The B Is Silent 

Music: Ryan Adams surprises Red Butte by being himself.

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Ryan Adams and his former alt-country band Whiskeytown have been two of my guiltiest pleasures since I was a wee lass. I used to hide my affections but, through open and honest communication with friends who think he should crawl into a hole the size of his gigantic ego and never return, I shout my love to the rafters.

Ryan Adams has been accused (rightfully so, I might add) of being a difficult prima donna but, like the stereotypical woman who falls in love with bad boys, I don’t necessarily care how musicians behave—my main concern is enjoying how they perform onstage. I am not trying to forge a bond or relationship with the artist; I’m merely there to enjoy the show. When I found out Adams and his band of Cardinals were playing Red Butte Garden July 31, I made a point to head to the mountains for what seemed like an awesome outdoor concert.

When telling my fellow man how eager I was to see Ryan Adams in concert, I got befuddled looks followed by the ever-so-predictable “Bryan Adams is still touring?”—referring to the Canadian pop singer responsible for such cloying hits as “Everything I Do (I Do It for You)” and “Run to You.” I of course told them, “The B is silent.”

Red Butte is amazing. It’s like going to a concert in the woods, but without too many hippies. I know that most foreboding stories start out with a dark gloomy night, the threat of rain and wind looming, but potential storms couldn’t overshadow the pleasure of drinking wine—wine that I was allowed to bring in as a responsible adult! Without being forced into a cage or to pound my drinks in the parking lot beforehand. Imagine that.

The crowd was an eclectic mix of the music lover who doesn’t-give-a-damn-what-he-is-listening-to-he-will-dance-no-matter-what, plus college students, parents and children. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Perhaps I was enjoying myself a little too much. When one of the venue organizer’s came onstage to assumedly pacify the crowd for the late show start and to read off a lengthy list of sponsors, I zoned out like Charlie Brown or my teenage self in high school when I thought to myself in class, “I really hate math. I will never need math. Therefore, I will zone out on something prettier” while the teacher discussed algorithms. (Or logarithms; I’m really not sure.) But my not listening to the concert announcement proved far more disastrous than my slacker student ways turned out to be.

Turns out flash photos were only allowed in the first row for the initial two songs. After that, it was “Back that ass up and get yo’ flash outta here.” OK, so I was a bit late, but security took its duties (at the request of, surprise! the artist) a bit too seriously putting the smack down repeatedly as I tried to take a decent shot of the scruffy, sunglasses-wearing Adams.

I’m fine with rules and regulations, so long as they are followed in a rational manner. But, you put hundreds—if not thousands—of people into one venue, and mistakes are bound to be made. Once told a rule, I will abide, for I fear trouble. Unfortunately, that didn’t matter on this night. At least four security guards told me to turn off my flash when my flash was nonexistent. This led to an altercation with a security guard whom I was politely trying to convince that my flash was not only off, but that I had punched it to death in order to ensure no Cameras Gone Wild would happen at this concert.

Oh, but the concert was well worth it—at least, that’s the feeling I walked away with. I thought Adams could croon his way into any alt-country lover’s heart but, apparently, his prissy attitude and relative lack of interaction with the audience (save for comments about his vocals, annoying bees and getting pissed at someone who asked him to play faster) turned off some once-loyal fans, one of whom promised he’d “Never buy another one of that douchebag’s albums ever again.” Well! I guess I’ve just been to too many live shows where the artist is so mixed and mastered that he/she doesn’t sound a stitch like I expect them too, but Ryan Adams, faulty photos, prima-donna antics and all, put on one hell of a show. The man has talent to spare and if he dares make his way through Utah again, I will be there with cameras ... off.

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