Friday, July 17, 2020

How is it possible that these guys are still performing?

It's nearly twenty years in the rear-view mirror, but in 2003 there was an horrific fire at a nightclub outside of Providence, Rhode Island. The band that was playing that night, Great White, was a low-rent heavy metal band that had been kicking around since the late seventies. One hundred people were killed in the fire, including one of the band members. Many of the survivors suffered terrible burns (not to mention major psychological trauma). 

The band's manager, who had set off the pyrotechnics that ignited the acoustic tile that set the fire off, ended up with a prison sentence. (This fellow also emerged as one of the good guys of the incident, taking full responsibility for his actions, pleading guilty to spare the victims' families the pain of the trial, and writing personal apology notes to each of those families.) One of the nightclub's owners also did time. 

But the band, apparently, played on, one-hit wonders still performing around the country. 

Maybe it's just me, but I find it amazing that they're still in business. Maybe it's just me, but I would have changed the band's name. 

The only reason I know they're still in existence is because their recent concert in Dickinson, North Dakota, got some air play because most of the members of the audience weren't wearing masks or practicing social distancing. Given that Great White is a low-rent heavy metal band, this doesn't surprise me. And, truly, I don't see why it would be their fault that their fans would show up for a concert unmasked. IMHO, it would be up to the venue to enforce the high-stakes 2020 version of "no shirt-no shoes-no service."

Nevertheless, Great White took some heat for their decision to take to the stage. And ended up issuing an apology: 
"We understand that there are some people who are upset that we performed this show, during this trying time," the band wrote in a statement obtained by CNN of the performance in Dickinson, North Dakota, last Thursday.
"North Dakota's government recommends masks be worn, however, we are not in a position to enforce the laws. We have had the luxury of hindsight and we would like to apologize to those who disagree with our decision to fulfill our contractual agreement," Great White stated. "We are far from perfect." (Source: CNN)
Seems to me that the ones who should have been apologizing were the concert organizers. But, no. 
First On First: Dickinson Summer Nights event coordinator April Getz told the Dickinson Press (via Blabbermouth) of the city’s plan to hold concerts despite coronavirus, “We do not have restrictions, believe it or not, we don’t have any. I guess it’s one of the first events this year that didn’t get canceled and was approved by the city; we’re all very, very excited about it… It’s one of those things where if people feel comfortable coming down and mixing and mingling, that’s their personal choice. We’re leaving it up to everybody that chooses to attend.” (Source: Rolling Stone)
Love to see that the live free or die spirit isn't just for folks from New Hampshire.

And I just don't get the "personal choice" thang. Would these folks also maintain that stopping for red light is a personal choice? Is there no sense of the common good? Of you protect me, I'll protect you?

Yes, the risk of catching COVID at the concert was probably low. It was held outdoors, and the chance of transmission when you're outside is less than when you're indoor. Still, the attendees were packed together. And no doubt singing along to Great White's greatest hit. So, little droplets were definitely ponging around. It wouldn't kill people to wear a mask. It might kill them and those around them not to.

Anyway, other than the type of audience they're likely to attract, I don't see why any of this is Great White's fault. It's not like setting off pyrotechnics in a jam-packed, shoddily built nightclub.

I'm just amazed to see they're still floating around after all these years. Maybe the Stationhouse fire notoriety has been good for business. 

They have plenty of shows coming up, by the way. If you're anywhere near Sturgis, SD on August 12, you might want to swing by the Sturgis Buffalo Chip to see if anyone's wearing a mask. Meanwhile, Great White also has a store, where you can buy the predictable stuff - tee-shirts - and the less predictable merch - beard oil. May I suggest that they also add face masks to their offerings? Might just be their second greatest hit.

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