Earlier this month, there was a Page Six item announcing that The Chainsmokers, whom I have previously described as a “smelly frat house whose wish to become a real boy was granted by a perverse wizard,” would be headlining a concert this month at a drive-in fundraiser in the Hamptons. Featuring supporting acts such as Southampton’s Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, singer-songwriter Matt White and Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, the “Safe & Sound” benefit promised strict safety precautions. In addition to people being mandated to stay in their cars for the show (except to use restroom), there would be temperature checks, extra security and mandatory masks when using the restrooms. Even The Chainsmokers themselves would be socially distancing on stage.
What could possibly go wrong?
The Chainsmokers had a “Drive-in” concert in the Hamptons last night…looks like social distancing was strongly enforced 🤦🏻♂️….when NY gets the inevitable spike just blame these rich selfish white people
Via IG:adamalpert pic.twitter.com/yLe1XaE0hS
— Icculus The Brave (@FirenzeMike) July 26, 2020
The event did indeed take place Saturday night at Nova’s Ark Project, a 100-acre venue in Water Mill. There were designated “safe zones” where cars, which were only supposed to be 4-6 people max, were allowed to be in.
According to Bloomberg, the Winklevoss twins were among the celebs spotted at the event. They said that the parking spots cost as much as $25,000, and the top tier included an conditioned RV and private bathroom.
Bloomberg added a few more details about the event you might be interested in: “Valets dressed in white polos and khakis found ways to be helpful, like stopping the Surf Lodge vehicle from backing into some beach chairs as its driver tried to maneuver into a spot (the white lines delineating them had been sprayed on Friday). Others in golf carts dropped off bags of ice so guests could keep their drinks cold. (A crew of two ran from vehicle to cooler, row by row, under a blazing sun with cans of Red Bull and BrightFox.)”
Whatever was meant to happen, the social distancing appeared to collapse at some point in the night. And as you can see in the video below, which gives a clearer look at where the cars were situated, a lot of people seem to have left their cars and pushed forward toward the stage.
— Lauren Lipsay (@laurenlipsay) July 27, 2020
Adam Alpert, CEO of Disruptor Records who signed and helped form The Chainsmokers (he introduced the two members), bragged about the safety of the event on Instagram, saying the group “paved the way again” (what did they pave the way for previously?). He said there were 600 cars and 3,000 people in attendance. He was also the person who posted the top video above, which showed tons of people partying with nary a car in sight.
The entitlement is wild.. pic.twitter.com/YJZbguMP9N
— Black Lives Matter (@humanatii) July 27, 2020
On the plus side, the event raised money that is to be donated to No Kid Hungry, Children’s Medical Fund of New York and Southampton Fresh Air Home. On the negative side, this is yet another stark reminder why live music concerts can’t work in the midst of a pandemic.
According to a pamphlet given out at at the event, The Chainsmokers are threatening to hold similar live events in at least five other cities, including Miami, L.A., Nashville, Chicago and Atlanta.
Gothamist has reached out to Alpert, Governor Cuomo’s office, and In The Know Experience, the event producers, for comment about this weekend’s benefit. We’ll update when we get a response.
[Update 4:20 p.m.] A spokesperson for In The Know Experience maintained that the event followed the guidelines set by the CDC and that they “made best efforts to ensure New York’s social distancing guidelines were properly maintained throughout the event.” They have not commented directly about the videos which show people breaking the social distancing guidelines.
They do say that guests were instructed to monitor their temperatures for two weeks, and disclose if they had tested positive for COVID-19. They had their temperatures taken when they got there on Saturday, and in addition, “Guests were also instructed that they would not be allowed to leave their designed spots for any reason other than to use the restroom facilities. Announcements and reminders were made every 30 minutes from the main stage, and security guards regularly patrolled the area to encourage mask wearing and promote social distancing guidelines. The event organizers followed all proper and current protocol, including spacing each spot more than six feet apart, positioning sanitizing stations throughout the open grounds, temperature checks for all attendees, sanitization of restrooms every 10 minutes, local security enforcing guests to wear their masks both in and out of their designated areas, contact tracing, clearly marked parking zones, as well as providing complimentary face masks upon arrival.”
[Update 5:30 p.m.] A spokesperson for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office confirmed to Gothamist that the state is opening an investigation into this weekend’s event.
Dr. Howard Zucker, the NY state health commissioner, sent a letter to Southampton’s Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman (who also performed at the event), noting that currently “no non-essential gathering is permitted in excess of fifty individuals” and asking several questions about how the event came to be.
“I am greatly disturbed by reports concerning the ‘drive-in’ concert held in your town this past weekend, which apparently involved thousands of people in close proximity, out of their vehicles, a VIP area where there was no pretense of a vehicle, and generally not adhering to social distancing guidance,” Zucker wrote. “I am at a loss as to how the Town of Southampton could have issued a permit for such an event, how they believed it was legal and not an obvious public health threat.”