Smash Mouth Spent 'Endless Hours' Making Sure Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Concert Was As Safe As Possible

Smash Mouth
Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth seen at KAABOO 2017 at the Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds, in San Diego.

In the midst of the still-raging COVID-19 pandemic that has infected over five million Americans and killed more than 162,000, Smash Mouth played a set at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally's Buffalo Chip concert series with the group saying they took all the safety precautions possible at the Sunday (Aug. 9) South Dakota event.

"The promoter did a fantastic job with their Covid protocol. They had a very strict social distancing and mask policy in place for all workers," band manager Robert Hayes tells Billboard in an email. "Everything backstage was sanitized, etc. The band has their own Covid addendum to their rider as well and the promoter and venue adhered to all of our requests. We spent endless hours advancing this event to make sure that it was pulled off as safely as possible and we are very happy with the outcome."

According to USA Today, the annual rough-and-ready motorcycle gathering that typically finds more than half a million bikers descending on the town of Sturgis has been scaled down to 250,000 expected guests this year, still making it one of the largest events to take place since the pandemic shut down the nation in early March. The paper reported that festival-goers will be "largely free of social distancing restrictions" that have become commonplace elsewhere in the nation.

Visitors coming into town for the rally will not face any quarantine requirements, even if they are from a COVID hotspot and while masks are encouraged, they are not required; Forbes reported that it seemed like "few people" were heeding the encouragement through the first two days of the festival.

The musical portion of the 10-day event kicked off with Molly Hatchet on Friday, and included The Guess Who on Saturday, Sunday gigs by Fozzy and Colt Ford and upcoming gigs from Night Ranger, Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, Buckcherry, Saliva, Drowning Pool, Lit, .38 Special, Quiet Riot, the Rev. Horton Heat and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.

Christina Steele, a spokesperson for the City of Sturgis, confirmed to Billboard that the state has "no mandates" about masks, even as the state health department "recommends" cloth face coverings in public settings. The promoter of Buffalo Chip told Billboard they will send a reply later today (Aug. 10). In a video posted in June, promoters said they were reducing capacity by 50% this year and promised signs recommending social distancing and encouraging mask-wearing, with hand sanitizer available throughout the park. In a tweet featuring footage the show, Smash Mouth singer Steve Harwell can be heard saying, "We're all here together tonight. F--k that COVID s--t!"

Hayes said Smash Mouth felt very good from the stage and there were "lots" of measures put in place to make sure everything was clean and there was a safe environment for the band and crew to work in. However, as the performers, he said they did not have any control over which protocols the attendees followed. "That said most all of them were on their motorcycles which eliminated a lot of physical contact between attendees and actually created a forced social distance," he said. "The Smash Mouth organization is taking this pandemic very seriously and has taken measures to keep our band, crew and fans as safe as possible during this time."

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