The Independent in SF welcomes guests back with live music to celebrate reopening

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Independent, San Francisco's world-renowned music venue, occupies a space that has hosted live music performances for 60 years.

After putting on 275 shows annually, the venue saw its doors shuttered and the stage go dark for the first time in 16 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We all felt really just like scattered to the wind, which was a very surreal feeling and it happened with the snap of a finger. It went on for so long," says The Independent General Manager Jon Gunton.

According to Gunton, the absence of live performances created a void in the music community.

"You see the effect that live music has on people and how it's this really powerful force that is like healing and sanctimonious," Gunton explains. "You really see it's a powerful emotional experience for the crowd."

"Music is our roots. It's our pulse. It's our heartbeat," said the lead singer of the band Con Brio Ezekiel "Ziek" McCarter.

With the number of new COVID-19 cases declining and CDC protocols changing, it was time to reopen.

"So when the word came down that we were going to have a show, it was a whole spectrum of emotions. I was so happy and it really felt like it signified the ship is getting back to land," said Gunton. "I just got the best responses from people who were just like saying, 'I can not wait to come home.'"

"I've been to a ton of music concerts. This is where it's at. It is intimate. It is sound-worthy. And you get the full musical experience and that's why artists come here," Lori, a concert attendee says enthusiastically.

Con Brio, an international touring act and Bay Area natives, were booked for the sold-out homecoming.

"To play music together and be under one roof and feel all that energy. It's such a like sweet reunion," said McCarter.

"This has just been a huge aspect of your life that has been taken away from you, and then, to just get it back," said Saxophonist Marcus Stephens.

"It's all about having fun, celebrating that we can all be doing this again," said drummer Andrew Laubacher.

"We want everybody to be part of this communal experience here and we haven't gotten to do that for a long time so it's going to feel really, really good to be doing that again," said Gunton.