It is clear that the hard rock/metal band Great White is used to performing under dangerous circumstances. Back in 2003, their pyrotechnics started a fire at a show they were playing at The Station in Warwick, RI. As a result, 100 people were killed including guitarist Ty Longley.
Last Thursday, the band put fans’ lives in danger again when they played a well-attended gig that was part of the First on First: Dickinson Summer Nights series in Dickinson, N. Dakota last Thursday. Footage from the concert shows fans standing shoulder to shoulder, despite social distancing recommendations, and there were no masks in sight.
After getting backlash for the performance, the band released the following statement. “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.”
Dickinson Summer Nights event coordinator April Getz had this to say. “We do not have restrictions, believe it or not, we don’t have any. I guess it’s one of the first events this year that didn’t get canceled and was approved by the city; we’re all very, very excited about it… 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.”
Although this is not the first time Great White’s name has been associated with dangerous performances, the band that performed in 2003 is not quite the same band that performed last Thursday.
The 2003 formation was known as Jack Russell’s Great White. After the Rhode Island tragedy, the band split into two factions, one led by Jack Russell and the other led by founding guitarist Mark Kendall. Kendall is the only member of the band who played both gigs.
Meanwhile, Mark Kendall’s Great White continues to rock with another gig scheduled for August 7 at Fort Madison, Iowa’s Riverfest FM festival. Despite the pandemic and the backlash surrounding Great White, the festival confirms that they will be moving forward with plans to host. “With all of the uncertainty, it would have been easy to throw in the towel on this year, but we firmly believe that ‘If we rock it, they will come’ and boy, do we have a line-up that is prepared to do just that,” the fest wrote on Facebook.
It is hopeful that we soon get a vaccine that ends all of this. In the meantime, stay safe out there!