Chase Rice responds to criticism for playing packed concert amid COVID-19 pandemic

Kelsea Ballerini and Mickey Guyton called Rice out on Twitter for the show.

June 30, 2020, 1:47 PM

Chase Rice has responded to the backlash he received over the weekend for his recent live concert which took place while COVID-19 cases across the U.S. continue to climb.

Saturday night, Rice performed at the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary -- a former prison in Petros, Tennessee, that has been converted into a concert venue. He received criticism on social media after posting photos and videos that showed members of the audience crowded together at the foot of the stage, not wearing masks or following social distancing guidelines.

In a video posted on Instagram Monday afternoon, Rice, 34, acknowledged that "a lot of people online had a big problem with how the show looked, how the show went down."

"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," he continued.

Rice went on to say that fans' safety is a top priority and thanks them for their support that allows him to make music and perform live. "My biggest thing is y'all," he said. "You guys are everything to me, so your safety's a huge priority."

Chase also revealed that he's performing a drive-in concert on Friday at Paramount Arts Center in Ashland, Kentucky. He said there will be marked-off spaces for individual vehicles and he encouraged fans to enjoy the concert while remaining in their respective areas.

"You can get our of your cars, get out of your trucks and party with me, please do...but stay in your own space, stay with the people you came with," Rice added. "The biggest thing for all of us is the safer we are now, the quicker that we get to actual normal live shows, which I know we all want."

In the wake of his concert Saturday night, the country community expressed its collective disbelief and outrage, claiming the Rice concert jeopardized the health of thousands of people -- not just those in attendance but people they may come in contact with later.

Kelsea Ballerini called out the "Eyes on You" singer on Sunday, tweeting, "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 that, while she and other artists everywhere are chomping at the bit to get back on tour, the health and safety of their fans always comes first.

Mickey Guyton expressed her concern that the concert will exacerbate COVID-19 cases in the state, tweeting on Sunday, "This is happening in Tennessee where cases are spiking y'all. Jesus help us."

The venue can typically host up to 10,000 people and, as part of its safety protocol amid the pandemic, has reduced that to a maximum capacity of 4,000, per their Instagram post.

Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary told ABC News, "All local requirements were abided by for the recent concert, and numerous precautions were taken." This included temperature checks and free hand sanitizer provided to everyone upon entry.

The venue also claimed there were "less than 1,000" people in attendance and they had "ample space in the outdoor lawn area for fans to spread out to their own comfort level."

That said, they admitted they "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."

The venue will now reevaluate its safety measures "from the top to bottom" to further enhance the safety of attendees, performing artists and others.

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events