Country music star Chase Rice sparked controversy after he returned to the stage on June 27 to perform in front of a huge group of fans — most of whom were not social distancing or wearing masks despite rising cases of COVID-19.
After he posted a video on his Instagram Story showing hundreds of people singing along to his recent hit "Eyes On You," captioning it "We back" and adding a smiley face sunglasses emoji, fans, peers and other bold-faced Nashville names including Kelsea Ballerini, Bobby Bones, Maren Morris and Mickey Guyton publicly criticized Chase and the venue, the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Petros, Tennessee, which is a former prison-turned-event center.
"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," Kelsea tweeted in response to a fan's re-post of Chase's video, referencing how other country stars have been holding drive-in concerts to mitigate coronavirus spread. "@ChaseRiceMusic, We all want (and need) to tour. We just care about our fans and their families enough to wait."
Singer-songwriter Mickey tweeted her thoughts too, writing, "This is happening in Tennessee where cases are spiking y'all. Jesus help us." She added, "I'm asthmatic…. I'm high risk and seeing this just broke me. Shame on him. People don't have jobs. People can't buy food. People are dying…. yet here he is acting like it isn't even happening. I'm sick to my stomach."
Maren chimed in, tweeting simply "no masks" alongside head-exploding and frowning-face emojis.
Radio DJ Bobby also took to Twitter, retweeting Chase's video along with the message, "Aside from the obvious …. probably also heavy liability here. Just talked to two different attorneys about this," with three cringey-face emojis.
Bobby further hit back at commenters who tried to compare Chase's concert with recent protests. "The difference is a protest isn't a singularly organized profit event . And you can't sue someone for individually taking part in a protest. That was a joke tweet right ? You aren't really that dense?" Bobby responded to one fan. He explained to another that the concert attendees will likely be "going home to folks that stayed home and pass it that way. It's not about them getting sick. It's about who they are going to GET sick," he tweeted.
TMZ initially reported that 4,000 people showed up for the concert, but a rep for Chase told Wonderwall.com that the number of attendees was far lower. "While the venue that normally holds 10,000 was capped at 4,000 capacity, there were [less than] 1,000 fans actually in attendance," the rep said.
The event center, via an Instagram post, had encouraged fans to spread out as to maintain social distancing. It also said it was selling bandanas that could be used as face coverings. However, judging by social media videos, those messages were lost among fans as they gathered near the stage.