Nearly 48 hours following his controversial performance at Petros’ historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary outside of Nashville, Chase Rice has responded to social media complaints about the lack of social distancing and mask wearing at the show that drew around 1,000 people.
“I understand that 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,” the country singer said in an Instagram video posted on Monday (June 29). “My biggest thing is y’all. 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 them back. You guys are everything to me, so your safety is a huge priority.
“Moving forward, I have a show in Ashland, Kentucky on Friday, and it’s a drive-in show,” he continued. “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. And the biggest thing for all of us is the safer we are now, the quicker we get to actual normal live shows, which I know we all want. Thank you guys for understanding, please go by the rules, please go by the laws on this Friday show coming up and shows moving forward.”
In a statement to Billboard on Sunday (June 28), Brian May, the VP of the Brushy Mountain Group, said that the venue’s capacity for the Saturday night show had been reduced from 10,000 to 4,000. “All local requirements were abided by for the recent concert, and numerous precautions were taken,” he noted. May’s statement also added that there were fewer than 1,000 people at the concert, and everyone’s temperature was checked before they were allowed into the show.
In addition, “vendors and staff were advised to wear masks and gloves” — though it is not mandated — and hand sanitizer was provided to attendees. While the reduced capacity allowed for some social distancing, May noted that the venue was unable to enforce the recommended distancing, which was posted around the space. “We are re-evaluating the series from top to bottom — from implementing further safety measures, to adding stanchions, to converting the space to drive-in style concerts, to postponing shows,” he added.
In March, Rice uploaded a song called “Dear Corona,” a semi-lighthearted look at how country music fans were stronger than the virus, including the lyrics, “Dear corona, you don’t know the heart of a country fan. You don’t know that we don’t give a damn.”
Unlike artists in some other genres, country acts tend to tour year round and often aren’t as dependent upon album release schedules to coordinate tour dates.
Country artists were among the first to hold drive-in shows including a series of shows at the Texas Rangers Stadium, as well as Keith Urban’s drive in show for Vanderbilt University Medical Center workers, Alan Jackson‘s two shows earlier this month and Garth Brooks’ Saturday (June 27) taped full-production show that was beamed to more than 300 drive-ins across North America and drew more than 350,000 fans, according to Brooks’ representative. Live Nation’s inaugural Live from the Drive In shows, July 10-12 feature predominantly country acts, including Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker and Jon Pardi.