A string of country shows — some flouting social distancing and masks — were held in recent days
June 30, 2020
Rolling Stone – Last Saturday (Juen 27), Chase Rice played a concert in Petros, Tennessee, for nearly 1,000 smiling fans.
You could tell they were smiling because virtually none of them were wearing masks.
Photos and videos of the gig showing concertgoers packed in tight by the stage — some of them shared by Rice himself — went viral over the weekend.
“We back,” Rice wrote over an Instagram video of fans cheering and potentially spewing COVID-19 droplets into the air at the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, a historic site and concert venue about three hours east of Nashville.
On the same night — 2,000 miles away at the Hwy 30 Music Fest in Filer, Idaho — Chris Janson was performing his own concert without apparent social-distancing precautions.
The “Buy Me a Boat” singer — who called for the economy to reopen in April with the song “Put Me Back to Work” (sample lyric: “Open up the doors and fill the seats”) — was headlining the final night of the three-day festival.
By Monday morning, both artists were criticized for performing concerts with a live audience during a worldwide health crisis and putting thousands of fans at risk: Rice’s concert sold 954 tickets; the Hwy 30 Music Fest limited attendance to 2,000.
In a seismic shift in Nashville’s “Let’s all be friends” image, even some of Rice’s and Janson’s fellow artists took them to task, including Jason Isbell, Mickey Guyton (“Jesus help us”), Will Hoge (“Y’all should be embarrassed”), and Kelsea Ballerini, the latter deriding Rice as “selfish.”
Not all country performers felt the same way. “I Met a Girl” singer William Michael Morgan voiced his support for Rice in a since-deleted tweet, and Jake Owen scolded his peers for their harsh reactions in another tweet that has since disappeared … Read more.