The Return of Live Music Is on the Horizon. Is It Too Soon?

While most of the business seems to be betting that concerts will return in late summer and early fall, longtime talent buyer Matt King is more hesitant.

WW presents “Distant Voices,” interviews for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they’re doing during quarantine.

After more than a year, the concert industry is slowly, gradually coming back to life. Matt King thinks it’s a little premature.

Don’t get him wrong: The longtime talent buyer for major Portland music venues such as Mississippi Studios and Revolution Hall, who now runs his own independent concert promotion company, Folk Magik, believes the restart is nigh. He’s started booking shows himself: He’s got Ty Segall-led garage-rockers Fuzz coming to Wonder Ballroom in December, along with other acts he’s not yet able to announce.

But while most of the business seems to be betting that live music, with actual audiences sweating shoulder to shoulder in actual clubs and theaters again, will return in late summer and early fall, King is more hesitant.

“I’m more optimistic about winter,” he says. “It’s a moving target as to when things are going to open and when people are going to feel good about being in big crowds again.”

In this interview, King talks about how the concert industry has changed after a year of silence, how Portland music venues managed to weather the pandemic, and the responsibility concert promoters have to local musicians post-COVID.

See more Distant Voices interviews here.