Rapper Vanilla Ice is getting heat for planning to take the stage at an Austin, Texas, concert scheduled for Friday night—as the state’s daily confirmed coronavirus infections continue to surge—and becomes the latest artist to draw criticism for resuming performances, with fans who are unlikely to socially distance or wear masks.


Ice will perform at the Emerald Point Bar & Grill, which is classified as a restaurant and therefore exempt from Gov. Greg Abbott’s June 26 order to shut down bars (but the order does limit restaurants to 50% capacity).

A promoter for the concert told the Austin Chronicle that the show’s capacity will be 2,500, and an EventBrite listing is selling tickets for from $25 to $200.

Ice was trending on Twitter Thursday morning as users warned that anyone who attends the show could get infected with coronavirus.

On Monday, Ice posted a video on Instagram of him performing in front of a massive crowd, writing in the caption: “I can’t wait to get back to this,” adding that the 1990s (the decade in which he achieved mainstream fame) “were the best,” and “We didn’t have coronavirus.”

Ice’s return to the stage follows two Saturday night concerts by country stars Chris Janson and Chase Rice, who performed in front of packed crowds in Idaho and Tennessee.

Janson and Rice were roundly criticized after posting photos showing attendees shoulder-to-shoulder and appearing to not be wearing masks, with fellow country star Kelsea Ballerini slamming Rice as “selfish.”

News peg

More details emerged following Janson and Rice’s Saturday shows. An organizer for Janson’s show told Billboard that “we did everything we were asked to do” in terms of safety precautions, but added that the crowd rushed the stage once Janson’s set began. Organizers for Rice’s show also said safety precautions were taken. In a video posted to his Instagram Monday, Rice asked fans to “please go by the rules” and “your safety is a huge, huge priority.”

Big number

Two weeks. That’s how many days Texas has posted daily new records of coronavirus cases as of June 26, forcing Abbott to pause the state’s reopening plans.

Key background

Ice, whose given name is Robert Van Winkle, rose to prominence in the 1990s for his rapping and break dancing skills. He’s most well-known for the 1990 single “Ice Ice Baby,” which has the distinction of being the first rap single to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and became an international hit. The song also became the subject of controversy for appearing to sample the iconic bass line from Queen and David Bowie’s 1981 collaboration “Under Pressure,” who did not receive songwriting credit or royalties. Bowie and Queen threatened to sue Ice for copyright infringement, who claimed the bass line in “Ice Ice Baby” added an extra beat between notes, making his a distinct, separate melody. They settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, with Bowie and all of Queen’s members receiving songwriting credits. 


In addition to his rapping and TV hosting career, Ice has competed as a Motocross and jet ski racer.

Further reading

In Austin, Where Nearly All Concerts are Canceled, Vanilla Ice Set to Perform Friday (Austin Chronicle)

Country stars Chase Rice, Chris Janson spark outrage with videos of packed concerts (NBC News)

Songs on Trial: 12 Landmark Music Copyright Cases (Rolling Stone)

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