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Private Eye

Whiney Winers

Just one jerk can ruin a concert

By John Saltas
Posted // September 7,2011 -

Alison Krauss headlined the final Red Butte Garden concert of the 2011 season on Sunday, Sept. 4. In case you missed her, don’t do so again, as of all the musicians who frequent these parts, Krauss is one of the very special ones. She’s been with her band, Union Station, for more than 20 years, and every lick of superb musicianship could only be interpreted one of two ways by any musical aspirant: either stick with the nightclub and campfire circuit and call it a day, or dedicate to your voice or musical instrument and stick to it until you can play half as well as Union Station. Just half of Union Station is a ticket to a solid career.

Not that you’ll ever sing as prettily, or half so, as Alison Krauss—few people do. The point remains that Sunday evening was a great experience for the thousands who were lucky enough to enjoy her concert. That includes the folks up on the hill behind Red Butte’s fences—I know they didn’t pay, and I don’t care. I hope they can stay there forever, and I hope the folks who want to build a wall preventing those persons from getting a glimpse (it is neither a great view nor great sound, so let it be) of a free concert (safety be damned), rethink that idea and use the funds for additional shows. Let those folks on the hill hear the music. Music is freedom, after all. But, that’s digression.

Alison Krauss is a real musical treat—that is, unless you were sitting where I was. City Weekly is a sponsor of the Red Butte Garden musical series, and it also purchased a sponsor table this year. In years past, I’d trudged to a place on the grass to eat my sandwiches and drink my wine or beer. I was no different than the—I’m going to guess—over 80 percent of the people who attend Red Butte, who do so with some hard salami, some good bread and a little vino. But, my knees are for crap, so I quit going to concerts, as the grass sitting wasn’t worth it.

This year, we upped our sponsorship deal a bit and a table came with it. Voila! My knees are fine, but my ass is sore from the metal chairs. So it was that less than midway through Krauss’ performance my butt began hurting, and I began to squirm a bit. The squirming caused me to pay increasing attention to the table next to me, which, thanks to two very obnoxious and oblivious women, was getting louder and louder. If you know anything at all about Alison Krauss, you know her voice is one that must be listened to very carefully, her songs carrying all kinds of innuendos and subtleties. Missing even a little phrase can mean you don’t understand the entire song. I began hearing less and less about love, honor, happiness and woe, and more and more about whatever card game or tractor pull the two human vuvuzelas were making noise about.

Same as on the grass—most, if not all, of the seats in the sponsor section were filled by persons without aversions to public consumption of alcohol, particularly wine. Every table that I could see was pouring some kind of wine from every glorious corner of the winemaking world. It made me wonder what that nitwit Sen. John Valentine would do if he were to attend a Red Butte concert. He’d likely try to pass one more of his asinine and useless laws to prevent alcohol drinkers from seeing his kids. It also made me think now would be a prudent time for all Red Butte lovers to petition the concert booker to schedule Red Butte concerts on Sunday only. Anything that lessens the chance that Valentine and his band of brothers and sisters being in my breathing space (I find his righteous odor to be very offensive) is a good thing.

Though annoyed, I didn’t tell the women to shut up. I’ve done that before, and it usually results in me getting popped in the eye, ostensibly because I’m a big guy and people like to hit big guys, plus I don’t have tremendous tact in these situations. For instance, back when the Rolling Stones played in the old U of U football stadium, I spent the better part of “Satisfaction” in a wrestling match with some guy and his girlfriend because I told them both to throw up somewhere else, and not on my shoes. So this time, I left it to a guy closer to the offending women to pipe them down. I thanked him later.

It was kind of amazing. When he turned to tell them to shut up, they offered him some wine, thinking he was asking for a drink, not silence. He repeated himself. Then they understood. Like many dumb drunks, they acted hurt. They later got a second wind, and one of them became utterly annoying, this time intentionally, loudly clapping her hands right behind the nice guy’s head. The two gentlemen the women were with never said so much as a peep, so I took it to mean they were used to such shitty behavior. And shitty—plus rude, inconsiderate and many more unflattering adjectives—is just how it was. It pretty much ruined a perfect evening for a number of people and fellow sponsors.

There’s not much more to say, except that I’d expect that as the major sponsor for Red Butte—the one all of us are grateful to, and with whom I do a reasonable amount of business—Wells Fargo (whose placard sat upon the offensive women’s table) would take a little more care when handing out its allotment of concert tickets or would insist that idiots don’t sit at their tables.

