Dutch Cities Flooded With Protests Calling for Return of Music Festivals

Un Mute us protests in AmsterdamUn Mute us protests in Amsterdam

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Music brings people together in more than one way. There’s no doubt it’s been a tough year and a half for frequent live music attendees, and when we thought things were heading in the right direction, the delta and lambda variants began to surge.

The Netherlands was among the first to okay live concerts in May. Then in July, there was news about another rise in COVID-19 infections. The Dutch government pivoted and banned large-scale events until at least September 19. Currently, only one-day events with a maximum of 750 guests with proof of vaccination or negative test results are allowed.

Last Saturday, August 21, AP News reported that Dutch cities were filled with “Unmute Us” marchers, calling for the return of music festivals. With thousands of protestors in the streets, Amsterdam municipality urged no more people to attend the march due to crowding.

Jasper Goossen of Apenkooi Events told AP News, “There are so many passionate people working in this industry and they are all having a tough time. We want to move forward, not stand still.”

Festival organizers even cited American music festival Lollapalooza as proof that music festivals aren’t super-spreader events.

We reached out to Amsterdam residents for their thoughts on the ban and its effect on the music scene. 

Niels Kersic says, “It's been incredibly heartbreaking. The live music sector has always been at the bottom of the priority list. ​​It's the last to reopen and the first to be shut down again when cases go up.” Kersic expresses his frustration, revealing that test events were held before the country opened up back in May, and recommendations were given for live music’s return, including properly ventilating the venues. However, once everything reopened, none of the recommendations from those test events were taken into consideration, and everything quickly closed once again.

Netherlands-based Grammy award-nominated producer Jaimy “Jailo” adds another perspective. He tells Festival Insider, “It has been a roller coaster for the music industry and it still is. I feel like there was a worldwide thing first with live streaming and what not, but I think this year over here is even worse. None of that happening, artists postponing music because it's made for clubs and live performances, which is a big difference when people make music in English or straight electronic music with a huge (worldwide) fanbase… It sucks that it’s like that, but I'm just happy that the music industry is handling it the way it is. I wish I could be playing shows and meeting other artists, but I feel like the health of the people goes above everything.”