The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is investigating the packed Tomkins Square Park concert that drew crowds of around 2,000-3,000 on Saturday, April 24. Local hardcore bands including Madball, Bloodclot and Murphy’s Law were permitted to play a free show in the park under the stipulation that they’d have to adhere to COVID-19 protocols. However, photos and videos of the performances make it apparent that social distancing was not enforced and there seemed to be few people wearing masks.
According to The New York Times, outdoor venues are only allowed to have a maximum capacity of 200 people, or 500 people if all of them have proved a negative COVID-19 diagnosis, and the permit was only given on the assumption that those standards would be met. For comparison, indoor concerts are allowed a maximum of 100 people. It’s quite possible that the crowds drawn by the free concert make it the largest city-permitted show since lockdown restrictions began in the city over a year ago.
Black N’ Blue Productions organized the concert, who have explained their anti-lockdown stance more clearly through their tweets. Although it was a free show, attendees were encouraged to donate to the New York City Burn Center Foundation, for which they raised over $6,000. The full lineup included Madball, Murphy’s Law, Bloodclot, Wisdom in Chains and The Capturers.
Bloodclot/former Cro-Mags vocalist John Joseph posted to Instagram about the concert, thanking the organizers, the other bands, all those who donated to the burn center and “well over 2000 people” who attended the show. He also stated, “And let me say this – to all those talking shit. For the last year in NYC there were protests – tens and thousands of people in the streets – some rioting and looting engaging in bias attacks – on 4/20 weed day – thousands filled Washington Square Park – sharing blunts and weed pipes. Nobody said shit. This was our PROTEST – OUR RALLY. People who didn’t want to come – stayed away. Good – nobody missed their ass. They were free to live in fear – hide under their table and talk shit on social media.”
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Another of the acts to respond to the criticism was Wisdom in Chains, who also thanked those involved and commented, “It was our honor to be a part of something that was so obviously special, and from the words of so many there, it was so necessary for so many people’s well being and mental health.”
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New York City council member Keith Powers was also in attendance at the show, although standing at a safe distance while wearing a mask. He was glad to be attending a live concert and has been a constant supporter for Save Our Stages. However, he also had to criticize the event, “We’re all excited about supporting our music scene, but we still need to remember that we’re in a pandemic,” he told Gothamist. He went on to reference a Gorilla Biscuits song when asked about the event’s safety regulations, “I have reached out to organizers to remind them to ‘start today’ with better social distancing protocols.”
I’m in Tompkins Square Park seeing a live concert for the first time in a year. New York City, forever. 🎶 pic.twitter.com/Um1XCCkLVm
— Keith Powers (@KeithPowersNYC) April 24, 2021