Over the weekend, country artists Chris Janson and Chase Rice sparked major backlash after both performed concerts to large crowds amid the coronavirus pandemic, Janson playing in Idaho and Rice in Tennessee. One person to express their anger at the artists' decisions was Maren Morris, who retweeted a photo of packed crowds at Rice's show along with a message another user wrote that read, "the people in this audience, along with the presenters of this show, are assuring that conscientious musicians won't be able to work their jobs for a while, and that conscientious audiences won't be able to see shows for the foreseeable, and to be blunt, that f—ing sucks."
Her next tweet was a screenshot showing that she had been blocked on the platform by Janson, to which the "My Church" singer wrote, "ummmmmm what did I DO?!" along with several laughing emojis. A source close to the Hwy 30 Fest in Filer, Idaho told Variety that Janson played to around 2,800 people and a person who was at the festival said they saw "one person" wearing a mask the entire day and it was a merchandise seller. "Even vendors and staff were not wearing masks throughout the night," they said.
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
Rice's show was held at the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in East Tennessee and a video the singer posted on his Instagram Story from the event showed concertgoers not wearing masks and standing close to each other at a normal concertgoing distance. "We back," he captioned the clip before removing it due to backlash. Brian May, VP of the Brushy Mountain Group, claimed that Rice played to less than 1,000 people on Saturday night. May said that guests were given temperature checks and hand sanitizer was handed out to every attendee upon entry, though he admitted that the crowd "was not eager" to follow voluntary social distancing guidelines.
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
"We are reevaluating the series from the top to bottom — from implementing further safety measures, to adding stanchions, to converting the space to drive-in style concerts, to postponing shows," he said. Several more shows are reportedly scheduled at the venue in the coming weeks including sets by country artists Kip Moore, Jamey Johnson and Sawyer Brown.