Country music star Chase Rice is receiving tons of backlash this week over a viral video that shows him performing at what appears to be a packed concert in Tennessee despite the spike in coronavirus cases in the state.
Fox News reported that Rice took to Twitter over the weekend to post a video from his concert at the Tennessee’s Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary concert venue. The footage shows thousands of people crowding around the stage and singing along to his music, with very few of them wearing masks.
Backlash against Rice was swift, with his fellow country star Kelsea Ballerini taking to Twitter to accuse him of putting “thousands of people’s health at risk.”
“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,” she tweeted on Sunday.
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
Rice has yet to comment on the situation, but the Tennessee venue Brushy Mountain Group has fired back by claiming that despite how it looks in the video, they were complying with social distancing rules.
“All local requirements were abided by for the recent concert, and numerous precautions were taken,” VP of Brushy Mountain Group Brian May said in a statement to Fox News. “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.”
He went on to say that all attendees had their temperatures checked before entering the venue, which provided them with free hand sanitizer and bandanas. All vendors and staffers had to wear masks and gloves at all times during the event.
However, May also admitted that they were not able to enforce social distancing guidelines as well as they had hoped, so the venue plans to reevaluate how concerts will be done going forward.
“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,” he concluded. “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.”
Rice himself has made no secret of the fact that he does not agree with some of the measures that have been taken against COVID-19.
“I’m not throwing blame to any promoters or decision makers on this, they gotta protect themselves and the well being of people, so I get all sides of this deal,” he wrote on Instagram back in March. “I personally, choose not live scared, especially of something that I can’t really control.”
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If it were up to me I wouldn’t cancel one damn show, but it ain’t. Today a lot of tours and shows got canceled or moved. I’m not throwing blame to any promoters or decision makers on this, they gotta protect themselves and the well being of people, so I get all sides of this deal. I personally, choose not live scared, especially of something that I can’t really control, so 🖕🏼YOU Corona(not the beer, I still love you). And mostly THANK YOU to fans all across the world. This thing has made me realize that there is no music without y’all. If I’ve gotta break it down to just me and a guitar on the bed of a truck and play to whoever shows up I’ll do it, love y’all.
He released the song “Dear corona…” on Instagram a few days later, with the tune including the lyrics, “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.”