Regalado considered not going to the Pepsi Center, but when she saw Live Nation hadn't canceled the show, she packed up her hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes and took the risk. "I was like, 'OK, let's do it, one last hurrah before we go into isolation,'" she says. "Everyone was looking forward to seeing Post Malone for so long that they weren't going to let the whole madness of the coronavirus stop them." Bray, a 16-year-old from Texas who wouldn't give her last name, received tickets from her grandmother for Christmas last year and took two flights from Amarillo with her mother to get to Denver: "We were all a little on edge standing in line, but once we made it inside and the concert started, we all kind of forgot about everything."
Malone's tour, promoted by Live Nation, was part of the cancellations announced Thursday, but his Denver show remained on the schedule. A Denver spokesperson said before the concert that the decision was "at the direction of the Pepsi Center and the concert promoter." Reps for Live Nation, the Pepsi Center and Malone did not respond to requests for comment. On Friday (March 13) Governor Jared Polis restricted gatherings to a 250 people or fewer.
In continuing to perform, Malone became a social-media lightning rod for those trying to "flatten the curve" of exponentially increasing global coronavirus cases. "A horribly irresponsible decision," someone posted on Twitter. "So much for social distancing," said another.
Eilish's show drew similarly polarized reactions, from a fan who posted "fuck coronavirus . . . I'm here for a good time not a long time" to critics who unsuccessfully begged her to cancel or postpone.
"I don't blame the concertgoers," says Andrew Noymer, a University of California Irvine public-health professor. "Most of the criticism goes to the organizers -- I know it's still early days, but if you think you're smarter than the NBA and the NCAA and your peers at Coachella and South by Southwest, I'd really like to know where you get that attitude from." Nataria Joseph, a Pepperdine University clinical-health psychologist and professor, suggests rebellious fans may have attended due to cognitive dissonance, the same phenomenon in which smokers "dig their heels in and become stronger in that belief," despite health risks to themselves or others.
Before attending the show, software consultant Corianton Johnson checked the number of coronavirus cases in Colorado and decided the likelihood of spreading the illness was relatively low. "I definitely had some pauses. I tend to avoid large groups in general for health and safety," says the Denver 29-year-old, who attended the show with his wife after winning tickets in a work contest. "Everywhere we went, they were talking about coronavirus. When Tyla [Yahweh, a rapper and opening act] said this was going to be the last concert of the tour, the crowd went nuts.”
He adds, “It was a night that people were trying to get away and forget about it."