WABASH, Ind. (WANE) — Over the past few weeks, drive-in theaters have shown older movies and pre-recorded concerts to bring in crowds, but the 13-24 Drive-In in Wabash is taking their entertainment from the screen to the stage.
With a limit on the size of public gatherings, the Honeywell Foundation had to look for other ways to offer their summer music series typically held in Carpenter Plaza. Their solution was to move the free concerts to the 13-24 Drive-In off State Road 13, where people can enjoy a show and practice social distance in their cars.
“They don’t have to stay in their car, they can sit around their car,” said Tod Minnich, CEO of the Honeywell Center. “So we have people out here in lawn chairs, and blankets and on the beds of pickup trucks, just really relaxing. It’s a little bit of a tailgate atmosphere right now and when the concert starts, I think you’ll see everybody really focused on the stage.”
The foundation put a limit parking to one car in between each set of the white poles that used to hold speakers, which puts their capacity at 50 percent. They also ask people to keep carloads to six people or less and to stay in their own cluster.
So far it has been mostly local groups to perform at the drive-in up until the Fourth of July, where GRAMMY award-winning Christian-Pop duo for King and Country brought their act to town. The group had been doing mostly virtual performances during the pandemic and starting looking into using a drive-in as a venue after hearing positive things about other acts doing the same.
“This seems like something that is a great solution to keep people safe and sound and pipe the music literally live into their cars but also offer them still a live presentation of a show,” said Joel Smallbone, one of two brothers that front the band.
The two shows performed at the 13-24 Drive-In were the first two shows the band has done at drive-in theaters. They said while it is not what they are used to, they are excited to try something new.
“It may be a little different Obviously, we’re used to playing off the crowd and you can hear people sing or clap or whatever and we’ll be playing for a lot of Fords and GMs and Toyotas and hopefully they like us,” said Luke Smallbone. “I think at the end of the day, in what we do, anytime you’re doing something a little bit unique, a little bit different, that’s kind of exciting for us.”
The Smallbones said if all goes well with this weekend’s shows, they will consider taking the act the other drive-in’s around the country because they feel like live shows offer a sense of community and they fell that, that is something people are looking for after months of COVID-19 restrictions.
“This COVID-19 situation has isolated a lot of us and I think people, even if we can’t physically be together, if we’re in cars and we’re doing this as a community, I think people are looking for that and longing for that and so, look, if this is the beginning of some grand adventure, we’ll try to do this as much as we can the rest of the year if people have us.”
One of the songs they performed was their latest single “TOGETHER”, which features Tori Kelly and Kirk Franklin, as well as two gospel choirs. The Smallbones said they had been working on the song for about two years and were not planning on releasing it until around the time of the November elections, but decided to put it out earlier as the coronavirus situation escaladed.
“We were in Canada right as COVID-19 was hitting the West and I remember we were playing an unreleased version of this song ‘TOGETHER’ on stage and Luke walked off stage that night and he looked at me and said this is the time and we need to release this song,” said Joel.
The Honeywell Foundation said they hope to bring other well-known acts to theater, if possible.