Isolation Drills: Grocer

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

Grocer: In mid-March, we were in the middle of our Ortlieb’s residency, gearing up to release our album and planning a U.S. and Japan tour. We were all very excited about the months ahead.

It was probably at our second night of the residency with touring bands Washer and Bethlehem Steel that we realized things were about to get bad. They had both just canceled their tours after hearing news of SXSW being canceled. There was a somber energy in the room that this was going to be all of our last shows for a long time.

Within a few days, the rest of the residency was canceled, as was our tour and record-release show. How naive to think we would just “postpone it until September.” Now here we are, and the venue we were planning our release show at doesn’t exist anymore.

Our experience during quarantine has probably been pretty run-of-the-mill. Three of us lost our jobs immediately, and one of us has been working throughout. For the first month or so, we did what everyone did, just, like, panic and bake. We kept pretty busy—it felt like trying to burn off some excess momentum or something. We even built a ladder to our roof and set up a little hangout spot so we could spend socially distant time with each other. 

After some time passed, playing music really felt like medicine. We ended up learning a handful of covers, tried out livestreaming and decided we didn’t like it. Wrote and recorded a little EP that we’re looking forward to sharing soon!

In July we got an offer to play an outdoor socially distant festival, which felt like a risky idea, but after looking into it a bit more, we decided to do it. It was great! It helped us realize that live music could still happen in some capacity in a safe way.

We did a few socially distant shows ourselves in the empty lot next to our house, and it turned out to be really fun! We live for shows and playing out and touring. Although the pandemic has ended all of that, we’ve realized we need to be resourceful and creative to find new ways of doing the things we love to do.

We’re hoping we can keep doing safe outdoor shows when the weather gets warm again until regular shows can start back up! In the meantime, we’re spending a month this winter down in rural Georgia to isolate play music and try no to go crazy!