If you want to catch a Jason Isbell show in the near future, you’ll have to provide proof of full COVID vaccination or a recent negative rest to do so. The singer announced that he would be requiring all who attend his shows to show proof of one or the other at all upcoming performances – whether they are indoors or outdoors. They are one of the first performers to add such a requirement to their upcoming performances, made much easier by Live Nation’s earlier decision to support artists who choose to do so.
We’re now requiring proof of vaccination or a current negative test to attend all our shows, indoors or out. If the venue won’t allow that, we won’t play. https://t.co/KSYmsT5qAl
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) August 9, 2021
In an interview with MSNBC Monday, Jason Isbell indicated that the response from most venue and business side contacts “has been positive because they understand we could go back to not working at all,” should the current COVID surge continue to rage. The issue is whether or not those who oppose such restrictions on political lines – a faction which includes many republican governors – will push back against their attempts at instituting the requirement.
“I’m all for freedom, but I think if you’re dead, you don’t have any freedoms at all,” Isbell said. “So it’s probably important to stay alive before you start questioning your liberty.”
Reaction to the policy has been mixed, which is likely what the band expected. Many have lauded the group for making a decision that puts health and safety at the forefront, while others criticized the move as an overreach and violation of their freedoms. Songwriter Marc Broussard took up the latter position in his response to Isbell’s requirement: “‘The unclean may not attend. The poor may not attend. The ignorant may not attend.’ Who knew Jason was so bourgois? Thought he was a blue collar type of guy. Never met him so I can’t say for sure but yeah, this is some elitist ish here, fella.”
The two feuded over social media briefly, after which Broussard outlined his opinion being based on a concern for the ability of some music fans to risk potential side effects that could come with a vaccine.
“I know I have some working class fans who can’t afford the risks associated with either the vaccines or even getting a test. An adverse side effect or a positive result could mean loss of wages which could be devastating for someone who’s finances are already tight,” he wrote. “If they wanna save a little coin to come to my concert for some reprieve and a good time, who am I to tell them they gotta jump through some hoops first? I don’t think that much of myself, tbh, so I wouldn’t assume people would bend to my will.”
Jason Isbell and his band, the 400 Unit, have a full calendar of shows planned for late summer and into fall, both solo performances and at festivals. It is unclear how the band will proceed if a festival – for example, Bonnaroo – doesn’t require masks or proof of vaccination.