The Mr. Roboto Project has taken a “bold” move to end its mask mandate nearly four years after the release of COVID-19 vaccines and one year after the official end of the COVID-19 emergency. In a post on Instagram, the music venue stated, “we regretfully announce that we must lift our masking requirement.” The decision comes as bands and promoters struggled to sell tickets at a mask-only venue.

Notably, Roboto is one of the last music venues in America to require masks. Their board of directors claims to have maintained the mask policy for so long to protect public safety. Over the past year, while singers performed without masks, audience members adhered to the mandate, albeit with varying degrees of compliance. Many concert goers are seen on social media with bad mask-etiquette, like leaving their noses uncovered. Instead of a uniform policy, the Mr. Roboto Project now allows artists and promoters to decide if their shows will be mask-required.

Their recent statement is inconsistent with their actions. The venue is small, cramped, and suffers from poor ventilation. Touring bands often carry illnesses from town to town, with veterans relying on Emergen-C and Pedialyte to power through weeks on the road. The irony is that Roboto has become what they hate most: a type of morality-police.

The Mr. Roboto Project is a DIY music venue and cooperative located in Garfield, founded in 1998. It is one of the only all-ages venues in Pittsburgh. Last month, Bunker Projects, the second-floor tenant, raised over $50,000 to purchase the building from the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation. Both entities will remain in the building, with Roboto continuing to contribute rent.

Currently, Roboto and Don’t Let the Scene Go Down on Me! (DLTSGDOM) have 16 shows scheduled for June, with only three requiring masks. During these events, masks will be distributed freely at the door.

Foo, editor of The Pittsburgh Reporter, guides our newsrooms and meets neighbors. He shares heartfelt stories often overlooked.