Great White played a live concert on July 9 in Dickerson, N.D., where there appeared to be no social distancing and few masks in sight during the coronavirus pandemic. A YouTube video, which was filmed from the stage during the outdoor set, showed attendees crowded together around the stage as the band performed.
The show was part of the First on First: Dickinson Summer Nights music series. Per the event’s Facebook page, more than 400 people indicated they would be attending that evening.
As the concert made headlines for its apparent lack of distancing and masks, Great White issued a statement, which the band shared with Billboard:
“We understand that there are some people who are upset that we performed this show, during this trying time. We assure you that we worked with the Promoter. 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. The Promoter and staff were nothing but professional and assured us of the safety precautions. Our intent was simply to perform our gig, outside, in a welcoming, small town. We value the health and safety of each and every one of our fans, as well as our American and global community. We are far from perfect.”
Ahead of the First on First music series kickoff in mid June, event coordinator April Getz told The Dickinson Press that it was one of the first events that Dickinson didn’t cancel due to the COVID-19 crisis. As for health guidelines such as social distancing and masks, Getz told the publication that there were none in place. “We do not have restrictions, believe it or not,” she said. “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.” (North Dakota does not have a mask mandate.)
Billboard has reached out to First on First for comment.
This is not the first time a Great White concert has led to controversy and criticism. In 2003, the band’s onstage pyrotechnics during a Rhode Island nightclub show led to a fire that killed 100 people and injured more than 200 others. The club owners and tour manager were charged.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, artists around the world have canceled concerts, opting instead to do livestream shows. More recently, some musicians have begun doing drive-in concerts to encourage social distancing, and a few have done in-person shows. Among them are DaBaby, Chase Rice, and Chris Janson, with the latter two facing criticism for their shows, which did not appear to have social distancing or masks enforced.
Watch the footage from the Great White set below: