TobyMac and Newsboys Give Drive-In Concerts a Boost After They Book By-the-Carload Summer Tours

The move toward holding drive-in concerts this summer — as explored in a Variety feature earlier this week — is picking up steam, with two Christian music artists of note, TobyMac and Newsboys United, announcing that they have each booked tours that will take place exclusively in 16 existing drive-in theaters in the South in late June and early July.

Tickets for the social-distancing shows are being sold by the carload, with up to six patrons allowed per car. General admission for the shows is $100, or $175 for preferred parking spots close to the stage and screen. At some drive-ins that have two screens, a cheaper $75 option is available to watch the show on the second screen, without a view of the live stage.

The twin tours were the brainchild of the national Christian music tour producer Awakening Events, which managed to secure what may come to be a coveted URL, driveintheatertour.com, for their events.

“A few Saturday nights every summer my family and I head to a local drive-in movie theater,” said TobyMac in a statement. “We always love it. When we started discussing live shows in this quarantine season and the idea of playing drive-ins came up, I said, ‘Let’s go.’ It feels like summer, safe for everybody, and we all get to enjoy live music again.  We ’bout to make some memories.”

These two artists are not the first to book exclusively drive-in theaters for a tour this year. That honor belongs to EDM artist Marc Rebillet, who has put 12 shows on sale at nine ozoners in June, with a further geographic reach. None of the nine drive-ins on Rebillet’s tour duplicate any of the 16 being used by TobyMac or Newsboys United.

“COVID-19 has changed all of our lives, but through it, we have learned that love is patient and love is kind,” said Newsboys United lead singer Michael Tait. (Tait used to be TobyMac’s bandmate in the seminal Christian hip-hop-pop group DC Talk before members went their separate ways.) “Now we have the opportunity to come together safely and express our love for our Creator who has been with us through these trying times.”

Although a number of other artists and festivals have looked at using drive-in theaters this summer, some drive-in owners have said they’re not interested in hosting concerts, saying they’re already doing too much business selling out movies — at least while indoor theaters remain closed — to give up screens and dive into the concert promotion business. Some of them may rethink that, though, if shows like these sell out, which seems a possibility, since they count as an underplay for a performer like TobyMac, who was filling arenas earlier in the year.

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SOURCE: Variety, Chris Willman