Unconfirmed news leaked on Wednesday that Harry Styles was slated to headline the Planet Pepsi Zero Sugar® party at the Meridian in Miami on January 31, two days ahead of Super Bowl LIV. Without much fanfare, the tickets were quietly made available on Ticketmaster at 4 PM EST the following evening.
Harry’s verified secondary Twitter account, @HSHQ, finally tweeted confirmation around 7 PM EST that same day.
— HSHQ (@HSHQ) January 17, 2020
The tickets, all general admission with an 18+ age limit, are $250 each before fees. This is an annual pre-Super Bowl event for Pepsi, a major sponsor of the sporting event, who’s celebrating their redesigned matte black can and black tab for the Zero Sugar® product. According to the press release, “Planet Pepsi Zero Sugar® will be built at Meridian at Island Gardens on Watson Island, transforming the 65,000 square foot custom-built destination into a bold, alternate reality blanketed in neon lights, LED walls, mirrors with projection mapping and more.” The venue and party capacity was not made clear.
Harry will join Mark Ronson, internationally renowned DJ and Academy-Award-winning, seven-time-Grammy-Award-winning and Golden Globe-winning artist and producer.
Soon after it was confirmed that the rumors were true and Harry would indeed be performing at this show, fans began tweeting the hashtag #HarryBackOut. They were surprised to learn that Harry would associate himself with the NFL, an organization that’s come under fire in the last few years for racism and the outright banishing of quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling or sitting during the National Anthem.
With #HarryBackOut, Harry fans in conjunction with Colin Kaepernick fans urged Harry to donate any proceeds from the show to a Black Lives Matter charity — or reconsider the performance altogether. Harry performed many of his 89 tour dates in 2017-2018 with two Black Lives Matter stickers on his guitar. This lead to an overall feeling of inclusiveness during his shows, prompting concertgoers to bring their own Black Lives Matter signage and rainbow flags.
Harry Styles’ guitar. That’s it. That’s the tweet. pic.twitter.com/iKQcUJOp9X
— . (@parismemon) August 9, 2018
“Harry, this sticker isn’t doing enough. Say something. Do something,” one fan tweeted in the aftermath of the Pepsi performance announcement.
Last year, Rihanna declined the invitation to be the Super Bowl half-time show performer in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick (Maroon 5 took her place). According to Time, Cardi B similarly declined to be a part of the half-time show and Amy Schumer refused to be a in Super Bowl commercial.
On one hand, the Pepsi party isn’t necessarily tied to the NFL. It takes place two days before the big game and doesn’t carry any NFL or Super Bowl branding. On the other hand, of course, the party is obviously during Super Bowl weekend as a lead-up to the event in the same city, and it’s difficult to separate the two.
Harry has never been particularly vocal about how or why he supports movements like Black Lives Matter, aside from his guitar stickers, and has been quoted in interviews as still searching for a cause to fully get behind. However, knowing his fanbase’s passion and seeing their response on social media, does he risk losing support over this decision?
Is it worth the risk to play the show and hope it all blows over quickly, or face the inevitable, Rihanna-esque media-storm that would kick up should he decide to pull out? Is his lack of self-promotion regarding this show a sign of him grappling with the decision, or just his usually low level of social media use?
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.