Dense Crowd Photo at Cover Band Gig Ignites Online Furor
Restaurant GM: “We’re adhering to the Governor’s executive orders”
By Kevin Curtin,
1:15PM, Tue. May 19, 2020
Bound to happen: The image of a dense concert crowd causing outcry from those carefully quarantining. That occurred last weekend – five days before Austin bars are allowed to open at 25% capacity this Friday.
On Sunday, LC Rocks, a local cover band that favors Sunset Strip-style hard rock, posted a photo on Facebook of the crowd from their previous night’s show at Emerald Point Bar & Grill in northwest Austin.
“What a GREAT night! Y’all ROCK!” read the post, accompanying an image showing roughly 50 people, two dozen of whom are standing in close proximity. No one in the picture appears to be wearing a mask.
While well-received by the band’s followers, the image quickly became a lightning rod on its social media host and Reddit, the latter amassing 200 comments roasting attendees for flouting social distancing guidelines to see a cover band. LC Rocks, who did not reply to an interview request with the Chronicle, later deleted the image from their page and addressed it in the comments:
“We deleted it because of your hateful thoughts. We’re very proud of that picture. It was an incredible night. People were so happy to be out living. Not everyone is scared like you.
“Some of us can see through all the bs.”
Emerald Point Bar & Grill General Manager Matt Norcia says the photo doesn’t represent how the audience looked during the band’s performance.
“That was an end-of-the-night thing where everybody ran up and they took that picture,” he insists. “The people in the picture are three groups of families that came together on boats and they all came up to the front to take that picture. It looks like it was packed in here, which wasn’t the case. Stuff gets blown out of proportion on social media, so we’re just going to eat that one.”
Norcia points out that video from Friday night’s performance by franchised cover band Spazmatics shows how he says the dance floor normally looks, with guests observing social distancing. A video still up on LC Rocks’ Facebook page, featuring them covering Journey’s “Faithfully,” shows a tightly amassed audience. Norcia says, “When crowds do come out [on the dance floor], we send security out to tell them to keep it chill.”
The situation underlines what will certainly be an ongoing challenge for bars beginning this coming weekend: Security staff will be tasked with enforcing social distancing.
The Emerald Point GM says that the three-story, 4,000-capacity business reopened May 1 because its food-to-alcohol ratio designates it as a restaurant. Norcia says the business mounted hand sanitizer stations, displayed COVID-19-related signage, removed half its tables to provide eight-foot spacing, moved subwoofers to the floor in order distance the crowd from the bands, brings in a cleaning crew twice daily, and tasks security with keeping a head count. He says that they’ve passed multiple checks from the Fire Marshall as well as the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.
“We’re adhering to the Governor’s executive orders,” he says. “We’re doing everything the way it’s supposed to be done. So when people say, ‘This doesn’t look like social distancing,’ well, we are regularly getting checked.”