Sounding about as direct and ardent as he did blasting through two-minute punk-rock songs with Hüsker Dü in 7th Street Entry 40 years ago, former Minnesota music legend Bob Mould posted a video Monday night asking fans to wear masks and follow vaccine protocols during his upcoming tour dates, including his return to First Avenue on Sept. 25.
It's one of the sternest pleas yet by a well-knowing touring musician for extra precautions against COVID-19 at concerts amid the delta variant surge.
"I've been waiting 18 months to get back to work," Mould says at the start of the video, and then emphasizes near the end: "If any of us test positive, the tour is over and we've lost our livelihood again."
In between, he tells all ticketholders to plan on showing proof of vaccine or negative test results (per most clubs' policies) as well as wear a mask throughout each show except when drinking (per his own wishes): "I'm asking you to keep us and everyone else in the building as safe as possible. We really need you to keep your mask on while in the building."
"I know there are some of you that have various hesitancies," Mould continues, citing both those against getting vaccinated as well as those who are vaccinated but are still uneasy about being in the thick of a crowded club.
"It's OK to miss this show. It's OK to miss this tour. There will be more in the future. Maybe then circumstances will be different, more comfortable and in line with how you're thinking about everything. We'll miss you. But if you're having hesitancy on any level, I recommend you get a refund at point of purchase immediately."
The video dropped a few days ahead of Mould's return to the road with his longtime bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster. They kick things off in Boston on Thursday night and will work their way west.
All along the route, Mould notes, they and their crew will get tested every two days and follow the same protocols asked of fans at shows.
Mould and the band were due to hit the road in 2020 behind his election-year-tinged rager of an album, "Blue Hearts." They were also celebrating the release of his box sets "Distortion," released in various forms and spanning his entire post-Hüsker Dü career, starting with his late-'80s solo albums and Sugar releases of the early-'90s. That's a lot of ground to cover on one tour.
Foremost among last year's canceled dates was an unannounced First Ave gig in October to mark his 60th birthday and the club's 50th.
"I was going to have a fun few months here to tie it all together," Mould lamented in a Star Tribune interview last year. "Instead, I'm locked inside the house."
Still, the veteran road-hound struck a positive note at the end of Monday's video, reiterating that these upcoming shows can still be fun if everyone acts responsibly.
"The idea here is to bring a three-week punk-rock party across the U.S.," he said. "We can't wait to play again. It's been 18 months for me. I think it's going to be really special, but we need your cooperation. We're a community. We're in this together. We need to do the right things."
First Avenue already was one of the first music venues in the country to implement a vaccine or test-result requirement at every show among its family of venues. Individual artists have also been requiring masks at different shows, including Sunday's nearly sold-out Waxahatchee concert, during which attendees complied well with the mandate and still gave the performace a rave — if a tad muffled — response.
Tickets ($30) are still available to Mould's show in two weekends with buzzing Nova Scotia band Kestrels for openers. Refunds for those with "hesitancies" can be requested via First Ave's new ticket supplier AXS.com. All of First Ave's COVID policies are thoroughly spelled out at first-avenue.com.