Published: 08:17, 08 June 2021
| Updated: 14:43, 08 June 2021
With venues, artists and fans patiently waiting for the government to drop restrictions and allow full-blown music events to go ahead once again, some have gone for the workaround and put on socially distanced shows.
To find out what a Covid-compliant punk gig looks like, we sent KentOnline's resident music nerd Oliver Kemp to find out.
There are certain things you come to expect from a punk show - raucous crowds, a good bit of pushing, and leaving with at least one pint of lager drying on your jacket.
Looking back on the halcyon days of my youth I can remember a single summer where, over the course of three shows, I managed to: bruise my ribs as I was crushed by an impassioned crowd; get mild concussion from a crowd-surfing guitarist; and end up with the blood from the head of a lead singer smeared all over my shirt.
It's not for everyone, of course - and those memories do represent the more extreme end of the gigging experience spectrum - but it's difficult to deny the adrenaline-fuelled excitement of heavy music being thrashed out on stage by a sweaty band.
So a sit-down gig in a theatre is something that gives me a slight sense of unease, not least because the band performing happen to be one of the more exciting groups to come out of the British scene in the past few years.
Itching to get back on the road again, South London's Shame decided to embark on a socially distanced tour of the UK, spanning from Glasgow all the way to Kent.
In the past few years they've made a name for themselves with their vim and vigour both on record and onstage, belting out songs that pull back on neither the melody or aggression.
And front man Charlie Steen is regularly shirtless at the band's gigs, writhing around on top of the crowd in the first few rows - come on, it's a punk show staple!
But of course, none of that can happen right now.
Staff at Assembly Hall Theatre, in Tunbridge Wells, meticulously planned the inside of the venue to allow for social distancing and the requisite requirements of a post-pandemic world.
Instructions before arriving at the venue explained there are no fewer than 22 hand sanitising stations, and that a face covering must be worn at all times except when to eat a snack or sip a drink.
Handing over my ticket to the staff member on the door, I rubbed my hands together and excitedly asked where the bar is.
This is when I was informed that if I wanted a drink I had to pre-order it on their website along with my ticket, and that no additional drinks would be served this evening.
No beer for me, then. This event just gets weirder.
Taking my seat, I sensed a palpable awkwardness from the other punters dotted about the venue.
It was almost as if the etiquette of a live gig had been stripped away, feeling as if we are were about to watch a West End show rather than a hedonistic punk set.
It would be stretching to describe the venue as packed, too - although some seats were blocked out between groups to allow for social distancing, a check of the website beforehand revealed scores of tickets not sold.
Perhaps the Covid-compliance aspect put a lot of music fans off - it's certainly not down to tonight's performers, who last time were in the town in 2018 sold out the Tunbridge Wells Forum.
It's a crying shame (pardon the pun) if that is the reason so many seats sat empty, because as the six-piece took to the stage the majority of my misgivings melted away.
True enough, there is something unfathomably strange about being sat quietly in theatre seats, whilst a fired-up band collectively raze the stage to the ground.
And you can forget singing along to the songs unless you want to spend the entire set replacing the mask that keeps slipping down your face.
Looking around me, much of the masked crowd look as if they were furiously chewing rather than singing along to the music.
Hopping up and down and launching your hands in the air had to be substituted for vigorous foot tapping and spirited head nodding, with a healthy round of applause and whoops between tracks.
But despite all of the weirdness, the lack of beer, the seats, the masks - and not even a slight chance of getting injured in a ferocious mosh pit - it was a belter of a show.
For starters, the band's performance was brimming with energy from the first squall of guitar feedback, throwing themselves wholeheartedly into every track on the set list.
Frontman Charlie Steen flailed his arms about and stared into the seated crowd maniacally, and I got the sense he was almost relishing the surreality of the situation.
"Hopping up and down and launching your hands in the air had to be substituted for vigorous foot tapping and spirited head nodding..."
Bassist Josh Finerty couldn't resist not one but two somersaults, each time ripping the jack cable out of his guitar so he had to frantically put it back in again.
And as someone who has spent most of his spare money on gig tickets since the age of 14, the sheer joy of seeing live music once again meant nothing else really mattered.
Towards the end of the show, Steen thanked the crowd and shouted, "Nights like tonight show there's a light at the end of the long ******* tunnel."
He was bang on with that assessment.
This tempered Covid-compliant punk show reminded this music fan of exactly two things: what we lost over the past 15 months, but more importantly what we have to look forward to.
The pandemic swiftly axed gig going for me and thousands of others, and I for one feel incredibly grateful to finally have it back - mask or no mask.
Elsewhere in Kent, the biggest theatre in the county is preparing to open after being closed for 448 days.