Vanilla Ice has cancelled his concert in Austin this weekend after facing criticism amid Texas’s COVID-19 spike.
The 52-year-old “Ice Ice Baby” singer announced in an Instagram video that he’s “not going” to perform at Friday’s Independence Day Throwback Beach Party at Emerald Point Bar & Grill, on Lake Travis after all.
“I listen to my fans,” he said. “I hear all you people out there. I didn’t know the numbers were so crazy in Austin.”
The performer (real name: Robert Van Winkle) explained that when he booked the show “a long time ago,” he was “hoping [the pandemic] would be a lot better by Fourth of July.”
So now to “stay safe,” he pulled the plug. “We do take it serious and we do want to make sure everybody’s safe. We were just hoping for a good time Fourth of July weekend, but it turned into a big focal point on me and it’s not about that.”
He ended by wishing fans a happy Independence Day, adding, “Hopefully by New Year’s this corona crap will have a cure. Come on!”
Earlier Thursday, the singer defiantly maintained that he would be headlining the show, which was to take place in the outdoor venue despite bars in the city being shuttered due to COVID-19 and restaurants reducing capacity by 50 percent. Because Emerald Point Bar & Grill is classified as a restaurant with a capacity of 5,000, 2,500 people would have been able to attend the show even though Texas is currently a pandemic hotspot.
“Music makes the world go around,” he wrote, insisting the show would go on. “It makes people happy. I think we could all use some happiness with all this corona mess happening.”
He added in the comments, “I take everything serious with the coronavirus. But we can’t live in a bubble. We will 100 percent be practicing social distancing and everyone will have masks and be responsible, It’s an outside venue with plenty of room. It’s Fourth of July on the lake, with fireworks, much better in the real world then [sic] cyber world.”
The whole stir started when the ‘90s singer, who hails from Dallas, touted the show by sharing throwback videos of packed indoor concert venues, with concertgoers sans masks in pre-coronavirus times, and writing, “I can’t wait to get back to this.The ‘90s were the best. We didn’t have coronavirus, or cell phones or computers. We had 5.0's, Blockbuster, Beavis and Butt-head, Wayne's World, Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan ... the last of the great decades.”
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Tickets for the show had ranged in price from $25 (approx £20) for standing room spots to $300 (£240) for VIP seating. The VIP seating had already sold out.
Color Me Badd, another ‘90s act, is still set to perform at the same venue the next night, July 4. They remain on the venue’s calendar — though so does Vanilla Ice.
The Austin Chronicle reports the Emerald Point Bar & Grill was in the news in May when a local rock band, LC Rock, posted a photo of a show there which revealed that concertgoers in the heavily crowded area weren’t wearing masks or social distancing.
Texas has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations, leading to Gov. Greg Abbott ordering all bars in the state to re-close as well as restricting restaurant capacity.
He also banned outdoor gatherings of over 100 people, without local official approval.