That St. Petersburg, Florida concert where the price of admission depends on your vaxx status is moving across the Bay to the Skatepark of Tampa (SPoT).
Creative Loafing Tampa Bay first reported that Wyoming pop-punk band Teenage Bottlerocket was set to play the VFW Post 39 on June 26 where promoter Paul Williams set ticket prices at $18 for those with proof of vaccination and $999.99 for those who aren't. At the time, Williams said he was bringing the show to the venue because he wanted to help the Southeast’s oldest VFW Post, which has been struggling to make it through the pandemic. He also wanted to see his friends again in the safest of settings.
“We care about not hurting each other or others. The only thing we like as much, if not better, than going to a show with our friends is a cause,” Williams explained last month.
But in recent weeks, press from across the country latched onto Williams’ concert, and that meant pressure from anti-vaxxers and those who make online threats against those whose views don’t align with theirs. Under that pressure, Williams told CL that the VFW has decided not to host the show. He declined to provide additional details regarding the VFW’s decision to pull out of the show, but said in a statement that his Leadfoot Promotions company and the band support the VFW members’ choice.
“We wish them the best. To draw away any controversy around the VFW, Leadfoot Promotions will no longer be doing shows there,” Williams wrote, adding that Leadfoot’s Aug. 31 show with Lawrence Arms bassist Brendan Kelly is moving to The Bricks.
No one picked up at the phone number listed for the VFW at 2599 Central Ave. N, and a voicemail for post commander Janice Pettit (aka JP) has yet to be returned. The show was initially announced on the same day Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a vaccine passport ban, and Pettit told Patch that Williams pitched the show before DeSantis’ signing, but she added that "The VFW is not allowed to go above an executive order… And the promoter can't either. It's not happening at our VFW." But as Washington Post pointed out, DeSantis’ new law backed by fines doesn’t take effect until July.
Still, what’s done is done, so the band will now play at SPoT—located at 4215 E Columbus Ave.—where many memorable punk shows have gone down (although nothing may ever top the mayhem at a 2001 Tampa Am after party with Unholy Alliance). And with the new venue comes an earlier door time (6 p.m., two hours before the first band, just in case anyone wants to skate), bag check (so you can stow merch and/or your skateboard while the show happens) and a community effort to help folks with rides across the Bay (details on the Facebook event page). Vegan vendors Nah Dogs and Mince’s World-Famous Seitan will also be on hand.
As far as security goes, Williams’ added that “anyone looking to perform some anti-vaccine interpretive dance or other such nonsense either in the ticket line, check-in, or inside the venue can expect a swift and forceful ejection by security.”
And at the end of day, Teenage Bottlerocket seems ready to play for its fans.
“I do know that [Williams is] a guy who is doing his best to protect the concertgoers in his city, Miguel Chen, bassist and tour manager for the band, told CNN. “I also know that there's 250 people who bought tickets to the show understanding that those are the stipulations. I think they're all going to very happily show their vaccination records so that they can come party and have a good time and not have to worry.”
See a list of Tampa “Safe & Sound” live music venues here.
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