Hey there: you’re an all-star super-spreader. Or you might be if you attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota earlier this month, where bands including Smash Mouth performed for socially undistanced thousands at a time over the course of 10 days, at an event attended by hundreds of thousands in total.
According to the Associated Press, 103 COVID-19 cases directly related to the rally have been reported by the health departments in eight states — South Dakota, Minnesota,Wisconsin, Nebraska, Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming and Washington.
The band has not had much to say about Sturgis or responded to media requests since performing at the rally. However, in an Instagram post four days ago, the group did refer to the backlash, posting a photo of a smashed CD atop an angry letter, which left only selected words visible, like “kills,” “selfish” and “motherf—ers.” The group’s caption for the photo: “Fan mail.”
Smash Mouth came to be the public face of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, in a way that wasn’t necessarily to the band’s liking, just by virtue of being perhaps the most mainstream of the many acts to play the event — but also by virtue of having had singer Steve Harwell captured on video saying, “F–k that COVID s–t!”
Commenters have glommed on to other Smash Mouth Instagram posts to let their feelings be known. Prior to the photo of the smashed CD they got in the mail, Smash Mouth put up a photo of a sign that indicated their support for liberal causes or beliefs, with phrases including “We believe Black lives matter… women’s rights are human rights… science is real.”
Some respondents weren’t having it. “‘Science is real.’ Epidemiology is a science too,” wrote one user. “I’m proud of this band for standing up for imperative social causes, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still be disappointed about Sturgis.” Wrote another: “Yeah but you had a concert without any social distancing and said f–k COVID, so do you really believe that science is real.”
— Connor Matteson (@mattesontv) August 10, 2020
Among the other acts that played Sturgis, but may have felt less heat over it: Quiet Riot, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Buckcherry, Trapt, Molly Hatchet, Night Ranger, Colt Ford, Lit, Reverend Horton Heat, Jackyl, 38 Special and Drowning Pool. A ZZ Top tribute band called ZZ3 played after ZZ Top itself dropped out. Also canceling prior to the rally were Willie Nelson and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Proponents of the gathering may contend that just over a hundred cases officially logged by state health departments so far as tied to the Sturgis rally is a fairly small amount for a gathering that South Dakota’s transportation department says drew 460,000 vehicles. But some experts say the spread from the August 7-16 rally has just begun to be felt, and tracked.
“It’s very likely that we will see more transmission,” said Kris Ehresmann, the infectious disease director for the Minnesota Department of Health, in a call with reporters. An official with the department told CBS News that 35 cases had been reported in Minnesota alone among residents who had traveled to Sturgis.