Hamptons concert with Goldman CEO, Chainsmokers faces probe

Goldman Sachs chief David Solomon appears on stage as DJ D-Sol at the first Safe & Sound drive-in concert in Southampton, N.Y., on July 25, 2020. Bloomberg photo by Amanda Gordon.

New York health authorities will investigate a Hamptons charity concert opened by Goldman Sachs chief David Solomon and headlined by the Chainsmokers after footage showed crowds of partiers, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

People were ready to party on Saturday night in the Hamptons, and Solomon, fresh off a great quarter and a multibillion-dollar fine to settle criminal charges in Malaysia, was one of them.

So were parking, security, tech and sound crews, many of whom hadn’t worked for months.

They came together for an epic event in any Hamptons season, more so in the time of Covid-19: the first Safe & Sound drive-in concert. A couple of thousand people — including the Winklevoss twins — were in attendance, dancing on the grass and the tops of their cars to the Chainsmokers.

The event was held on a field with attendees expected to enjoy the music by their cars and in designated spots. About 2,000 people turned up for the performance with an opening set by Goldman Sachs’s CEO, who moonlights as DJ D-Sol, and the Chainsmokers as the main act.

Valets dressed in white polos and khakis found ways to be helpful, like stopping the Surf Lodge vehicle from backing into some beach chairs as its driver tried to maneuver into a spot. Others in golf carts dropped off bags of ice so guests could keep their drinks cold.

Charlie McArdle, owner of PeoplePool Valet Service, said the concert was the first big event of the season.

“The event business is done,” said McArdle, who usually staffs about 300 of them a year. He offers $20 an hour to a pool of about 200 college students who count on the income to help pay for school. He had 40 people working Saturday.

Of course, events can only work during a pandemic if people act and feel safe.

Cuomo said he was appalled by “egregious social distancing violations” seen in videos of the event in Southampton. “We have no tolerance for the illegal & reckless endangerment of public health,” Cuomo said, noting the Department of Health will lead the inquiry.

Videos shared by revelers appeared to show groups gathering near the stage. Some concert-goers without masks congregated outside cars to party with friends. Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman was also one of the performers at the event, and Southampton Village Mayor Jesse Warren was emcee.

“The criticism based on a two-second video does not accurately depict the entire event,” a representative for the organizers said in a statement. “The Safe & Sound drive-in concert fundraiser followed the guidelines created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and made best efforts to ensure New York’s social-distancing guidelines were properly maintained throughout the event.”

But Schneiderman, the town supervisor, said it seemed to him the organizers deviated from the permit by letting people congregate in some areas and that shouldn’t have been allowed. “I am upset,” he said. “It puts me in an awkward situation.”

A spokesman for Goldman Sachs declined to comment on Solomon’s behalf.

New York was once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. before it eased there and spread to other regions. Officials have been cautiously reopening the state.

The organizers, In the Know Experiences and Invisible Noise, had pledged to abide by local and state health standards. They set up temperature checks, arranged for crews to clean portable toilets every 10 minutes and made frequent announcements about wearing masks when moving around the venue.

About 500 cars were parked in spots that cost as much as $25,000, with the top tier including an air-conditioned RV and private bathroom. Masks were encouraged, but not required, next to vehicles, according to an email sent to ticketholders.

The rare chance to party drew socialites, financial professionals and other notables, such as the Winklevoss twins. Some danced on the grass and the tops of vehicles.

“Standing up there and watching the sunset, looking out over this huge field of cars and people on their cars, it was absolutely beautiful,” Solomon said Monday in an interview before Cuomo’s announcement. “The group that put this together did an incredible job in a difficult environment. If we work together and are thoughtful, we can do things that feel more normal and allow us to live with this virus safely.”

Seth Kaplan, co-founder of In the Know Experiences, had said it was a trial run for concerts his firm will produce in Miami and other locales. Any profits from the Hamptons event will be donated to No Kid Hungry, Southampton Fresh Air Home and Children’s Medical Fund of New York.



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