A posh night of EDM and socially distanced revelry was promised this past Saturday (July 25) when The Chainsmokers performed a charity drive-in concert in The Hamptons.
Admission for the event ran between $1,250-$25,000, with all profits going to local charities including No Kid Hungry, Children’s Medical Fund of NY and Southampton Fresh Air Home. The show, happening at a 100-acre outdoor sculpture park, opened with a set by Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, who performs as DJ D-Sol.
But online backlash has sparked in the wake up the show, with footage from the event shared via social media showing a crowd that didn’t appear to be properly distanced assembled in front of the stage.
Produced by In The Know Experiences and Invisible, organizers assured that the event would follow guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as all state and local health mandates. Before online ticket purchases were finalized, guests had to complete an online COVID-19 questionnaire. Attendees were given free face masks and had their temperatures taken upon arrival. Bathrooms at the event were also cleaned every ten minutes.
“Guests were also instructed that they would not be allowed to leave their designed spots for any reason other than to use the restroom facilities,” reads a statement provided to Billboard by In the Know Experiences and Invisible Noise (below). “Announcements and reminders were made every 30 minutes from the main stage, and security guards regularly patrolled the area to encourage mask wearing and promote social distancing guidelines.”
But the show has faced significant backlash on Twitter, with artists including The Knocks and others assessing that the show put lives in danger while the rate of COVID-19 infections hit record highs across the country. But event organizers say they did everything within their power to ensure safety protocols were followed, despite the fact that videos circulating online appear as though a sizable crowd was gathered in front of the stage.
“The video that everyone is talking about was taken from an angle that doesn’t properly convey how careful we were to follow the guidelines created by the CDC,” the statement from In the Know Experiences continues. ‘We did everything in our power to enforce New York’s social distancing guidelines and collaborated with all state and local health officials to keep everyone safe.”
The Chainsmokers are not the first artists to face criticism after performing during quarantine, with country artist Chase Rice facing severe backlash after performing to a packed crowd of roughly 1,000 people in June.
Drive-in concerts have, however, become emerged as a new way for promoters and artists to safely perform concerts during quarantine, with a long list of acts including Alan Jackson, Mark Ribellet, The Avett Brothers and more all performing live drive-in shows as concerts and festivals have been cancelled due to the pandemic.
When we decided to produce this Drive-In Concert Fundraiser, our goal was to bring some joy into people’s lives during these difficult times, and do it in the safest possible environment. We also wanted to give back to these important charities, create awareness for these local businesses and provide work to over 350 people who have been unemployed as a result of the pandemic.
The video that everyone is talking about was taken from an angle that doesn’t properly convey how careful we were to follow the guidelines created by the CDC. We did everything in our power to enforce New York’s social distancing guidelines and collaborated with all state and local health officials to keep everyone safe.
Upon arrival, individuals within each car had their temperatures taken and were also provided complimentary face masks before driving to their designated 20′ x 20′ spot. Guests were also instructed that they would not be allowed to leave their designed spots for any reason other than to use the restroom facilities. Announcements and reminders were made every 30 minutes from the main stage, and security guards regularly patrolled the area to encourage mask wearing and promote social distancing guidelines.
We followed all proper and current protocol, including spacing each spot more than six feet apart, positioning sanitizing stations throughout the open grounds, temperature checks for all attendees, sanitization of restrooms every 10 minutes, local security enforcing guests to wear their masks both in and out of their designated areas, contact tracing, clearly marked parking zones, as well as providing complimentary face masks upon arrival.