Dan Mangan Performing Virtually

Remember the days of a real Friday night? Finishing school or work and quickly heading home, excited for the night ahead. Texting your friends wondering what they are wearing and confirming to meet for dinner at six before the concert at 8. 8pm? Now on a Friday at that tine, I’m in my pyjamas on the couch with a glass of wine watching Real Housewives. I could not even image going out that late anymore. It must be very different for performers too, not able to play their music live to fans in person. 

Throughout 2020, with his Nice, Nice, Very Nice 10th Anniversary Tour canceled, Dan Mangan took his shows virtual. He got to experience playing for people in Estonia, China, India and Argentina, all places he has never toured in. He gets to meet these people and he says after the show is over, it still feels as though it was a real live show with a different connection being made.

Dan is one of the co-founders of Side Door, alongside Laura Simpson, which builds impromptu communities through a shared experience of art. The platform helps artists make a living and are able to play shows on their own terms. Before Side Door expanded to online, they helped artists find venues and connected them with hosts all over the world. Side Door is a “community marketplace.” The platform moved to online shows once COVID-19 hit. They have teamed up with Zoom to build a unique and secure ticketing portal, with no shareable links and no hassle. Side Door has had performers from Mangan himself to Vance Joy to the Fast Romantics.

He told Vancouver Weekly, “We get like a thousand people on one of these shows and appearing into a thousand homes, and there are families, people alone, there are dogs, kids, dancing, crying, knitting, baking… it’s like humanity in a jar.”

He has been trying to stay away from Instagram lives as people seem to leave quickly. If people have an actual date on the calendar and a ticket, then they will show up and watch the whole show. He has found that this allows him to still make a living while the audience is feeling like they have been to a show worth their while and they will come back since it’s  a different experience and interaction every time.

Mangan told Global News that being out of live shows for so long is quite “crippling.” Mangan uses music to help fill in gaps of areas that are limited in using his lyrics to be simple and direct which can be powerful in the world we are living in.

Mangan formed his first band at sixteen, called Basement Suit with some of his classmates and they would play at local Vancouver community centres. At 20, Mangan went out on his own and recoded his first EP, All At Once. Five hundred copies of the album were made and they were sold or given away around Vancouver. In 2005, with the help of community musicians and a bank loan, he recorded and released his album Post Cards & Daydreaming which he sold at live shows as well as online and the following year it was released in the US increasing his fanbase. His second album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice releasing in 2009 and 2011’s Oh, Fortune, was the winner of two Juno Awards. His fourth studio album, Club Meds dropped in early 2015, under Dan Mangan + Blacksmith which was a way to include the work of his collaborators.

Along with music, Mangan is a contributor to the Guardian’s Arts section, Montecristo Magazine and Huffington Post Canada.

I wonder what the future of live shows and touring will look like in the next few years. I know for me, although it will be way past my bedtime, I can’t wait to get back to experiencing concerts and live shows.

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