Country singer Chase Rice was lambasted on social media over the weekend after he ― and others ― posted video of a crowd at a Tennessee concert he held on Saturday.
The critics, including fellow artists in the country circuit, slammed the singer for amplifying crowds that clearly defied CDC guidelines about social distancing and wearing masks to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
Rice’s video of the concert’s audience, which was held at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, was posted to his Instagram Story with the caption: “We back.” The video made the rounds on social media and, after being widely criticized, was quietly deleted from Rice’s Story.
Chase Rice just played a concert to an enormous crowd of unmasked fans here in Tennessee. For once, I am at a loss for words. pic.twitter.com/wB47u1EaFd
— Lorie Liebig (@lorieliebig) June 28, 2020
The optics of the crowd were called, among other things, “irresponsible,” “mass murder” and “dumb” by observers on Twitter.
Fellow country star Kelsea Ballerini slammed Rice for holding the concert, calling him “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. @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
Representatives for Rice declined to comment to HuffPost.
The concert venue claims that there were precautions in place to protect concertgoers. Brian May, vice president of the Brushy Mountain Group which owns Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, told HuffPost in a statement on Monday that the venue “complied with all local requirements for the recent concert, and numerous precautions were taken.”
May said via email that the venue “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,” wrote May.
He added that while the venue was “unable to further enforce the physical distancing recommended on the signage,” it was “reevaluating” their upcoming concerts and “looking into future alternative scenarios that further protect the attendees, artists and their crews and our employees,” which may include postponements.
Tennessee is one of the many states currently experiencing a surge in cases of COVID-19 as the country begins to reopen following widespread stay-at-home orders. A report in The Tennessean over the weekend indicated that the state saw “the highest-ever count of new infections on Friday — 1,410.”
Health officials in the state reported 67 new hospitalizations, which the publication noted is the “the highest daily total since early May,” adding that “the 7-day average for hospitalizations is higher than ever.”
“At least 577 people have died from the virus in the state, including 10 reported Friday,” it reported.