Country star Chase Rice has been widely criticized for his concert in Petros, TN on Saturday where he played to crowd of thousands, most of whom were not wearing masks or social distancing. He had posted an instagram story from the stage, showing the crowd of shoulder-to-shoulder fans, writing "We back," but the show drew almost instant criticism on Twitter, including from fellow country musicians.
"Everybody had a blast," Rice said in an Instagram video post on Monday. "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 there's a lot of varying opinions on COVID-19, how it works with live music crowds...my biggest thing is y'all...you guys are everything to me so your safety is a huge priority." After talking about his next show -- a drive-in concert in Ashland, KY -- he said "Thank you for understanding, please go by the rules, please go by the laws." Watch Rice's video below.
Among those who criticized Rice were country singer Kelsea Ballerini who wrote, "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."
Jason Isbell tweeted, "Boy y’all really throwing the term “country star” around today. It’s like the adult film industry, they aren’t all stars.' Hell, some are so broke they’ve decided to do shows this weekend regardless of what might happen to their non-isolated, maskless audience!"
The TN concert was held at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, which is no longer a prison facility and now holds concerts and is an events center. Brushy Mountain Group VP Brian May said in a statement:
Brushy Mountain complied with all local requirements for the recent concert, and numerous precautions were taken. 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 of 3+ acres for fans to spread out to their own comfort level. All guests and employees were given temperature checks prior to entering the venue and free hand sanitizer was provided to everyone at entry.
All vendors and staff were given masks and gloves to wear when interacting with guests, and bandanas were available for purchase on-site. Numerous signs posted across the property informed attendees of recommended social distancing guidelines. We were unable to further enforce the physical distancing recommended on the signage.
May also wrote "We 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." Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary has canceled its upcoming Kip Moore concert on August 1, but a July 18 show with Sawyer Brown is currently still scheduled.