.

Lucky Dime crowds may be young, she said, “but of course all of us are more worried about spreading it to our families or friends.”

Historic Everett Theatre manager Curt Shriner is dealing with a similar dilemma.

“I’m canceling shows left and right as well,” he said.

It’s not that performers are calling off the dates. Shriner said nobody’s buying tickets. An upcoming show that normally sells 150 to 200 tickets so far is at 18. Two out of four events scheduled this month will likely be canceled, he said.

“We have no income,” Shriner said. Unlike other creative spaces, the theater doesn’t rely on donors.”We don’t have any. We do this out of pocket.”

Black Lab Gallery and Bar owner Isabella Valencia said she didn’t know many people who caught COVID in the past. That changed with the omicron surge, though.

“We have people sick all over the place,” she said. “I’ve never seen so much illness come up.”

Over the phone, she counted under her breath how many shows the venue has canceled since Christmas.

“One, two, three, four — we’ve had eight shows canceled so far,” she said.

On top of that, the venue’s pipes burst in the recent cold snap.

“I’ll be honest with you. Today I was just thinking — I don’t know — will we make it through this? Will we be able to stay open?” she said. “This new variant is scaring the heck out of people.”

A mask mandate flyer at the Lucky Dime in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A mask mandate flyer at the Lucky Dime in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

It’s scaring Tachell, too. His decision to stop listing local shows came after a recent night out with his girlfriend.

“We couldn’t get away from masses of people around us that weren’t masked,” he said. “It seems like all the rules have ’laxed for the bar scene.”

Tachell will soon turn 70. He said he knows too many unvaccinated musicians who are still playing and attending shows.

“It just freaked us out,” he said. “That’s it. I’m done.”

Some shows, of course, will go on.

Guy Johnson’s band has been playing locally since 1977. That won’t stop due to COVID, he said, pointing to upcoming gigs in Tulalip and on Whidbey Island.

His less-than-optimistic take is that the music scene has been dwindling since the digital age.

As for omicron, he said, “It’s just another nail in the coffin of rock and roll.”

Claudia Yaw: 425-339-3449; Twitter: @yawclaudia.

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