Illustration of Ed Sousa by Sam Villareale
So what do you do when you’ve presold 2,200 tickets for a pair of charity music concerts which currently can only accommodate 50 patrons per night?
This is the quandary facing Ed Sousa who has been forced to reschedule his popular Ronald McDonald House McBowl Concert Series to Friday, May 14th, 2021 and May 15th, 2021, (staged at the Classic Bowl facility in Mississauga Ontario) following the cancellation of this May’s scheduled events due to COVID-19.
Yet even though he has been able to re-secure the original lineups (Honeymoon Suite, Saga, Harlequin for Friday, May 14th and Information Society, The Spoons, Strange Advance and Images In Vogue for Saturday, May 15th) the fate of these dates, plus Sousa’s three Rock And Bowl Intimate and Interactive sessions are at this moment out of his hands.
“The local health authorities have advised us not to book anything during the first quarter of 2021, right now we only have a capacity limit of 50 patrons per night so we have rescheduled the shows for May, hoping that the situation will have improved by then,” said a concerned Sousa. “The best minds in the world are working on creating a vaccine that will allow society to return to normal, whatever the new normal is. But if they don’t, our whole economic situation will be extremely dire.”
Sousa says he has confirmed all the bands, originally scheduled for 2020 have been secured for 2021 but he is fully aware, that if next year’s event is cancelled, there will be serious repercussions about maintaining the series. “You only get so many kicks at the can,” he says. “Once a show gets rebooked twice if it doesn’t happen then that’s pretty well it.”
As it stands now, the majority of ticket holders are content to hold on to their tickets. “I can count the refund requests on one hand” Sousa notes, and he has a waiting list of 120 people for any available VIP tickets. It’s a response that is reflective of the great success Sousa has achieved over the previous four years in which he has raised a total of $193,433.09 for Ronald McDonald House.
In that time, Sousa has secured the likes of Honeymoon Suite (who have headlined all four previous concerts), The Spoons, The Box, Images In Vogue, England’s A Flock Of Seagulls with the likes of Harlequin, Strange Advance and Information Society from the U.S being added to this impressive roster.
On top of this, three years ago, Sousa introduced his Rock And Bowl Series of Intimate and Interactive sessions in which key band members from major groups perform (mainly) acoustic sets interspersed with Q and A sessions with 100 fans staged in the venue’s lounge. He has a May 16th booking with Strange Advance, a May 30th date with The Grapes Of Wrath and a special Secret Show April 25th featuring a surprise band whose identity will not be known until they step on stage.
Yet even these dates would be imperilled under current restrictions as that 100 would count against the venue’s overall capacity each night, even though the events would be staged in a private lounge.
Sousa’s problem is that his events are so popular, they sell out well before their due dates. Considering that the show’s raise funds for a reputable charity (Ronald McDonald House), are great value for money ($45 per night general admission to see the likes of Honeymoon Suite, Saga and Harlequin on the same bill) and the sheer uniqueness of the bowling centre venue, he admits that selling tickets are pretty well a slam dunk task. To the point that he had expanded his McBowl event to two nights to accommodate ticket requests.
“Our fan base supports these shows so religiously, the concerts sell themselves,” boasts Sousa. “All I have to do is post the dates and the acts, then our supporters take over and become part our sales force. The majority of people buy tickets before they even know who’s playing.”
Yet with the pandemic still active, Sousa is concerned that many people will be averse to attending large indoor gatherings where social distancing will be an obvious problem.
“I never thought I would ever have to face so many hurdles in staging this event,” Sousa mused. “All I can do is schedule the shows and hope for the best.”
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CLASSIC BOWL Rock and Bowl Sessions