Country singer Chase Rice is receiving backlash on social media after hosting a packed concert on Saturday night as Corona Virus cases continue to rise.
The heat started after Rice posted a video on Instagram captioned “We back” of his thousands of concertgoers packed outdoors rocking out, most of whom appeared to not be wearing face masks, packed into Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, a music venue about three hours east of Nashville in Petros. Critics on social media immediately pointed out the lack of masks and social distancing and some suggested he had a disregard for public health.
Fellow country singer Kelsea Ballerini, was among those calling Rice out for hosting a concert during the Corona Virus pandemic. “Imagine being selfish enough to put thousands of people’s health at risk, not to mention the potential ripple effect, and play a NORMAL country concert right now @ChaseRiceMusic, We all want (and need) to tour. We just care about our fans and their families enough to wait.” Ballerini tweeted.
Imagine being selfish enough to put thousands of people’s health at risk, not to mention the potential ripple effect, and play a NORMAL country concert right now. @ChaseRiceMusic, We all want (and need) to tour. We just care about our fans and their families enough to wait. 🤷🏼♀️ https://t.co/eJaLnGu28k
— Kelsea Ballerini (@KelseaBallerini) June 28, 2020
Another country music artist, 37-year-old Mickey Guyton, also took to Twitter in response to Rice’s concert, “This is happening in Tennessee where cases are spiking ya’ll. Jesus help us.”
This is happening in Tennessee where cases are spiking y’all. Jesus help us. https://t.co/f5i34rz4gW
— Mickey Guyton (@MickeyGuyton) June 28, 2020
On Monday Rice took to Instagram to address the concerns.
“Everybody had a blast, but then, once I posted the video, a lot of people seeing that online had a big problem with how the show looked, how the show went down. I understand that there are a lot of varying opinions, a lot of different opinions on COVID-19, how it works with live music, crowds and what all that looks like,” he said. “My biggest thing is y’all. Y’all are why I get to write songs, why I get to tour the country, why I get to do live shows, sings these songs to you guys and you guys sing them back. You guys are everything to me, so your safety is a huge, huge priority.”
Rice continued, “So, moving forward, I have a show in Ashland, Kentucky on Friday and it’s a drive-in show,” he said. “Take your trucks, take your cars, you have your own space, you can get out of your cars, you can get out of your trucks and party with me. Please do, sing the songs, but stay in your own space, stay with the people you came with. The safer we are now, the quicker we get to actual normal live shows, which I know we all want…Thank you guys for understanding, please go by the rules, please go by the laws on this Friday’s show coming up and the show’s moving forward so we can get to regular shows soon enough” he concluded.
The company that owns the Tennessee venue where Rice performed stated that despite appearances, it was complying with local requirements on social distancing. “All local requirements were abided by for the recent concert, and numerous precautions were taken,” Vice President of Brushy Mountain Group Brian May said in a statement. “We drastically reduced our maximum venue capacity of 10,000 to 4,000 maximum capacity (lower than the state’s advisement of 50%) with less than 1,000 (954 tickets sold with 809 tickets scanned) in attendance Saturday night providing ample space in the outdoor lawn area for fans to spread out to their own comfort level.”
The company also added that all guests were given temperature checks prior to entering the venue, which provided free hand sanitizer and offered bandanas for purchase on-site. All vendors and staff were advised to wear masks and gloves when interacting with guests. May did acknowledge that the venue wasn’t able to enforce a lot of the social distancing guidelines as it had hoped, “We were unable to further enforce the physical distancing recommended in the signage posted across the property and are looking into future alternative scenarios that further protect the attendees, artists and their crews and our employees. We are reevaluating the series from the top to bottom — from implementing further safety measures, to adding stanchions, to converting the space to drive-in style concerts, to postponing shows.” May concluded.
In March, Rice sang and posted a video on social media of a song titled, “Dear Corona.”
“Dear corona, you don’t know the heart of a country fan / You don’t know that we don’t give a damn …So you can reschedule Stagecoach / But you gotta understand / That you don’t know the heart of a country fan.”