Despite the backlash pitted against him for playing a concert in front of nearly 1,000 people in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic over the weekend, Chase Rice — the up-and-coming American country singer — neither apologized or expressed regret for the event in an Instagram response to the controversy on Monday.
The concert in question took place on Saturday, June 27, at the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Petros, small-town Tennessee, and completely avoided all social distancing regulations set in place to help mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Rice, 34, shared a video of the crowd to his Instagram story on the night of the gig with the caption “We back,” before he was bombarded with criticism all across social media.
The highly contested concert took place only in the same week that health officials reported the biggest one-day jump in people testing positive for COVID-19, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Responding to the widespread disapproval via IGTV, Rice noted that his fans “had a blast” at the unsafe concert before claiming their safety “is a huge, huge priority,” for him.
“My biggest thing is y’all,” he said. “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 ‘em back.
“You guys are everything to me, so your safety is a huge, huge priority,” he added.
While the musician also acknowledged that many people “had a big problem” with the video he shared and “how the show looked,” he avoided any sort of apology to the fans left at risk.
“I understand there’s a lot of varying opinions and a lot of different opinions on COVID-19, how it works with live music crowds, and what all that looks like,” he added.
In an effort to prevent that in the future, Rice said his next show — in Ashland, Ky., on July 3 — would be a drive-in show.
He said: “You can take your trucks, take your cars, you have your own space. You can get out of your cars, you can get out of your trucks and party with me. Please do — sing the songs — but stay in your own space; stay with the people you came with.”
“The biggest thing for all of us is the safer we are now, the quicker that we get to get to actual normal live shows, which I know we all want,” Rice concluded ironically.
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
Despite the controversy, the owner of the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary told AP that the concert was approved by both city and county officials.
“We are reevaluating the series from the top to bottom following the inaugural show on June 27 — from implementing further safety measures to adding stanchions to converting the space to drive-in style concerts to postponing shows,” said co-owner Brian May (not the Queen guitarist).
May said the venue has a normal capacity of 10,000, but only 954 tickets were sold in advance and state guidelines allowed for 50 per cent capacity in an outdoor venue. Additionally, he said that they had asked all guests to wear masks and used signs which encouraged social distancing techniques.
In wake of the news, people have not only been criticizing Rice for the quality of his music and his decision to go through with the unsafe Tennessee concert, but his fans too for risking their lives simply to see him perform.
Even three-time Grammy Award nominee Kelsea Ballerini had something to say about the Ready Set Roll singer.
“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,” wrote Ballerini.
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
“@ChaseRiceMusic, We all want (and need) to tour. We just care about our fans and their families enough to wait,” the fellow American country singer concluded.
Here’s what some other angered Twitter users had to say:
there is not a universe in which anyone should have to die to listen to chase rice.
— Joy Oladokun (@joyoladokun) June 29, 2020
Me looking at Chase Rice right now. pic.twitter.com/4CL6PaqYqa
— Adam Parker (@A_Parker20) June 29, 2020
I wouldn’t go see Chase Rice if he was playing in the field across from my house during normal times much less during a pandemic.
— Reginald Spears (@ReginaldSpears) June 28, 2020
Chase Rice trying to figure out why he is trending on twitter this morning pic.twitter.com/uEGXJEzbNB
— Brandon Crouse (@BrandonCrouse5) June 29, 2020
People really risked their lives to see Chase Rice, out of all country artists pic.twitter.com/GxrJooh0Ip
— Bail E-A (@altforbail) June 29, 2020
When 4,000 people risk their lives to see Chase Rice in concert pic.twitter.com/gQUqkP9xcO
— Allison the Disney diva (@Daviesallison1A) June 29, 2020
“Can you imagine testing positive for COVID-19 because you went to a chase rice concert?” tweeted another user.
“Who even is Chase Rice!?” they added.
Unfortunately, Rice wasn’t the only country singer who avoided social distancing regulations over the weekend to perform in front of a crowd.
On Saturday night, 34-year-old Chris Janson played an outdoor music festival in Filer, Idaho, whose governor decided to keep the state at stage 4 of reopening due to a recent surge in infections, according to AP.
Festival organizers “assured all performers and concert attendees they were safe and following all local guidelines,” a label representative for Janson said in a statement.
Oh look, Chris Janson also doesn’t care about the health of his fans! I used to work for his management company but they laid me off in April so now I can come right out and say that this is reprehensible, yay! pic.twitter.com/5LFeTpeYRk
— whitney pastorek (@whittlz) June 28, 2020
A statement from the Highway 30 Music Fest said that they added more bleachers so fans could spread out and be socially distant, although a recap video on their social media account showed some crowding at the front of stages and hardly any people wearing masks.
“Chris was one of two dozen performers to fulfill a contractual obligation after being told that last weekend’s event would adhere to all safety and social distancing protocols,” the statement read.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
— With files from the Associated Press
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