Update: July 2, 2 p.m. ET — Vanilla Ice has indefinitely postponed a Texas concert that was set to take place on July 3 after receiving fierce backlash as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The rapper had been scheduled to play a general admission concert of up to 2,500 people at a family restaurant in Austin this Friday, however he made the decision to postpone the gig until a later date, according to the restaurant’s owner.
Barrett Brannam said Vanilla Ice ultimately decided not to play because of concerns for the health of his fans and himself. Brannam added that he didn’t know when the show will be rescheduled, as reported by the Associated Press.
“Hard to say,” he said. “Could be later this summer or not until next summer. We don’t know how long this virus will be around.”
Vanilla Ice took to Twitter to address the controversial show on Thursday, both confirming that the show was postponed and claiming that he was unaware of the recent spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases in Texas.
“I’m not going (to the show). I listen to my fans. I hear all my fans out there,” the Ice Ice Baby rapper said with a smile in the 44-second video update.
“I didn’t know the numbers were so crazy in Austin,” he added.
Vanilla Ice reportedly played the same restaurant, Emerald Point Bar & Grill, last year, in front of 1,800 people and is booked for additional gigs there within the next two years, according to Brannam.
Only 84 tickets of 2,500 had been sold before the online ticket broker suspended sales, Brannam said, before adding that he “didn’t know about COVID” when he booked Vanilla Ice sometime in 2019.
In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, American rapper Vanilla Ice announced a one-off Independence Day celebration concert at a restaurant in Austin, Texas, despite recent safety regulations set in place by state Governor Greg Abbott.
Last Friday, after surpassing 5,000 coronavirus-related hospitalizations, Abbott, 62, made the decision to scale back the state’s aggressive reopening strategy and ordered bars to close indefinitely, while also forcing restaurants to reduce capacity by 50 per cent, according to the Canadian Press.
All concerts in U.S.’s second-largest state were cancelled as a result too. However, Vanilla Ice (born Robert Van Winkle), seemingly found a loophole in the social distancing rules set in place by the governor following the spike.
Though Austin’s Emerald Point Bar & Grill can fit up 5,000 people in its “general admission” beach area, it is still technically considered a restaurant, which meant that the Ninja Rap hit-maker’s show on July 3 would have been allowed.
Before being postponed, the show was announced on Monday (June 29) via the 52-year-old’s official Twitter account. He was calling it the “Independence Day Throwback Beach Party.”
Promoter Mike Wade told the Austin Chronicle that the gig would allow up to 2,500 attendees — exactly 50 per cent of full capacity.
Before it was postponed, Eventbrite had tickets set between US$25 and $300. Albeit sold out, the latter price entailed “VIP seating” at the family restaurant. Additionally, the show was marked “kid and dog friendly,” according to the ticket seller.
A day before announcing the show, Vanilla Ice took to Instagram expressing dismay with not only the novel coronavirus, but the 2020s as well.
“I can’t wait to get back to this,” he wrote alongside a video of a crowd at one of his concerts. “The ’90s were the best. We didn’t have coronavirus, or cell phones, or computers.”
“We had 5.0‘s, Blockbuster, Beavis & Butthead, Wayne’s World, Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan,” he added, before using the hashtag #IMissThenineties.
The Dallas-born musician concluded calling the ’90s “the last of the great decades.”
On Tuesday (June 30) — a single day after Vanilla Ice’s concert announcement — the state reported 7,000 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Associated Press. Amid the surge, Abbott is continuing to urge citizens to stay home.
In response to the Independence Day Throwback Beach Party, an abundance of people took to social media criticizing not only the “washed-up has-been” rapper but those who wanted to attend the show, too.
“Imagine dying of the coronavirus because the idiot next to you at the grocery store went to a f—king Vanilla Ice concert,” one person tweeted.
Here’s what some other angered Twitter users wrote:
“These days I hear s—t like ‘Vanilla Ice to perform live concert despite COVID-19 spike’ and don’t even bat an eye,” tweeted another.
In response to the criticism, Vanilla Ice took to Twitter on Thursday (July 2) — hours before the event was postponed — to defend himself.
“I take the coronavirus serious. But we can’t live in a bubble,” he wrote.
In the since-deleted tweet, the rapper continued: “I think at this point we all understand the severity of it. Practice social distancing and wear a mask. This is an outside venue. Fourth of July on the lake with fireworks. Plenty of room for distancing.”
Vanilla Ice’s “stupid” decision to schedule a concert during a global pandemic follows that of country singer Chase Rice, who neither apologized nor expressed regret after putting nearly 1,000 of his fans at risk of contracting COVID-19 last weekend while putting on a show in Petros, small-town Tennessee.
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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.
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— With files from the Associated Press