Steel Panther Played Three Packed Live Shows in Florida This Weekend to Maskless Audiences
Folks: did you know that the Covid-19 pandemic is over in Florida?
Steel Panther, who are certainly acting like it is, played three live shows in Florida this weekend despite the pandemic reaching its worst heights so far, shattering infection and death rates from last spring.
While the venues in Orlando. St. Petersburg and Ft. Myers that hosted the shows purported to take precautions that would keep concertgoers safe, several photos and fan-filmed videos of the concerts depict packed crowds that are largely unmasked.
The Ace Cafe, where the Orlando concert took place on Thursday, December 17, posted a message on its Facebook page the afternoon before the show that included the following alleged safety precuations:
“We are requiring masks upon arrival at the venue, while indoors and not actively eating or drinking. A mask will be provided to you if you do not have one. Sanitation stations located around the venue. Temperature checks will also be administered upon entry and social distancing is encouraged.”
Many concertgoers did not keep their masks on once entering the venue, and the venue did not strictly enforce that rule. Nor did many of the attendees heed the venue’s recommendation to maintain social distance from one another.
Music journalist and podcast host Mitch Lafon was one of the first to post illuminating photos of the Orlando show, sent to him by an attendee (he says he was not at the show, safely at home in Montreal):
The first 15 seconds of this fan-filmed video provide a good look at the audience, packed tightly up front, with not a mask in sight:
The situation the following night at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg wasn’t much different. A video from that show in the comments of this thread on the Steel MFing Panther Fanpage on Facebook shows the audience packed in tight, largely maskless, watching the band performing Judas Priest’s “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” with pro wrestler, Fozzy frontman and friend of Donald Trump Jr., Chris Jericho.
A bird’s eye photo of the St. Petersburg posted on social media provides a better view of the audience:
One taken from the back shows folks a reasonable distance apart towards the back (albeit maskless), but packed together up front:
A message from the venue, advising patrons to wear masks and keep their distance, was widely ignored and was clearly not enforced:
“Everyone walking into the venue will have to temperature check, masks are required to enter, If you are immune deficient we ask you don’t attend. We will provide free masks if you don’t have one and hand sanitizer at the gate before you enter. Please keep your distance when you can!”
The run’s final show, on Saturday, December 18 at The Ranch Concert Hall in Ft. Myers, took place indoors (you can see some older photos of the venue here). The venue’s website nor Facebook page display any kind of safety precaution messages that I could find… not that patrons would have been likely to follow the largely symbolic warnings anyway. A brief video of the show doesn’t provide a good view of whether fans were wearing masks, but it does show them packed up front and screaming loudly:
I have long stood up for Steel Panther when others wouldn’t, arguing that they are the world’s best satirists, that they’re in on the joke while making fun of both themselves and their fans, all willing participants, and the ridiculous culture from which they come. That their endless off-color jokes were meant as meta, Andy Kaufman-esque commentary aimed at the people who think that way, not an embodiment of those views. Perhaps they’ve been trumpeting the “anti-PC” rhetoric for so long now they’ve begun believing it, or maybe they’re willing to go that far for the joke, or they’re really just that desperate for a paycheck, or maybe they’ve been this way all along and I just didn’t see it. Either way, I don’t see how I can continue to support them in good faith. When a band decides to put their fans’ lives at risk, and more importantly, the lives of every single person those people come into contact with in the coming weeks, I can no longer back them.
3,611 people died in the U.S. on December 16, the highest total of any day yet. Infection rates are increasing, hospitalizations are on the rise, and deaths are skyrocketing — and we’re not even into the worst of it yet. Hosting a concert during this time is not only irresponsible, it’s dangerous, and will lead to death. Not the kind of death we publicly mourn when, say, a crowd-surfer suffers a traumatic head injury and dies, but one several degrees removed that no one in the band will ever see or know about. It will happen. That is fact. Steel Panther, I hope you read that and take it to bed with you tonight. Death, on your shoulders.
I fully recognize that musicians need to earn a living, which is more difficult right now than ever, but there are ways that don’t involve literally propagating death. Steel Panther know this as well as anyone: their livestream concerts have done well, according to folks I’ve spoken to. We’re all out here struggling because of the loss of live music… MetalSucks, too.
Get it together, dudes. You lost a fan today, and likely many more. If that’s the cross you want to die on — “freedom” above all — so be it, and good luck.
Steel Panther did not respond to a request to comment on this article.