Corona’s Impact on The 105
Despite hearing the phrase ad nauseam, this is truly an unprecedented time. Businesses of all kinds, understandably, were left unprepared for this global pandemic and have been massively affected. Music venues, one could argue, have been uniquely impacted, which is something The 105, a smaller venue in downtown Naperville, knows as well as anyone.
Though The 105 has only been around since April of last year, it has already garnered a reputation for gearing towards more punk, hard rock and indie-rock local and touring bands. Their shows are put on by Waiting Room Productions and Sound Summit, which is a studio rehearsal space above the venue that owns The 105. What’s unique about this venue is that, while other smaller suburban venues may contain a bar or serve food, The 105 is a music room only.
While this may be a positive for musical purists, this hasn’t been helpful in the midst of the pandemic. The 105 doesn’t have the luxury of still being able to act as a restaurant, delivering food and drinks or possibly even opening now, as many restaurants are doing in an outdoor setting. “When you’re in there, you’re simply there to see a show,” co-owner Charlier Dresser puts it. “So, everything went blank all at once and it’s been rough.”
This reflects the sentiment that so many business owners feel during this time, but may be felt even more heavily by owners of small music venues, given the nature of their business. “It’s hurt in a lot of ways,” Dresser explained. “Because we’re a small room, it’s hard to feel like you can socially distance and stuff like that when it’s packed in.” The larger music venues are affected too, certainly, they just have more leeway during this time than smaller venues do.
However, being a smaller venue isn’t without its benefits. There may be silver linings for them, explains Dresser. “I think there may be a period when a room like ours, size wise, might be the only option for some really cool bands…There’s more eyes on the bigger venues and places with larger gatherings, so maybe for that reason, it might be a little easier for us to get back up and running.”
There is also more eyes on a venue residing in a city, opposed to a suburb like Naperville, an hour out from Chicago. On the other hand, smaller venues may not have the clout to fight bigger venues, as well as not containing the same ability to social distance when putting on shows, all issues that smaller venues have to work through.
So, businesses of all kinds are having to come up with creative ways to get by during this time, or if they can, use their resources to their advantage. The 105 is utilizing the latter, as they have essentially been solely using their venue as a rehearsal space for bands since shutting down shows, a practice they’ve always employed.
Pre-Covid, they consistently used The 105 as a “showcase room” for the Sound Summit studio, but never had to rely on it entirely for income as they are now. “We’re just going with kind of a blanket $9 an hour per person rehearsal rate. As you can imagine, people aren’t quite out of their hobbit holes yet, so that’s still a thing to try to keep (the business) going until shows come back around,” Dresser said.
It’s also easy to see how music venues could potentially change following this pandemic. Large gatherings will most likely be looked at with increased agitation due to health risks, so music venues will have to be responsible for making attendees more at ease and less nervous. Dresser explained their potential plans of, “having hand sanitizer readily available at the door as soon as you walk in or out,” or perhaps, “easing up on our no reentry policies so people can go out and get fresh air anytime they want.” Dresser even jokingly tossed around the idea with his co-workers of giving every showgoer a noodle to wear to ensure safe social distancing or making everyone mosh in a plastic bubble.
He was, of course, kidding, but stressed the fact that venue owners can’t start thinking too extreme, as far as changes to shows go. “If you start thinking too crazy then you realize, well, I don’t know if shows will even be happening if that has to happen.” The changes that Dresser will enforce upon reopening is, “an ongoing discussion,” but he stated that, at least, “those small changes will have to be made.”
What’s something that all venues can agree on is that simply the lack of shows, and the comradery and shared experiences that come with them, have been tough to live without. “The worst thing has just been the ceasing of any sort of live experience, whether it’s for the attendees or for the bands. That strong feeling of a scene, that really vanished,” Dresser expressed.
So, to help with this, Dresser offered advice for how to support music during this time: “(The music scene) is all one big team, so anything anybody can do for any venue, or more particularly, any bands, to keep them rolling and to keep the excitement going is important so that, when it is time, there’s something meaningful for these venues to host.”
“So, support local music in the meantime, give everyone streams, buy merch and definitely hop on these fundraisers as much as you can. These things are going to prove to help so much once we’re out of this.”
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