INGLEWOOD (CBSLA/AP) — The largest concert gathering in Southern California since the start of the pandemic took place Sunday when SoFi Stadium in Inglewood hosted Global Citizen’s “Vax LIVE: The Concert To Reunite The World” charity concert.
Guests react during Vax LIVE charity concert at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on May 2, 2021.(Getty Images)
Providing a glimpse of what life was like pre-pandemic, nearly 47,000 fully-vaccinated people flooded into SoFi Stadium for the charity concert aimed at boosting confidence in COVID-19 vaccines and raising funds for vaccination efforts worldwide.
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The free concert featured performances from Jennifer Lopez, the Foo Fighters, Eddie Vedder, J Balvin and H.E.R.
Ben Affleck, Chrissy Teigen, Jimmy Kimmel, Sean Penn and David Letterman appeared as special guest speakers.
“It seemed a little weird,” concert-goer Gage Gadoy told CBSLA. “Like, it doesn’t seem normal to have this big of a crowd anymore. But it’s nice.”
President Joe Biden spoke about the COVID-19 vaccination being safe, Prince Harry urged for the vaccine distribution everywhere and Jennifer Lopez embraced her fully-vaccinated mother on stage.
Jennifer Lopez performs onstage with her mother Guadalupe Rodriguez during the taping of the “Vax Live” fundraising concert at SoFi Stadium on May 2, 2021. (Getty Images)
Attendance was restricted to people who are fully vaccinated, in other words, they must have received their final dose of COVID-19 vaccine no later than April 18. Mask-wearing was required inside the stadium, with the exception of the performers while they were on stage. Tickets were provided to fully vaccinated front-line healthcare workers and essential workers by the relief organization Global Citizen, the sponsor of the event, and its “partner organizations.”
Media and production staff needed to show a negative COVID test before entering the stadium.
“The vaccines are safe. I promise you. They work,” said Biden, who was accompanied in a video message with first lady Jill Biden. Both appeared as part of the “We Can Do This” initiative to increase confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.
Guests attend Vax LIVE charity concert at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on May 2, 2021. (Getty Images)
“We’re working with leaders around the world to share more vaccines and boost production to make sure every country has the vaccines they need,” the president continued. “If we get this done, we won’t have to miss another moment.”
With Los Angeles County in the orange tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, attendance at outdoor events is generally limited to 33% of capacity. However, since organizers were requiring all attendees to show proof of vaccination, the guidelines allowed for up to 67% of capacity.
SoFi stadium has a base capacity of roughly 70,000, although it is expandable to more than 100,000 for major events like the Super Bowl, which will be played at the stadium next year. Based on the 70,000 capacity, the concert allowed for nearly 47,000 people.
Selena Gomez hosted the concert, which got underway at 6 p.m. The concert was taped for a May 8 worldwide fundraising broadcast, airing on ABC, CBS, Fox, YouTube, and on iHeartMedia radio stations, and internationally on various other broadcast platforms.
The broadcast will encourage donations, with the goal of ensuring vaccinations for 27 million health-care workers globally, including in the poorest countries of the world. Organizers will also advocate for “equitable distribution” of vaccines.
French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Croatia Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic also appeared, along with CBS This Morning’s Gayle King, South African actress Nomzamo Mbatha and actress Olivia Munn.
The event was part of a growing chorus seeking wider, more equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
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Global Citizen said $53.8 million in philanthropic and corporate commitments helped procure nearly 10.3 million doses, exceeding the goal for the Vax Live campaign.
Prince Harry said providing vaccines across the globe is imperative, particularly those in the poorest countries. He said that he is standing solidarity with India, who is experiencing a “devastating” second wave of the virus.
“The vaccine must be distributed to everyone everywhere,” the Duke of Sussex said. He along with his wife Meghan are leading an effort to raise money for the vaccine-sharing program COVAX, which hopes to produce $19 billion to pay for the vaccines for medical workers.
“We cannot rest or truly recover until there is fair distribution to every corner of the world,” he said. “The virus does not respect borders and access to the vaccine cannot be determined by geography.”
Each musical performance made things seem almost like normal with attendees standing at their seats side-by-side while others danced with their masks on. Some hugged each other with enthusiasm.
H.E.R. performed on a small stage outside the stadium with a group of people playing their guitars.
Before Lopez’s performance, she told the audience that she was unable to spend Christmas with her mother. The singer went on to invite her fully-vaccinated mom on stage, then the two sang their rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
“When I was thinking about what song to sing tonight, I remembered the song she used to sing to me as a baby,” said Lopez, who later performed her 2016 hit single “Ain’t Your Mama.”
Eddie Vedder said the concert was the first “taste of the life we’ve all been missing” for more than a year.
“This is a feeling we have not had in some time,” he said. “There’s a microphone, a crowd. It feels good.”
Foo Fighters rocked on with AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson during a performance of the rock anthem “Back In Black.”
“We ain’t out the woods yet. But let me tell you, I’m a firm believer and idea that music should be shared with people,” Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl said. “Let’s work as hard as we can to make sure we can do this every night.”
Hugh Evans, founder and CEO of Global Citizen, said he wants to keep the momentum going.
“What were trying to highlight is the obvious that we should be fighting for equity,” he said. “It’s something that shouldn’t require any arithmetic. It is absolutely bleeding obvious.”
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