Leadership / 07.28.21
From the Drive-In to Live: INTIX Member Deirdre Naff Shares Her Garth Brooks Stadium Experience
Sold-out stadiums. It seems almost surreal to write those words together after the pandemic we’ve been through. Indeed, in the U.S., the return to live is well underway.
On July 10, Garth Brooks kicked off his tour at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. It was the first major stadium show since the pandemic began back in March 2020. And, like all of the Garth Brooks shows this summer, it was completely sold out.
Sold. Out. Stadium. Show.
I love typing those words!
Yes, we were all intrigued, hopeful and happy when Garth Brooks announced his drive-in concert series last summer. Two of our INTIX colleagues even made a date night and a girls night out of the event in their respective cities. Deirdre Naff, who now works full time for AXS in Salt Lake City, took in that drive-in show with her girlfriends. Naff and her friends had a great time hanging out but saw very few people wearing masks even though they had just been made mandatory in Utah at the time, so they decided to stay safely in their car for the entire event.
Fast-forward to July 17, 2021, at the 51,000+ capacity Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. Naff once again had a ticket to see the country superstar. And, goodness, were things different from the drive-in. Almost like there was never a pandemic, it would seem.
“There was no opening act because of the heat. They sent out an email saying that he would go on at 8:30 p.m., so I thought, well, if I get there about 8:30 and the gates have already opened, there wouldn’t be a lot of traffic. Wrong,” Naff says. “It was a nightmare because everybody waited until the very last minute still, so the traffic was horrendous and everybody was walking up at 8:30 when he was supposed to go on. Evidently, none of us learned anything while we had a year and a half to think about it.”
Naff continues, “But the concert, he just never ceases to get the crowd eating out of his hand. This was no different. There was almost nobody in the concourse or at concessions because everybody was inside waiting to hear every song he sang.”
How did it compare to the drive-in experience?
“Oh, you can’t compare it. I mean, just being out, watching the crowd, the sound, the stage. There’s no comparison,” Naff says. “There was literally nothing that would tell you it wasn’t just business back to normal.”
Sometimes, the best way to describe something is to show you — and that’s exactly what we are going to do! Thank you to Deirdre for documenting her night in photos at every step of her journey.
Deirdre’s Night in Pictures
“You don’t have to have big hair to go country, but you should at least have big sunglasses,” Naff says.
“The concerts starts in 15 minutes and, you guessed it, I’m a half-mile from the stadium in bumper-to-bumper traffic,” she says.
“It’s going to be a long walk uphill in heat,” Naff says. “I’m glad my driver/husband is willing to drop me off at the door and wait.”
“How considerate!” she says. “Someone placed a mattress on the side of the road in case Garth’s fans need a rest or …”
“Bootleg T-shirts,” says Deirdre. “Everyone is happy to get back to live!”
“If you are in witness protection, you have to watch the concert from here,” Naff says.
“Sometimes, Utah doesn’t act like it has Pride, but we do,” Naff says.
“Bleh, more traffic, bumper to bumper,” notes Deirdre as she makes her way closer to the venue. “Doors opened 2.5 hours ago. This road was supposed to be empty when I arrived.”
“Shades of U2 without a claw. The stage was ‘FIRE,’” shares Deirdre. “Load-in started on Monday [for a Saturday show].”
“Garth would embrace the world if he could,” says Deirdre.
“View from the North of Stadium. Ain’t gonna lie, I teared up,” says Deirdre.
“The crowd sang every song! There was no indication at all, not even masks, that we had been through a pandemic,” Deirdre says.
And, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. This photo shared by Deirdre indeed illustrates that when the show — and life — must go on, they do indeed.
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Tags: Music , Leadership , COVID-19 , Coronavirus