Concerts in cars aren’t the same but it’s all we’ve got right now


As I sat at Scotiabank Arena last December listening to Celine Dion telling me her heart will, in fact, go on, I wouldn’t have believed it if you told me that seven months later, I’d be sitting in my car in a parking lot watching my next concert — in this case Hamilton hard rock outfit Monster Truck — at a Toronto drive-in movie theatre.

But then the COVID-19 global pandemic came along and the world went sideways and now the new normal, apparently, is that we see live music from inside the safety of our cars.

As Monster Truck singer Jon Harvey put it so succinctly from the stage on Friday night: “I guess this is what rock n’ roll looks like right now!”

It couldn’t have been easy to play to about 100 vehicles who showed their appreciation by honking and flashing their lights (this was actually kind of fun for us, not sure about for them).

But the group, whose loud sound didn’t require tuning into one of three radio frequencies (101.1, 939.9 or 107.5), did their best.

Monster Truck was the first show announced by Cityview Drive-In, specifically constructed at the parking lot across from Rebel nightclub by owner Charles Khabouth to the tune of $200,000 according to INK Entertainment.

They played a 90-minute set that began at 8:15 p.m., once the blinding sun had gone behind the impressive cityscape across the water, and wrapped up at decent hour of 9:45 p.m. to prevent angry neighbours due to noise.

Hamilton rockers Monster Truck performed to a crowd confined to their vehicles due to COVID-19 on Friday night at the Cityview Drive-In. JANE STEVENSON/TORONTO SUN

How you felt about the experience probably depended on where you were parked, among other things.

Like any show, the closer the better, like the two guys sitting in the backseat of a convertible in the front row with huge smiles on their faces.

It didn’t help that it was a thin crowd — the space holds just more than 200 cars — likely due to Monster Truck having to reschedule last-minute from Thursday night due to the weather with a lot of no-shows Friday night.

Tickets were priced for Row A-G $65 per occupant, Row H-Q $55 per occupant, and Row R-T $45 per occupant and if I had to advise anyone, it would be to get the best “seats” available.

Food and drinks came from servers carrying  brown paper bags from food trucks and you ordered off an app with water costing $5, burgers $12-$14, poutine $12-$14 and more — and there was obviously no alcohol given we were all in cars.

Socially-distanced music fans watch a performance by rock band Monster Truck at a drive-in concert held in a parking lot on Toronto’s waterfront on Friday, July 17, 2020. CARLOS OSORIO/REUTERS



The most frustrating thing about the entire experience was the lack of community.

Everyone is inside their car and you can’t stand outside — despite an empty parking space in between cars — unless it’s to use the washroom at Rebel due to city constraints.

So when the guy next to me yelled, “This is bull—-!” I asked him why and he said he just wanted to be outside and rock.

I had a media wristband so I could get out and take photos and wander around, but you could see others trying to get away with it and being told to get back in their cars.

One woman even held a Monster Truck placard over her head while sticking out of the top of her vehicle until security told her to get down.

This is the biggest challenge of this experience and perhaps as we get lower COVID-19 numbers, the city will ease up on such restrictions.

Given live concerts, as we previously knew them, aren’t expected to come back until late 2021 or even early 2022, this may be our best option for now.


In the meantime, maybe concerts catering to pedestrians and cyclists with safe social distancing in place will come along, too.

Seven Seas Blues
Devil Don’t Care
Old Train
She’s a Witch
The Enforcer
Love and Time
Fuzz Mountain
Righteous Smoke
True Rocker
Country Livin’
For the People
Denim Danger
For the Sun
Don’t Tell Me How To Live
New Soul
Sweet Mountain River
Why are You Not Rocking?
The Lion

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