A sold-out show at SOMO Village on Friday night proved that local concert-goers are ready to return to their favorite pastime after months of resorting to streaming services and virtual events.
Two hundred tickets have been sold for the Rainbow Girls performance at Rohnert Park, kicking off Sonoma County’s biggest concert series since the pandemic began.
While checking in, viewers lined up at the Sally Tomatoes restaurant to get a buffet-style meal, which consisted of pasta, salad and bread.
Outside, tables a few meters apart from each other awaited groups of friends with blankets and hot dishes in hand.
The sun was setting behind the SOMO Event Center building and scattered heaters kept guests warm.
An excited buzz in the crowd signaled that for just about everyone, the show would be their first as Sonoma County continues to slowly reopen.
“It’s wonderful,” said Petaluma’s Marilyn Stratford. It was the first time she had gone to a concert since the pandemic hit in March 2020.
Loud conversations in some groups suggested they were seeing each other for the first time. Friends crossed paths: “Oh my God, Tracy!” Others could be heard chatting about co-workers.
All in all, things seemed about as normal as they had for months.
“I love the Rainbow Girls…I’m so hungry for a gig,” said Svea Norton of Santa Rosa. “And I’m fully vaccinated.”
To keep COVID-19 guidelines in place, spectators could only remove masks when seated at the table. Most guests followed this protocol and remembered to remove their masks when walking around the venue.
Two bars, one indoors and one outdoors, were busy late into the night as people ordered cocktails and red wine to warm up.
Pretty much every seat at the banquet tables outside was taken. Some chose to sit in a tent or by the fire further from the stage.
A silence fell on the crowd when Brian Griffith of KRCB radio took the stage to introduce the musicians.
“Live music is back!” he shouted as the crowd whistled and cheered loudly.
As a few opening chords were gently strummed by opener Daniel Steinbock, several audience members wiped away tears.
Few peeked during the opening songs, probably out of admiration that live performances were once again part of normal life.
The audience cheered loudly as the Rainbow Girls took the stage, a member of the sound band Erin Chapin said she hadn’t heard in a long time.
“I haven’t done this in a while.”
The Bodega Bay-based folk group consists of Chapin, Vanessa May and Caitlin Gowdey. The trio invited friends like Steinbock, Caitlin Jemma and Eric Long to open.
They stopped occasionally to check their mics and monitors, having not played live in many months.
The three women huddled around a single microphone, a clear lack of social distancing that would have been frowned upon months ago but was now being greeted with familiar smiles and cheers.
Between songs, they told stories of living together during the pandemic and sang new songs for the eager audience.
The Rainbow Girls concert was just the first in SOMO Village’s series of outdoor dinners and performances. The next gig will feature Kingsborough and King Dream on June 4.
Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 the week before the show. $10 off the ticket goes towards your meal at Sally Tomatoes.
To find out more about the Kingsborough and King Dream concert, visit kingsatsomo.eventbrite.com.