For months, people all over the United States have been self-isolated in their homes to help slow the curve of the coronavirus. The health crisis led many artists to postpone their 2020 tours in order to put concertgoers' health and safety first, a decision fans ultimately respected. However, on Saturday, June 27, country singer Chase Rice decided to go through with his concert in Tennessee. While enormous crowds of fans showed up to have a good time, Rice received a lot of backlash for putting people at risk. Kelsea Ballerini called out Chase Rice for holding a concert with no social distancing, and her points were extremely valid.
Rice performed at the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary for an estimated 1,000 audience members — most of whom did not wear masks or practice social distancing during their time at the concert based on video footage from the event. The concert took place just one day after the highest single-day increase of coronavirus cases in Tennessee on Friday, June 26.
After video of the packed concert made rounds on social media and TMZ, Ballerini took to Twitter to share her thoughts, criticizing Rice for not taking safety measures.
"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," she wrote, before tagging Rice in the post. "@ChaseRiceMusic, We all want (and need) to tour. We just care about our fans and their families enough to wait."
Rice did not respond to Ballerini's tweet.
Other Twitter users shared similar thoughts as Ballerini. "Country singer chase rice just proved all he cares about is the money and doesn’t care about the health and welfare of his fan having a concert in the middle of a pandemic," one wrote. "How irresponsible can one person be."
The Brushy Mountain Group released a statement to TMZ describing the safety precautions the venue took to prepare for the concert.
"All local requirements were abided by for the recent concert, and numerous precautions were taken," the statement read. "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 in attendance Saturday night providing ample space in the outdoor lawn area for fans to spread out to their own comfort level."
The statement explained that "all guests were given temperature checks prior to entering the venue and free hand sanitizer was provided to everyone at entry" and "all vendors and staff were advised to wear masks and gloves when interacting with guests, and bandanas were available for purchase on-site."
According to TMZ, the venue is looking into pursuing a drive-in style arrangement for future concerts, or postponing them altogether.
On June 29, Rice took to Instagram with video message responding to the criticism. "I took a video of the concert, 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," he began.
"I understand that there are a lot of varying opinions, a lot of opinions on COVID-19, how it works with live music crowds and what all that looks like," Chase said in the clip. "My biggest thing is y'all. Y'all are why I get to write songs. Y'all are why I get to tour the country, why I get to do live shows and sing 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."
He then explained his next concert would be a "drive-in" show, and while he said fans can get out of their vehicles, they should stay in their own space.
The country singer ended the video saying, "Please go by the rules. Please go by the laws on this Friday show coming up and the shows moving forward, so we can get to regular shows soon enough."
Clearly, the show will go on for Rice, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
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