New Dates, Music, and a Glimpse of Normalcy at Rolling Loud 2021

Ruri Duffy, Contributing Writer

It’s hard to remember a time when concerts and music festivals were a part of daily life. After in-person attendance for major festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Boston Calling was cancelled in 2020, many hoped that 2021 would be different. With summer approaching, Miami’s Rolling Loud festival is on track to happen in late July, headlined by A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott, and Post Malone, as well as Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage and dozens more artists. 

Aside from some of the top artists, the variety of music is intriguing as well; Saniah Mahumd ’23 said she liked that $uicide Boy$ would be performing, because they are more “underground” than some of the event’s headliners. Rolling Loud has helped even the smallest new rappers get a leg up in the music world. The festival has not swayed from its hip-hop lineups and continues to attract die-hard fans. What started as a small, one day event in 2015 for hopeful indie rappers has become the biggest and one of the only festivals completely dedicated to rap music. 

The festival was canceled in 2020 due to COVID, and was originally rescheduled for May 2021. Virtual performances and concerts were held in an attempt to keep fans interested after the cancellation in 2020, but by 2021 people were ready to see some live music. When the time came, officials weren’t confident that the pandemic was under control, or that enough people were vaccinated, so it was postponed for a second time to July 23-25 of 2021, which are the dates in place now. Fans are hoping this date will stick. 

Rolling Loud is taking the first step in continuing events of its kind.”

Precautions for the event aren’t yet clear; the FAQ section of their website lists questions asking if people will need to be vaccinated and wearing a mask, and the answers are nothing if not vague. The site promises that the safety of the attendees is being considered by both the organizers, state, and local officials, but simply prompts attendees to keep an eye on their email for updates in lieu of addressing the questions. Florida has already been a poster child for irresponsibility during the pandemic with an astonishing lack of safety requirements. After being one of the only states to welcome students over spring break (which resulted in a disastrous spike of cases and a frantic attempt to backtrack), it seems fitting that they’re also the first to re-implement music festivals. Based on Governor Charlie Baker’s continued enforcement of mask mandates and yet another cancellation of Boston Calling, it doesn’t seem Massachusetts—or the rest of the country, for that matter—will be following in their footsteps. 

The situation does bring up a common question nowadays: how will vaccines play a role in large in-person events moving forward? Vaccinations have granted more freedom than people have seen in months, while those refusing a vaccine or still awaiting one are still constrained by safety restrictions. If, as the world opens up again, organizations and events like Rolling Loud decide to require vaccinations, it will bring up questions of whether or not people believe exclusion based on vaccinations is fair; after all, controversy is already rising about restrictions for things like airline flights. 

New CDC guidelines have loosened requirements on masks for fully vaccinated people participating in outdoor activities. However, the CDC still urges everyone to wear masks during large indoor and outdoor events regardless of vaccination status.

When some CRLS students were asked whether they believed it was safe, most said yes as long as people were vaccinated, or at least wearing a mask. Donovan Boros ’23 said, “I do think it’s a lot safer than it used to be,” but would only attend a crowded festival himself if he was fully vaccinated. This sentiment is shared by some students, but others are more hesitant. Mahmud, for example, said she most likely wouldn’t attend big gatherings any time soon, “… even with the vaccine or people who have taken it, because the virus could still potentially spread.”

As life begins to return to normal, Rolling Loud is taking the first step in continuing events of its kind. People across the country are excited to finally start seeing their favorite artists live again, and hopefully, Rolling Loud will be the first of many chances to do so.