Chase Rice has responded to criticism he received after performing a concert that appeared to lack proper COVID-19 social distancing measures. Rice headlined an outdoor show on Saturday night for nearly 1,000 fans at the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, a historic prison and concert venue in Petros, Tennessee.
Photos and video of Rice’s performance, showing people clustered together near the front of the stage, sparked an uproar on social media, with fans and even other artists lambasting Rice for putting the health of his fans at risk. Kelsea Ballerini called him “selfish”; Will Hoge said Rice and Chris Janson, who also headlined a festival in Idaho on Saturday night, “should be embarrassed.”
“I just wanted to address my show Saturday night… 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,” Rice said in an Instagram post. “I understand there’s a lot of varying opinions, a lot of different opinions on COVID-19, how it works with live music crowds and what all that looks like.”
Moving forward, Rice said that the focus will be on fan safety. “You guys are everything to me, so your safety is a huge, huge priority,” he said, adding that his next concert, a July 3rd date in Ashland, Kentucky, will be staged in a drive-in format. “The safer we are now, the quicker we get to get to actual normal live shows, which I know we all want. Please go by the rules, please go by the laws.”
Brian May, the VP of the Brushy Mountain Group, which oversees the venue at which Rice performed on Saturday, released a statement over the weekend that spelled out their intended safety efforts: “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. 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.”
Rice, who had a 2018 Number One hit with the song “Eyes on You,” released his latest LP, The Album, Pt. II, in May. He has concerts booked through September.