While its corporate partner Live Nation has announced vaccine requirements for all its venues nationwide, the Armory in Minneapolis heads into a busy September concert season without a standard COVID policy — leaving fans to sort through the rules show by show.
The historic, 8,000-person downtown events hall – reborn from its military origins in 2018 after a $6 million-plus overhaul – is letting the artists and/or promoters with each concert choose whether to set extra COVID safety protocols. Attendees are being told to check armorymn.com to find out whether each show has rules in place.
Of the five concerts the Armory is hosting over the next week, two are requiring proof of vaccine or negative test results (Kesha and St. Vincent) and three are not (Machine Gun Kelly, Zeds Dead and Quinn XCII). None have mask policies in place, though Kesha is encouraging her fans to wear them and even handing out masks at the door.
Thursday's sold-out concert with bro rocker Machine Gun Kelly will be the Twin Cities' biggest indoor concert so far in the COVID era, a general-admission show where thousands of young fans will undoubtedly be crammed together on the floor in front of the stage without any vaccine or mask requirements.
Going through the long list of other concerts at the venue this fall, vaccine requirements are more often in place with shows that appeal to middle-aged or older fans (Judas Priest, Flogging Molly, Jason Isbell) than the ones popular among teens and twentysomethings (Needtobreathe, A Day to Remember, Playboi Carti).
Asked for clarification on its policies — or lack thereof — a representative for the Armory sent this message: "As these requirements continue to change, the best place for info on any events/shows that are requiring anything at the Armory is the venue website."
One fan who wanted to attend the venue's first concert in a year and a half last month with Lindsey Stirling voiced his displeasure on Facebook: "I just called The Armory and asked them what their COVID policy is, [and] they don't have one," wrote Billy Bob Rayson of Minneapolis. "Lots of other large indoor venues are going the route of requiring proof of negative test or vaccination, which would help curb the spread and keep smaller venues open."
Conversely, though, Machine Gun Kelly fans in other cities are complaining about being turned away by the vaccine requirements at those shows, including at Live Nation-owned venues where such policies are standard.
"There's a bunch of us that spent a lot of money for these tickets to see you and we cannot go because the place wants proof of vaccine," one fan complained to Machine Gun Kelly on Twitter.
The Armory is independently owned by Minneapolis developer Ned Abdul and only counts industry behemoth Live Nation as a "strategic partner," per company lingo.
Minneapolis' two Live Nation-owned concert venues, the Fillmore and the Varsity Theater, are both requiring proof of vaccine, as are all First Avenue venues, Orchestra Hall, the Guthrie and – as of last week — the Hennepin theaters (Orpheum, State, Pantages). For now, arenas such as Xcel Energy Center are following a similar non-policy policy as the Armory and letting the artists decide on the safety rules.
Here's a rundown of which of the Armory's biggest upcoming concerts are currently requiring proof of vaccine or negative test results within 72 hours (indicated with a "yes"), and which ones are not ("no"). These policies could change with each show.
- Quinn XCII (Tuesday): No
- Machine Gun Kelly (Thursday): No
- Zeds Dead (Friday): No
- Kesha (Sunday): Yes
- St. Vincent (Tuesday): Yes
- Rod Wave (Sept. 18): No
- Judas Priest (Sept. 23): Yes
- Needtobreathe (Sept. 24): No
- Megadeth and Lamb of God (Sept. 28): No
- A Day to Remember (Oct. 11): No
- Erykah Badu (Oct. 13): No
- $uicideboy$ (Oct. 17): No
- Flogging Molly and Violent Femmes (Oct. 23): Yes
- Brothers Osborne (Nov. 12): No
- Chvrches (Nov. 17): No
- Playboi Carti (Nov. 23): No
- Jason Isbell (Dec. 1): Yes