Great White apologizes for mask-less show in North Dakota

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DICKINSON, N.D. (AP) — Metal band Great White has apologized for performing at an outdoor North Dakota concert where the crowd didn’t wear masks despite the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.

The band drew criticism on social media after the performance Thursday night as part of the “First on First: Dickinson Summer Nights” concert series in Dickinson, in the southwest of the state. Spin magazine posted video showing the crowd packed in and not wearing face masks.

“We have had the luxury of hindsight and we would like to apologize to those who disagreed with our decision to fulfill our contractual agreement. The Promoter and staff were nothing but professional and assured us of the safety precautions,” Great White said in a statement Saturday.

Although North Dakota health officials recommend social distancing and wearing masks when possible, there is no legal requirement to do so in the state and Great White said the band nevertheless was “not in a position to enforce the laws.”

“Our intent was simply to perform our gig, outside, in a welcoming, small town,” said the band, which is best known for its version of “Once Bitten, Twice Shy.”

Country singers Chase Rice and Chris Janson recently were criticized for performing at outdoor concerts in front of large crowds of mask-less fans. Rice posted video of his concert in East Tennessee while Janson played a music festival in Filer, Idaho, where the governor has decided to keep the state at stage 4 of reopening due to a recent surge in infections.

A different iteration of Great White that included longtime frontman Jack Russell and that performed under the name Jack Russell’s Great White was involved in one of the most tragic concerts in U.S. history in 2003. During a show at The Station nightclub in Rhode Island, the band’s pyrotechnics sparked a fast-moving blaze that caused a bottleneck as fans tried to flee. The fire killed 100 people, including the band’s guitarist, Ty Longley, and injured more than 200 others.

Russell isn’t part of the band that performed in Dickinson and still has his own version. Great White is now fronted by lead singer Mitch Malloy, who is from Dickinson, a city of about 23,000 people. Founding guitarist Mark Kendall is the only Great White member who was both at The Station show, where he was a guest guitarist, and the Dickinson show.

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