Since the pandemic began and put a long, long pause on live music, many of us have dreamt of a time when we might return to a concert safely. And in those wildest dreams, you probably still never concocted a scenario quite as special as what happened this past Saturday: the Chainsmokers, at a drive-in concert in the Hamptons, presented by FuckJerry’s JAJA tequila brand (which they are also co-owners of), and with Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon performing an opening DJ set. Truly, this is the light at the end of the tunnel we had been awaiting.
Given, there are some caveats to consider. The event’s ludicrous ticket prices were high because of a charity, even if it immediately scanned as “rich people who don’t give a fuck about anyone else going to a Chainsmokers concert while the pandemic is still very much going on.” And, honestly, there are events like this going on all over the place — some exceedingly dumb, but many more beginning to crop up that legitimately try to follow safety precautions and bring a bit of live music joy back into people’s lives. Thing is, the Chainsmokers gig has elicited a whole lot of criticism because while it claims to have fallen into the latter camp it certainly didn’t look, as its title suggested, “Safe & Sound” to be there on Saturday night, with videos circulating showing audience members crowding around the stage.
This drew the ire of none other than our governor, Andrew Cuomo, who proclaimed the Department Of Health would conduct an investigation. In the meantime, according to TMZ, the festival’s organizers have maintained their claims that the concert did follow safety precautions and that the videos are misleading. As an added twist, the Southampton town supervisor who had to approve all this, Jay Schneiderman, evidently performed at the gig with his band too.
All of this has been condemned by New York Health Commissioner Howard A. Zucker, who’s now offered a more detailed response in the form of a letter in Rolling Stone. He does not mince words, kicking the whole thing off by saying the Chainsmokers concert “mocks New Yorkers’ months-long work to flatten the curve and contain the virus.”
This is not just a lack of common sense, but an illegal and reckless endangerment of public health…
I think what struck our collective nerve was seeing so many with so much to their advantage — concert attendees were generally young, healthy, and, as indicated by the $850 ticket prices, able to afford health care if they should need it — be so cavalier about taking a risk that could have dire consequences for many.
You don’t have to be the commissioner of health to realize that when it comes to contracting and transmitting a contagious and dangerous disease, every one of us is a card-carrying member of the rank-and-file. COVID-19 is an equal-opportunity infector: It doesn’t recognize skin color or the thickness of stock portfolios.
In addition to the mentioning the investigation, Zucker also keeps referring to the idea that he overall believes “in the goodwill and wisdom of the greater public,” which is the kind of thing that, speaking as a New Yorker who is sitting here watch everyone piss away the progress we made in the last couple months, is really hard to agree with right now! Read Zucker’s whole letter here.