Last weekend, the Miami based music festival Rolling Loud took place— after being rescheduled twice due to COVID-19 concerns. The festival was the first incarnation of the event in two years, after the 2020 festival was cancelled. While the three-day event was initially supposed to take place back in May, it was again rescheduled to last weekend. While the COVID-19 situation in South Florida is a lot better than it was initially, the festival still raised plenty of concerns about safety protocols— particularly as the new Delta variant continues to rise.
The festival, which was headlined by the likes of A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott, Post Malone, and Bobby Shmurda, consistently attracts some of the most popular artists in the rap industry, and is one of the most highly anticipated festivals of the year. Fans were particularly excited to attend this year, after spending the past year in social isolation. The crowds, as usual, were massive, and over 80,000 people were in attendance when Travis Scott headlined the second night of the festival.
With crowds that size, it’s no wonder that the music festival attracted criticism. For many, it seemed as though the festival came just in time for the Delta variant to peak in South Florida and in the rest of the nation, as new daily cases in the United States jumped 57 percent from the previous week, according to The Washington Post. Critics were concerned about the lack of social distancing, particularly as our vaccinated numbers have begun to stagnate. As photos and videos from the weekend continue to emerge, the picture becomes increasingly bleak for critics. Photos depict a sea of people, many of which are not wearing masks, and all of which are sweating and bumping into each other. Indeed, Rolling Loud seems to have been COVID-19’s best friend this summer.
However, the organizers of the event have countered these critiques. They claim that guests have the option of either attending the festival after being vaccinated, or wearing a mask. “Fans will have the choice, whether they want to be vaccinated or mask,” Rolling Loud co-founder Tariq Cherif told the Herald. “That’s basically what we believe in. You got the choice and that’s it.” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also Tweeted a reminder to attendees, letting them know that a pop-up vaccination spot will be at the event.
However, critics still believe that the festival did not do enough to prevent the spread of COVID, and many do not seem thrilled about the ‘honor code system’ that Rolling Loud decided to use. Conversely, the music festival Lollapalooza—which is set to take place in Chicago next week— is requiring a negative Coronavirus test within 72 hours of entry, and those who are not vaccinated are required to wear a mask all weekend.
But even with these restrictions, experts are skeptical about how much these festivals can mitigate the spread of COVID, and all of which seem to be taking a massive gamble. Unfortunately though, Rolling Loud is the first of many music festivals that are scheduled to take place this summer— at least a dozen more. So for now, let’s just hope that Travis Scott’s set was worth it.