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Posted // September 9,2011 at 19:57 I, too, have bad knees, John. You have my sympathy. I no longer go to outdoor concerts, but not just because of my 70-year-old legs. My wife and I attended a Moody Blues evening in Park City years ago. We relaxed on a blanket we shared with a couple of new-found friends about our age. When the Moodys came onto the stage, everyone, it seems, in that outdoor theatre ran up to the edge of the stage, trampeling the four of us who were silly enough to think we were ok in our position. I'm a drinker, but the booze and beer passed around that night was offensive. The smoke, too, and not just from cigarettes. The evening was ruined and we left early. It seems to me there is a time and place . . . etc. When a great group comes to town why can't people take the timee to enjoy it without the mind-benders? Why can't they do that later? Anyway, we don't go to anything outdoors, sadly. Hope you're well, and get some serious massages for those knees.


Posted // September 9,2011 at 23:06 - I sure did enjoy her in Oh Brother Where Art Thou, TRex. That's how I first became more aware of her--on a night flight, that was the movie, but the screen was broken. Just listened to the movie and fell in love with all the great music. Sorry about your knees and the hassles you've had too. Best. jps


Posted // September 9,2011 at 21:17 - Also, John, didn't you lover Alison Krauss in the great Coen brothers' movie "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?" Absolutely pretty.


Posted // September 7,2011 at 22:20 Preach on brother. I've spent my fair share of wasted minutes railing on outdoor concerts like Twilight Series, simply because of the obnoxious element. Then I realized, 'free to the public' means everyone and anyone can bring their disruptions with them. Red Butte, on the other hand, is not cheap when it comes to concert tickets. People pay hard earned cash to see those shows. And even the sponsor tables (who, most likely were comped free tickets), need to understand that the audience is here more for the music, and less for the random social interaction with cackling morons. I would hope that the sense of mutual respect would be there for all concert goers, paying and non-paying ticket holders alike. Apparently not. Shame on the boozing bimbos.


Posted // September 7,2011 at 15:29 Jeez Saltas, the answer is obvious. IF you'd been packing 'concealed' well, you just pull your piece and do the entire community a favor. The obvious aspect would be, the two bar flies are "concert terrorists." Oh yes. Hell bent on upsetting the natural and common order of all things concertina. Now that manner of 'civil action' would have gotten the attention of the aforementioned Sen. Valentine and the stupid freak would have been senatorially obliged to procure a "good citizens medal" for you. Cause you know, it's the ten year anniversary of 9/11/01 TheDayThatChangedEverything and, that 'global war of terror' drags on and on and on and...
Anyway, just a thought. "UTAH BY FIVE!" Golly, you don't think that asshat Valentine is any relation to Dan Valentine...


Posted // September 7,2011 at 15:25 I went to a show at the Zephyr (forget who was playing, some midwestern rock jam band, it seems) and later complained to Bill Frost that the band was too loud; I couldn't carry on a conversation with my friends. Frost told me to fuck off; it's a rock show. Somehow, I get the sense that you and I are on track to becoming those old scolds yelling at kids to get off our lawns. ... Keep 'em comin' J Rock. Not enough of you in the paper anymore.


Posted // September 7,2011 at 14:04 You never have to ask people to shut up in Symphony Hall, regardless of the show or audience demo. If I'm booking a venue, maybe I don't book someone for an outside, BYOB show, if they typically need to be heard over the audience. Even for indoor shows, Utah audiences can be so small-time and rude. I booked Utah Phillips and Rosalie Sorrels into a club in 1982 and we had to turn up the house lights at one point and ask that people use their "indoor voices" if they felt they just couldn't be quiet for the music. The common-demon-nominator is alcohol, no doubt. It gives a certain billigerence and rudeness to normal events. I know that if I want to start a really ugly evening, like your Stones story, all I have to do is ask a slobbering, billigerent drunk to pipe down, please. Rather than being sorry they imposed on your ticket-priced enjoyment, they will go out of their way to make a scene, like those idiots at Krauss' show who only got louder on purpose after someone asked nicely. And why didn't Red Butte police its own VIP tables? Is there no security there to intervene against obnoxious spoilers? And it's a consumer-driven commodity so there's nothing wrong with telling someone they owe you the price of a ticket for ruining your show. Stick up for yourselves, report them to security, have them removed or warned and get on with it.