It’s easy to forget that, even though locals can now get into restaurants, bars, the gym and the movies—all with drastically reduced capacities, of course—Capital Region music venues have remained closed since mid-March, with no obvious light at the end of the tunnel.
That has a lot to do with the fact that live, ticketed, pre-promoted events have been banned by the state since August—likely because any live, indoor concert venue, without the proper COVID testing infrastructure in place, could turn into a superspreader event lickety-split. At least one local venue, Saratoga Springs’ Caffè Lena, has been able to find a loophole to this quandary, recasting itself as an “essential” broadcast hub, with, up until recently, no audiences allowed but its shows streaming live and free on its YouTube channel. (That appears to be changing in the next few weeks, though.)
To that point, this past weekend, the area lost one of its most promising live music venues. The year-and-a-half old Skyloft, which opened in Albany’s Crossgates Mall in April 2019 and hosted a number of national indie acts, including Kurt Vile, The Felice Brothers and Real Estate, announced on its Facebook page on October 24 that it would be closing permanently. “These times of uncertainty have taken their toll on all of us, and though we have been fighting the good fight, we, like countless other live entertainment venues, have unfortunately succumbed to the concerns and restrictions brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the post read.
Last month, one of the other major music venue in the area, Upstate Concert Hall, announced that it would be moving from its location in Clifton Park to Downtown Albany. It remains to be seen, though, whether the move will pay off in any demonstrable way. Until the state allows music venues to promote upcoming shows and sell tickets to them, they will remain closed.