The world-renowned Austin City Limits Music Festival has been canceled for 2020 because of COVID-19, concert promoter C3 Presents confirmed in a press release Wednesday. This news, while unfortunate, is expected as the pandemic has decimated the concert industry and led to the cancellations of SXSW, Coachella, Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo.
But the music scene of Austin tried to keep its pulse, with a Fourth of July celebration co-headlined by Dallas’ own Vanilla Ice.
The rapper, whose real name is Robert Van Winkle, was scheduled to play Austin’s Emerald Point Bar & Grill (because we all know the culture truly thrives at any place with “Bar & Grill” in its name) this Friday, just one night before fellow 1990s stalwarts Color Me Badd tie the ribbon on the venue’s Independence Day festivities.
While this twofer couldn't compete with the star power routinely offered by ACL (whose past headliners include Paul McCartney, Metallica, Guns N' Roses, Radiohead, Drake and Stevie Wonder), Emerald Point Bar & Grill promoter Mike Wade told the Austin Chronicle that 2,500 tickets were to be sold for the Independence Day Throwback Beach Party.
So, y’know, there is evidently a strong cohort of people who are willing to risk contracting an infectious disease if it means jamming out to “Ice, Ice Baby” and “I Want to Sex You Up.” If you ask us, the possibility of death is a small price to pay for the certainty of satiating our ‘90s nostalgia in the name of freedom. Oddly, it's also a sweet deal for anyone looking to avoid a Vanilla Ice concert.
Some people, surprisingly, didn't agree. The event was widely criticized for bringing together COVID-happy crowds.
On Thursday, however, it seems the singer was finally informed that there was a pandemic taking hold of the world. In a tweet, Van Winkle said the show would be postponed.
"Due to the increase in COVID-19 numbers in Austin we’re gonna move the concert to a better date," he wrote. "We were hoping for better Coronavirus numbers by July but Unfortunately the numbers have increased quite a bit so for the safety and health of everyone we’re going to stay home."
Poor Austin. SXSW, ACL and now Vanilla Ice. The pandemic is cruel ... ish.
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The tweet was accompanied by a video in which the singer said he "didn't know the numbers were so crazy in Austin," but that he "listened to fans."
Tickets for Friday’s show ranged from $25 to $300, and VIP tables were sold out because $300 is a small fee to pay in exchange for the unrivaled status that VIP table bottle service at a Vanilla Ice concert offers.
Fellow Dallas outfit Hip Hop Hooray was scheduled to open Friday’s show. You might assume based off the name that they’re a Naughty By Nature cover band, but a cursory search through the artist’s Facebook page finds they list NBN and Vanilla Ice as influences, along with Biz Markie, 2 Live Crew, Salt-N-Pepa, De La Soul and LL Cool J.
How sad is it that concertgoers won't get to hear a cover band jam out to the hits of yesteryear, right before waiting two hours for the headliner to get to the one hit he’s known for? But he just had to stop, collaborate and listen.