“Anticovid restrictions force us to close concert halls”

Juan Uriarte, promoter of Hell Dorado for more than two decades. / white castle

The coordinators of Hell Dorado and Urban and the singer Iñaki Urbizu, Pela, analyze the avalanche of cancellations in January

Natxo Artundo

Rock and hospitality have always had a close relationship, and not just because concert venues have their part of the bar. Also in the destructive, as when the bassist of Johnny Cash ‘communicated’ the rooms of the musicians with a large hole in the wall. Or when The Who – especially drummer Keith Moon – left little more than the finished work in the rooms. This last scenario is a metaphor applied to the concert scene in Vitoria in this start of 2022.

“The anticovid restrictions force us to the concert halls to be closed”, assures the coordinator of the Hell Dorado hall, Juan Uriarte. «People are a bit deceived with that of the capacity: if 60% of the public is added the prohibition of consumption standing up and at the bar, that there cannot be groups of more than 10 people and that they must be seated, the capacity available down to 15%. And so it is impossible to work, “he reasons.

With 14 workers, the local Oreitias can only accommodate up to 381 attendees, but with the 58 parishioners who would attend it, it would be impossible to cover the opening costs. “We are forced to close or cancel events and performances, to postpone them until after January 28,” laments the former president and current treasurer of the association of concert halls of Euskadi Kultura Live, which brings together 17 platforms.

“In Vitoria there is already an active scene, the only thing politicians do not have to do is put sticks in the wheels, but they do it”

Juan uriarte

Hell Dorado Coordinator

Outside of this group, those responsible for Jimmy Jazz have recently expressed their distaste for “paying for the mismanagement of others.” From the Coronation street room they have explained that “we have complied with all kinds of sanitary and non-sanitary measures, we have changed not We do not even know how many times the protocols, we have delayed, rescheduled, canceled and rescheduled dozens of events, we have filled the room with seats, lowered the capacity, worked twice as much to not cover expenses, held concerts without a bar, with everything that entails, and a thousand other things … We have reinvented ourselves and we have done everything that has been asked of us and more to try to keep culture and live events alive. But once again they force us to close and without any compensation “, those who feel” up to the bow “have stressed.

For his part, the Urban Rock Concept programmer, Txema González points out that «there is fatigue, boredom, because when it seems that we are going to improve, we back down. It is almost better that they close us down and give us help, because we do the work of programming , of promotion and others and then have to cancel ».

He also feels that the sector is evicted in the face of anticovid measures. “It’s as if they told us ‘you run out of cover and survive as best you can.’ and, from time to time, with even less.

This month, “we have two concerts out of nine left and we’ll see if they will finally be done.” In his bid to maintain the activity, the option that González raises is “not to open the bar and to function with 60% of the public, standing up. Although it is a time of many contagions … we are going little by little “, reflects the person in charge of a place that, unlike Hell Dorado, can at least open during the week in the morning, as a cafeteria.

No offsets

“We are subjected to a punishment that is not even normal,” laments Uriarte. He calculates that the Oreitiasolo room has stopped earning about 40,000 euros with the various changes in capacity and complementary measures in the pandemic, such as seats or consumption of drinks.

And he compares the absence of compensatory measures on the part of the institutions with the time of the closure due to confinement. “Then there were aid or exemptions from social security or self-employed contributions, ERTEs or support to face credits or rents,” he recalls.

“It is almost better to close with aid, because we do the work of programming, promotion and others and then have to cancel”

txema González

Programador de Urban Rock Concept

Meanwhile “there are politicians and institutions that boast of programming from a public sector with their backs covered, while the private sector cannot even work,” stresses the Hell Dorado coordinator. He adds that Basque cinemas “are being ignored and 100% ignored and constantly ».

“We were already badly injured and this has been a tremendous hit now,” describes the promoter of the premises on Calle Venta la Estrella. “Postponing everything has been a hard and severe damage because they do not give us an income option and we do not know when we will be able to open again,” he analyzes.

The musician Iñaki Urbizu, Pela, in his workplace. /


And he emphasizes that “there is no ‘concert hall’ license, so they include us in ‘nightlife’, as when a few months ago there were 6 million euros to subsidize culture and they left us out for this very reason”. The programmer from Vitoria emphasizes that “ignorance on the part of politicians and institutions hurts: the measures are disastrous and show an absolute ignorance of the Basque cultural framework, which allows for countless acts, outside the planning of official culture,” Uriarte distinguishes .

But, as Juan Uriarte indicates, the problem is not only one of programmers, but this stoppage affects transporters, catering managers, sound and light technicians, recruitment and tour agencies and, of course, “hundreds and hundreds of musicians. ”One of the latter is Iñaki Urbizu, Pela, from Vitoria, a vocalist in bands like Víctimas Club or La Excavadora, who have seen the cancellation of the performances they had planned for these first days of the year at Hell Dorado and JimmyJazz, respectively.

“When there are compensation measures, they are for the hoteliers. They do not contemplate the musicians, we are in limbo »

iñaki urbizu, skin

Voz de Víctimas Club, La Excavadora and Marky Ramone

The also frontman of Marky Ramone’s band clarifies that “in January I dropped 8 or 9 bowling pins” and “the month has gone to hell.” Pela laments that the artists “nobody looks at us: when there are compensation measures, they are for the hoteliers. We are in limbo.

«Touching on Dato Street»

To make matters worse, it is not even possible for rockers to have access to small-format performances “in bars or in gaztetxes, which can help our overall income.” We can only get to play in the street Dato, “he adds before finishing with irony that with the law in hand you can also find the laps for performing on public roads.

But the singer from Alava has finally scheduled a tour with the former Ramones drummer in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Colombia for March. «We already have the tickets. Let’s see what happens », he advances with expectation before those 6 concerts between the days 11 and 22 of that third month of 2022. But Pela adds that, meanwhile,« here instead of reinforcing health to avoid the problem that would be the collapse , there are restrictions ”.

«It seems that here they don’t want a living city, in which there is already a network of venues with musical or stage activities. Or initiatives such as the Extitxu bar with poetry. Instead of creating licenses for pubs and bars to perform concerts under conditions, penalties are raised if there is a nuisance to neighbors. What they do not do, they are going to charge. And all this would even help politicians to get their chest out: the only thing they don’t have to do is put sticks in the wheels, but they do it, ”says Uriarte, who has been in charge of Hell Dorado for more than two decades.

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“Anticovid restrictions force us to close concert halls”