In Austin, Where Nearly All Concerts are Canceled, Vanilla Ice Set to Perform

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Relive the Nineties, “When we didn’t have coronavirus!”

Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order last Friday closing all bars due to an expected surge in COVID-19 cases effectively put an end to those in-person concerts still taking place locally. One notable exception: Vanilla Ice at Emerald Point Bar & Grill on Friday.

A promotional flyer for Vanilla Ice’s July 3 performance at Emerald Point Bar & Grill.

The massive, multi-level marina structure on Lake Travis is categorized as a restaurant because at least 51% of its sales are food and, while Abbott’s order shut down bars, it only reduced restaurant capacity to 50%. A couple other local venues, Stubb’s and the Far Out Lounge, also remain open because of their restaurant designation. According to an interview with Emerald Point general manager Matt Norcia in May, the business maintains a load card for 4,000 people but can scale up to 5,000 when they open the beach area.

The Independence Day Throwback Beach Party promoter, Mike Wade, told Chronicle reporter Rachel Rascoe via text that the show’s capacity will be 2,500. Tickets, selling on Eventbrite, range $25-$300.

Vanilla Ice, aka Dallas native Rob Van Winkle, leans heavily on celebration of Nineties throwback culture in his promotion. An Instagram post from earlier this week showed footage from a packed concert, along with the caption: “I can’t wait to get back to this. The Nineties were the best. We didn’t have coronavirus, or cell phones, or computers.” He goes on to call the era, “The last of the great decades.”

Emerald Point made the news in May when local hard rock cover band LC Rock posted a photo of a dense crowd not wearing masks cheering for them at Emerald Point. At the time, Norcia said the image didn’t represent the actual distancing of the audience. He also noted that the restaurant passed consistent checks from the Fire Marshall as well as the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

On July 4, fellow Nineties hit-makers Color Me Badd – best known for their single “I Want to Sex You Up” – are scheduled to perform at Emerald Point.

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