Over the weekend, social media lit up with strong criticisms of country musicians Chase Rice and Chris Janson, after both musicians played concerts — regular concerts with an audience crammed pretty closely together, minimal (at best) signs of social distancing going on — in Tennessee and Idaho, respectively.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit an indefinite pause on live music and concerts. It’s been devastating to the music business. Everybody wants concerts to return. Not only are they crucial for the music business in general, but they’re a singular form of entertainment for music fans everywhere … but, with coronavirus cases spiking nationwide and the pandemic still not “under control” enough to return to these sorts of activities safely, scenes like the below will only garner negative attention for the time being.
Rice uploaded a video to his Instagram story of the concert, deleting it later due to blowback:
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
Janson’s show at Idaho’s Hwy 30 Fest also caught heat for similar reasons and visuals:
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
Per Vulture, regarding Janson’s show:
A source told Variety attendance for the event was around 2,800, or nearly triple the claimed audience for Rice’s concert. An attendee told Variety, “I personally one saw one person wearing a mask the entire day, and that was a merch seller.”
Fox News published a statement from the company that owns the venue Chase Rice at which Rice played his concert, refuting some of the visuals seen in the viral tweets:
“All local requirements were abided by for the recent concert, and numerous precautions were taken,” VP of Brushy Mountain Group Brian May said in a statement. “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 (954 tickets sold with 809 tickets scanned) in attendance Saturday night providing ample space in the outdoor lawn area for fans to spread out to their own comfort level.”
As these tweets made the rounds, strong tweets from within the music industry came out criticizing Rice, Janson and their management teams for allowing these concerts to happen given the state of the coronavirus and, particularly, spikes of the virus in states all across the country.
Said Kelsea 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
Jason Isbell had some words:
Boy y’all really throwing the term “country star” around today. It’s like the adult film industry, they aren’t all “stars.” Hell, some are so broke they’ve decided to do shows this weekend regardless of what might happen to their non-isolated, maskless audience!
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) June 28, 2020
Adam Lazarra, front man of emo/rock band Taking Back Sunday, had pointed commentary directed at the management and booking agents responsible for green-lighting these concerts:
We want to be working. All of us do, but this makes it harder for musicians/managers/crews/drivers/venues/promoters/concert goers/everyone.
If music is love this was neither.
And for what? Like it or not we’re all in this together @ChaseRiceMusic, Give a Damn. https://t.co/SyRzySSfx6
— adam b lazzara (@AdamDamnLazzara) June 28, 2020