Chase Rice and Chris Janson hold jampacked concerts for mask-free fans amid Covid-19, spark outrage
Both musicians had shared footage of their recent concerts on social media, which showed fans packed close together as they cheered on, putting them all at risk of infection
Country music stars Chase Rice and Chris Janson have angered a lot of people online by sharing footage of their recent concerts where audience members did not seem to be adhering to the recommended social distancing norms. Even though the United States and the rest of the world are currently dealing with the threat of the fast-spreading coronavirus on an unprecedented scale, live concert events have resumed in places like Nashville, Idaho and Georgia. And while musicians like Rice and Janson are probably not the first musicians to play for packed crowds since the lockdown restrictions eased up, they've certainly drawn the ire of health-conscious citizens by proudly posting footage of these ill-advised public gatherings online.
Rice recently posted concert footage from a show he did in East Tennessee on Saturday night, where the crowd could be seen enjoying the music while standing shoulder-to-shoulder without masks, a big no-no in today's social climate where the risk of Covid-19 infection is still critically high. Rice had shared the footage on his Instagram account along with the caption "We back" and the clips remained on his Instagram Stories on Sunday, June 28, even while people reacted angrily to this breach of health and safety protocols. Similarly, Janson also shared footage of closely-packed-together fans at a concert he had played on Saturday at the Hwy 30 Fest in Filer, Idaho. However, he later deleted the footage from his social media accounts by Sunday after backlash. One Twitter user had even posted the clip with the caption: "Oh look, Chris Janson also doesn’t care about the health of his fans!"
Another fan shared the clip of the Rice concert on June 28 with the caption, "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." One of the people who immediately voiced their disapproval was country music star Kelsea Ballerini, who tweeted, "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 added, "@ChaseRiceMusic, we all want (and need) to tour. We just care about our fans and their families enough to wait."
Another fan angrily reacted "Hey, @ChaseRiceMusic, you are trash for doing this and the venue, you are trash for putting this on." Brian May, Vice President of the Brushy Mountain Group who hosted the Chase Rice concert at the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary made it clear that "all local requirements were abided by for the recent concert, and numerous precautions were taken". These precautions included lowering the maximum audience capacity, conducting temperature checks, and making sure hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, and bandanas were present.
He did admit, however, “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." Brian May confirmed that different social distancing protocols were being considered for future shows which would feature country artistes like Kip Moore, Jamey Johnson and Sawyer Brown. "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.”
Not everyone was unhappy about the way things went down though. One fan who went to the Rice concert tweeted, “I was there, it was a great concert.” He also added, "There was plenty of room for people who wanted to social distance. Masks do nothing. Can’t live in fear forever... The venue was so large that if you wanted you could be 50 ft away from people at times... There are plenty more things out there that we could get sick from that’s worse than Covid. Chase Rice put on a great show!"
Looks like the coronavirus song that Rise had made in March still rings true: "Dear corona, you don’t know the heart of a country fan / You don’t know that we don’t give a damn / So you can reschedule Stagecoach / But you gotta understand / That you don’t know the heart of a country fan."