Great White Played a Show with No Mask or Social Distancing Requirements
On February 20, 2003, Great White performed at the Station nightclub in Rhode Island using pyrotechnics that were not approved for the small room. The venue caught fire during the first song, and 100 people would lose their lives (with an additional 230 injured) in the ensuing rush to escape, burned alive, suffocated or trampled in the stampede.
This past Thursday, July 9, Great White once again displayed their disregard for human lives by performing a concert for hundreds of fans crammed together without any requirements for masks or social distancing.
The performance took place in Dickinson, North Dakota as part of “First On First: Dickinson Summer Nights” outdoor series. April Getz, who works for Odd Fellows, the company that ran the event, outlined the show’s policy for social distancing and masks to The Dickinson Press:
“We do not have restrictions, believe it or not, we don’t have any. 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.”
Video of the performance clearly indicates that very few attendees were wearing masks, with concertgoers crammed tightly into the area immediately surrounding the stage.
To be fair, the state’s Covid-19 tally is relatively low, with 4,243 reported cases and 87 deaths, and as we now know, outdoor gatherings are less risky than indoor ones.
Still, performing a concert of any kind right now with no safety requirements is not only dangerous but callous. Yes, people have the freedom to act as they choose, but as we’ve clearly seen here in American in recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of folks remain woefully ignorant of the risks of this virus and clearly need an authority to step in to intervene in their collective best interests. What’s more, it’s shocking that Great White — who already have a hundred lives on their consciences — would risk losing even one more.
Notably, only one current member of Great White was in frontman Jack Russell’s touring version of the band (“Jack Russell’s Great White”) when the Station fire occurred: guitarist Mark Kendall. Guitarist Ty Longley lost his life in the 2003 fire, while frontman Russell would take several years off before re-forming Jack Russell’s Great White. The other members of the band at the time of the fire have all since left.
Russell, for his part, has been a vocal supporter of wearing masks and staying safe, telling Austria’s Mulatschag in a recent interview:
“No [I don’t often go out]. I go to the store when I have to. There’s no need to be out [in public places]. People don’t take it seriously — they don’t take the virus seriously. It’s sad. I don’t know what everybody else out there is thinking — they may think I’m full of it — but I take this very seriously.
“It’s no small wonder that when you open all these places up, ‘Gee, the numbers [of coronavirus cases] rose up.’ It’s, like, what did you think was gonna happen? It’s, like, ‘I took my mask off and I got COVID.’ Well, what a big surprise that is.
“People just don’t think. They come down to the beach down here [Russell lives in Redondo Beach, CA] and they wanna pretend like [the virus] doesn’t exist. Well, that’s fine. If you wanna get sick, that’s great. But put your mask on for me, because I’ve got my mask on.
“The numbers, the way it works out, if I just wear [my mask], I’m not that safe. If you put yours on too, I’m 70 percent safe as opposed to being zero-point-something [safe]. It’s amazing the amount that it changes. It’s, like, if you don’t wanna help yourself, help everybody else. ‘Well, it’s my right. It’s my human right.’ Well, look, dude, you’ve gotta pay for your car to get smogged, you’ve gotta have a seat belt, you have a driver’s license, you have to have a license to be born, you have to have a marriage license. I mean, so you have to wear a mask for a while so you don’t die. What’s the problem?”
You can watch footage of the recent North Dakota performance below. Should you need a reminder, you can also view footage of the fire in 2003, and the horrific panic and stampede that followed, underneath.
Update: This article has been modified to correct an earlier error which stated that Great White played the Station in 2003. It was in fact Jack Russell’s Great White that played that show.