Over the weekend, Wollongong-based garage rockers Hockey Dad were scheduled to, after a slew of setbacks and postponements, perform three gigs at Brisbane’s Fortitude Music Hall. After finishing their first set and preparing to head back onstage for an encore, they were informed by their manager that they needed to stop the show, leave the venue and go into self-isolation, following advice from Queensland Health amid NSW’s recent outbreak of community-transmitted COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown restrictions.
The band had travelled from Wollongong to Brisbane on Wednesday, 23rd June, prior to the Greater Sydney region being classified a hotspot the following day, taking a COVID test on arrival and self-isolating until they received a negative result. On Saturday (26th June), an updated restriction backdated the Greater Sydney region’s hotspot status to Monday, 21st June.
The encore was canned, with the following planned shows forced to be postponed as well. The duo are now in a 14-day hotel quarantine period. The duo put out a brief statement on social media calling the abrupt cancellation “the hardest thing [they’ve] ever experienced” and saying they were “absolutely gutted and lost for words.” It was a grim reminder of the huge risk and volatility of being a touring band in Australia right now, where sudden outbreaks and resultant restrictions can destroy months’ worth of planning in an instant.
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In a new statement today (28th June), drummer Billy Fleming described the toll of being forced to pull the pin on the shows after a year’s worth of postponement.
“The hardest part for me was just being on such a high from the show and dropping to such a low in an instant. We felt amazing as we walked off stage. We really felt like we had pulled off something special,” Fleming explained.
“As the crowd started yelling for us to jump back on for an encore, we got the tap on the shoulder and were escorted away from the stage to receive the bad news. Everything was going so well up until that point. We did everything by the book. And it all just fell apart so quickly. It was really hard for us to comprehend. And it still is.”
Bandmate, guitarist and vocalist Zach Stephenson, called the week leading up to the shows likely the most stressful time in his history touring as part of the band. “Ever changing goal posts continually keep pressure on artists, venues, crew, promoters, punters to make sure they are doing everything correctly in accordance to state and federal guidelines.”
Stephenson went on to thank his crew and everyone at the Fortitude Music Hall for their support and understanding, along with Hockey Dad fans who’ve continued to support the band throughout one of the toughest times for Australia’s music industry.
“Biggest thanks go out to our fans who bought tickets and held them for over a year and still stick with us through these times. Thank you also to the whole [Australian] music community for your support. The messages we have received already from our peers offering to help out in any way they can has been overwhelming and gives me great hope for the music industry in [Australia].”
New dates for the band’s remaining Fortitude Music Hall shows are set to be announced soon. Hockey Dad are set to head back out on the road this August for a run of regional dates.