Hit-making EDM/pop duo The Chainsmokers have never been known for their subtlety or maturity, and their problematic performance in the Hamptons this past weekend hasn’t helped diffuse that reputation.
On Saturday, July 25th, The Chainsmokers headlined a benefit concert in the high-end Long Island summer destination area billed as Safe & Sound Hamptons. Produced by luxury travel and lifestyle agency In The Know Experiences and sponsored by JaJa Tequila, the liquor brand partially owned by The Chainsmokers, the event was clearly targeted toward the wealthiest of concert-goers. Tickets to the event ranged from $1,250 to $25,000, with proceeds benefiting local charities including No Kid Hungry, Children’s Medical Fund of NY, and Southampton Fresh Air Home.
According to a 2019 Forbes list, The Chainsmokers were the highest-paid DJs in the world last year, though that classification could be argued by their opener on Saturday night: DJ D-Sol, otherwise known as Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon.
The performance was marketed as a drive-in gathering with CDC guidelines in place to maintain social distancing. As the organizers noted in pre-event marketing materials, “Safe & Sound will set the bar for a new era of immersive experiences. This will be a safe and controlled environment, setting the bar for all events to come.”
The Chainsmokers had a “Drive-in” concert last night.
No social-distancing during a pandemic. We may be doomed…pic.twitter.com/rreahTaK0p
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) July 27, 2020
As organizers told Billboard in a statement via email on Monday, they followed “all proper and current protocols,” checked guests’ temperatures, encouraged the use of face masks, and attempted to enforce their rule that attendees must stay in their car’s designated area unless they were using the restrooms. The estimated 2,000 attendees, however, had other plans, as video footage from the benefit shared widely on social media shows large crowds disobeying any and all distancing protocols and gathering in front of the stage.
“The video that everyone is talking about was taken from an angle that doesn’t properly convey how careful we were to follow the guidelines created by the CDC,” the statement from In the Know Experiences continues. “We did everything in our power to enforce New York’s social distancing guidelines and collaborated with all state and local health officials to keep everyone safe.” Read the full statement from organizers about The Chainsmokers show in the Hamptons below (via Billboard):
When we decided to produce this Drive-In Concert Fundraiser, our goal was to bring some joy into people’s lives during these difficult times, and do it in the safest possible environment. We also wanted to give back to these important charities, create awareness for these local businesses and provide work to over 350 people who have been unemployed as a result of the pandemic.
The video that everyone is talking about was taken from an angle that doesn’t properly convey how careful we were to follow the guidelines created by the CDC. We did everything in our power to enforce New York’s social distancing guidelines and collaborated with all state and local health officials to keep everyone safe.
Upon arrival, individuals within each car had their temperatures taken and were also provided complimentary face masks before driving to their designated 20′ x 20′ spot. 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.
We 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.
While BuzzFeed News did speak to several attendees who corroborated organizers’ reports of enforcement of guidelines and noted that they felt safe at the event, the footage has now drawn ire from the general public—and even the New York state government—as the country continues its efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus. In a tweet on Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo decried the gathering’s “egregious social distancing violations,” noting that he was “appalled” and promising a Department of Health investigation into the event and its organizers.
Videos from a concert held in Southampton on Saturday show egregious social distancing violations. I am appalled.
The Department of Health will conduct an investigation.
We have no tolerance for the illegal & reckless endangerment of public health.pic.twitter.com/gf9kggdo8w
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) July 28, 2020
In a strongly-worded letter to the supervisor of the town of Southampton, New York health commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker noted that he was “greatly disturbed” by the footage and reports of thousands of concert-goers packed together at The Chainsmokers show in the Hamptons while “generally not adhering to social-distancing guidance.” Continued Dr. Zucker, “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.”