Lava Cantina, The Colony; Keeping Things Going

2020 sure hasn’t gone the way anyone anticipated, has it? How could it when the entire world shifted into a mode never seen before? The global concern for Covid-19 brought out measures to match the concern around the world. Pushed into a a time many people have chosen to handle by withdrawing to ride out the storm, other businesses and people chose to face it differently and adapt. How would we all handle the challenges presented to us as we go through a time none of us have been through before?

Then on April 3rd, the world changed  yet again as the world slammed on the brakes and simply shut down. Not completely, no. Some people and sectors of our economy were deemed “essential”, giving them a hall pass if you will to carry on. We’ve seen the strangest of hoarding coupled by the most incredible of generosity and concern for others as our natural habits get amplified when under stress. Life however did most certainly change.

Stop for a quick bite at your favorite food place? Nope. Go see your favorite band play over the long weekend? Nope. Hell, go out and go for a walk without fear or concern.

Nope.

Never in any of our lifetimes have we as a world gone through anything like this. May you live in interesting times.

While this has created yet another divide between mindsets, it’s also created an opportunity to take on these challenges and adapt by the hour to meet whatever consumer needs are thrown at any given business. While many businesses simply acted like Chef Ramsay simply issued his infamous SHUT IT DOWN order, others adapted.  From day 1 one of the Dallas eateries and music venues adapted. Lava Cantina  immediately shifted gears and went to curbside pickup and delivery for their food. They created ready to eat meals complete with your favorite drinks you can pick up and head back to your own sanctuary to enjoy.

It was pretty much phase 1 of the new normal that was being defined by the hour it seemed.

In phase 2 and as soon as safe to do so, Lava Cantina revamped their already impressive stage setup to bring bands in and let them play for remote audiences. Let the streaming begin as they created, on the fly, a new way to survive in these “interesting times”. Can’t go out to Lava Cantina and see a great show? Lava will come to you. However, it’s still on the computer and not the same. Appreciated, sure. But people are meant to get out and be social and that critical piece was still missing.

April 30th, 2020; Phase 3. Lava Cantina in the space of a month did what many businesses don’t do in 20 years; changed everything. Again. Rules came down that places can open up in a limited capacity and on day 1 they were there to bring people back. Given everyone is handling this crisis in their own chosen manner, Lava didn’t leave anyone out.

Want to stay home? Simply continue to watch their live Facebook feed. Want to get out but still not quite ready for “crowds”; they setup a Parking Lot drive in concert venue to watch on LCD what is live just a short distance away. For those ready to go; tables took over the “standing room only” section in front of their stage complete with required distances and guard rail.

For the 3 time in less than 30 days, Lava Cantina reinvented their business model to adapt to the challenges Covid 19 has set on us all.

That Thursday (April 30th) local cover band Red Leather kicked things off in this new world. The next evening (2) more bands began the transition from remote streaming to live audiences. However, it was far from normal under any sense of the word. Jason Elmore and the HooDoo Witch opened Friday up and Even it Up, local Dallas Heart Tribute band, came on at 9:30 to carry on to closing time.

Have the bands been as quick to adapt? Certainly seems so; but it’s certainly not business as usual by any means.

photo by Mark Kukla – Lava Cantina

“It’s bizarre having an audience setup like that” notes Kristy Johnson, the “Ann Wilson” for Even it Up. While Even it Up is no stranger to Lava Cantina, Johnson certainly has never performed in front of such an arrangement. “Only a few tables out front setup with barricades and restricted areas” as she described what everyone else saw as they came into the venue after a month hiatus from people.

Anxious to get back into the scene and out of the house, I was one of the fortunate few who was able to get a barricaded table. Things seemed far more like a VIP setup in a strange sense of public privacy. Those out on this first weekend of “the reopening” seemed to echo the same emotional ties to what was missed.

Johnson was excited about the opportunity to do the live stream. “I love that live streaming makes it easy for people who still want to be cautious to enjoy (the show) from home”. When asked about the opportunity to play so early into things reopening, Johson followed up with her gratitude to Lava Cantina as well.

“Lava Cantina and Ian Vaughn are doing more for live music than anyone out there” she stated; quick to also follow up that she is “very grateful to them” for all their efforts through the shutdown.

In keeping with the theme of a very different audience, it was a very different atmosphere as camera lenses replaced people.

Glenn and Kristy Johnson – Even It Up

“It can be nerve wracking to have knowledge of that many cameras/viewers out there but strange because you can’t see them.” Johnson started before elaborating. “It is weird to have to be cued in for start/stopping points because of the announcements between the sets.”

Taking a breath, she continued. “It’s also nice to HAVE those breaks.  It’s very unusual for performances, but a welcome change to those on stage tho can take a drink of water and breathe for a minute between mini-sets.”

While it was certainly different for the bands performing, the audience has a very different experience as well. Sectioned off, escorted to the restroom if needed and other safety measures are required and must be agreed to before allowed into such a new environment. You can find these requirements for any upcoming show.

Interested in a coming live performance? Rebel Yell, local Billy Idol tribute band will be playing May 20th. You can get the tickets and see the rules on the Lava Cantina events page.

Chee Paduano, guitarist for Rebel Yell (and many other bands in Dallas) was one of the first out last night, venturing to see Even it Up.

“Last night was a blast!” Paduano exclaimed. “It was great to be able to support LIVE music and one of my favorite venues in person”. When asked about returning to normal, Paduano followed up with “there will never be a “back to normal”, but that was a great start in figuring out what the “new normal” will become.”

When asked about getting ready to perform this type of a hybrid audience, Paduano took it in total stride. “To me, it’s all about evolving” he explained. “I’m a musician and I always will be and I’ll express my music any way I can”.

The staff has also taken both bands and customers concerns seriously. From the event requirements to the constant surface cleaning and disinfecting, their focus is on doing whatever it takes to safely keep us all rocking out. Johson was quick to give credit to the work of the venue and staff.

“Oh! And… Lava was great” she began. They took temperatures, asked about symptoms/exposure, cleaned everywhere and everything, gave us hand sanitizer – they were absolutely on point about keeping it safe. I think it’s important to give them kudos for that.”

Johnson got a glimpse of what it takes to put all this together by the time the bands own new experiences were over.

“I had the rare opportunity to talk with Ian and Jersey after everyone went home for the evening” she began to explain after seeing the work behind the scenes first hand. “from watching at home I had no idea how much they go through to put these shows on”.

To be sure it is all about evolving and changing to fit what life brings at us and doing so as safely as possible While some businesses remain closed, unsure of how to open up in this brave new world, Lava Cantina has taken the bull by the horns. From day 1 they have reinvented themselves on the fly to meet whatever demands faced by restaurants and entertainment venues.

Check out their events page on Facebook and help support those who are doing all they can to support us as well. Lava Cantina, job well done!

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