Country Stars Under Fire for Holding Concerts to Thousands Amid Coronavirus Case Spike

MANHATTAN, KS - JUNE 25: Singer/Songwriter Chase Rice performs at Kicker Country Stampede Manhattan, Kansas - Day 3 on June 25, 2016 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Kicker Country Stampede)
Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Kicker Country Stampede

Country singers Chase Rice and Chris Janson are facing a backlash after holding a packed concert to a reported thousands in Tennessee over the weekend, where photos and videos show revelers standing shoulder to shoulder without face masks.

Chase Rice posted footage from the stage of his concert in Tennessee under the caption: “We back.” The video clips were available throughout Sunday on his Instagram story, despite critical reaction across social media.

Watch below: 

Janson, meanwhile, similarly posted footage of a smaller but equally packed-out event in Idaho but later deleted the videos from both his Twitter and Instagram following a number of angry responses.

One of Rice’s critics was fellow country star Kelsea Ballerini, who described the decision to hold a concert in such circumstances as selfish.

“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,” Ballerini wrote. “@ChaseRiceMusic, we all want (and need) to tour. We just care about our fans and their families enough to wait.”

In a statement provided to Variety, Brian May, the VP of the Brushy Mountain Group that hosted Rice’s concert, insisted that “all local requirements were abided by 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 in attendance Saturday night, providing ample space in the outdoor lawn area for fans to spread out to their own comfort level,” May said.

May continued:

All guests were given temperature checks prior to entering the venue and free hand sanitizer was provided to everyone at entry. All vendors and staff were advised to wear masks and gloves when interacting with guests, and bandanas were available for purchase on-site.

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.

Rice has previously made public his opposition to lockdown rules imposed in response to the pandemic. “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 sad back in March. “I personally choose not [to] live scared, especially of something that I can’t really control.”

With his promoters insisting that the event was fully compliant with the rules, Rice has more events schelduled over the next few weeks, including at least two indoor concerts in Kentucky and Virginia.

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