Night Ranger, the Struts and Steel Panther are bringing live rock 'n' roll concerts to drive-in theaters over the next couple of months.

With traditional indoor and outdoor concert venues all but completely shut down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, musicians and stand-up comedians have started performing socially distanced shows at drive-in movie theaters. Audience members remain inside or near their cars, which are spaced apart from other attendees.

The Struts and Night Ranger will be among the first major rock acts to follow suit, with respective headlining shows on Aug. 21 and 22 at the Starlight Drive-In in Butler, Penn. The Struts will also perform a concert in the parking lot of Philadelphia's Citzens Bank Park on Aug. 22. Steel Panther will perform at the Starlight on Sept. 11, before moving to the Circle Drive-In in Scranton, Penn., the next night.

"This is been the craziest year anyway, so, if you think about it, why not play a drive-in theater?" Night Ranger's Jack Blades tells UCR. "This year has been a year of firsts for the whole world, and I have a feeling there’s gonna be a lot more firsts to come. I don’t care where we are playing; I’m just so stoked to be playing again. This is crazy not being able to gather and play music for fans, go to concerts, having everybody shout and sing songs together. It’s just so completely unnatural."

The show will be a trip down memory lane for Blades, who says he went to drive-ins every weekend while growing up in Southern California. "I friggin' loved it," he recalls. "There was nothing like a hot summer night all sweaty hanging out with your girlfriend all sweaty in the car or on the hood. And once in a while we even actually watched the movie."

Struts frontman Luke Spiller grew up in England, so he's totally unfamiliar with the experience of watching movies outdoors. But he's up for the challenge. "I've never been to a drive-in movie," he tells UCR. "In fact, it's something that I'm really trying to imagine, and, to be honest, in some ways I wish for the first time I could probably be more of a spectator. But I think it's going to be great. I was imagining maybe more of a traditional audience setup for our first concert after COVID hit, but I guess we'll have to settle for cars."

"I don’t think this is something you put a lot of thought into," Blades says of his band's plans for the evening. "You just go out there [and] put on a killer rock show like we always do. The fact that it’s live music after all these months is going to jack us up for sure, and I know it will do the same for the audience."

Both artists say they've made good use of their unexpected free time. "I moved to L.A. in January, and the band quickly followed, so everything kind of happened in this bizarre way," explains Spiller. "If there's any silver lining in this situation, it's that I was able to stay productive in a great place, rather than having the four of us spread across the United Kingdom, which would have been the alternative. All of a sudden, we found ourselves with a very, very empty diary, which was sad, but I guess also refreshing. I tried to stick it on its head and make the most of it. So, I've stayed creative, carried on writing and tried to find means and ways to keep myself productive."

Blades notes that Night Ranger are working on a new album, their first since 2017's Don't Let Up. He's also found time for other activities over the past few months. "I don’t think I’ve had a summer off since maybe 1986, so in that respect it’s been like a bit of a vacation," he says. "Nothing is right, everything seems wrong, so I try to keep myself busy by writing songs, taking hikes, going out on the ocean in a kayak - anything to get my mind off the fact that things are really messed up right now."

Despite those concerns, he remains confident things will eventually work out. "We as a country are gonna get through this," he says. "We’re all in this together, and rock 'n' roll will survive. I’m gonna do my part to make damn sure it does. You can still rock in America, motherfucker!"

 

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