Questions Arise After The Chainsmokers Drive-In Gig

The Chainsmokers are under fire for performing at a jam-packed charity concert in the Hamptons over the weekend as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the U.S.

The EDM-pop duo, made up of members Alex Pall and Drew Taggart, performed for thousands of people in Water Mill, N.Y. during a fundraiser event Saturday that was billed as a “Safe & Sound” gathering that “follows all social distancing guidelines,” according to the event website.

Drew Taggart  and Alex Pall attend Hamptons Magazine x The Chainsmokers VIP Dinner at The Barn at Nova's Ark on July 25, 2020 in Watermill, New York.
The Chainsmokers

Event organizers sold tickets for 600 vehicles and accompanying guests to enjoy the “tailgate experience” safely from the confines of a designated 20-foot area. “Guests may not leave there (sic)… area for GA unless using a restroom (mask required),” the website adds.

The concert in Water Mill sold ticket packages starting at $850. VIP access went for as much as $25,000 and included an RV. The event’s website declared that all proceeds will go toward local and national charities.

An estimated 2,000 people attended the concert on Saturday. And while many Chainsmokers fans boasted on social media about their unique and exclusive concert experience, a video originally taken by someone onstage with the band, and was later shared to Twitter, has people concerned about the potential health risks an event of this scale could pose.

However, social media footage from the event told a different story. A video from the group’s manager, Adam Alpert, that has circulated online showed a massive crowd of people gathered in front of the stage within six feet of one another, despite the event claiming to “meet all local health and safety standards, as well as state regulations.”

The group was labeled “straight up irresponsible” by some fans. 

“This irresponsibility of the chainsmokers having any sort of event in the current climate is absolutely appalling,” tweeted @positivesteven. “I am not ok with you risking everyone’s lives just so they can watch you press a space bar all night.”

Jesse McLaren added, “Fitting that The Chainsmokers are causing permanent lung damage,” referring to side effects from COVID-19. 

Courtesy: Sierra Smith / Instagram, Adam Alpert / Instagram

On Monday, New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said he was “greatly disturbed” by the event and announced the New York State Department of Health is opening an investigation.

“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,” Zucker wrote to Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.  

Despite footage of a massive crowd, the event organizers doubled down, insisting “social distancing guidelines” were followed in a statement.

“The event organizers followed all proper and current protocol,” organizers In the Know Experiences and Invisible Noise said, “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.”

All funds raised from the “drive-in” were donated to No Kid Hungry and Southampton Fresh Air Home and Children’s Medical Fund of New York, the statement added.

What’s your take on the New York event?

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Erik Lake

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