Yesterday I woke up still pretty bummed out that one of my favorite artists, Ryan Adams, had cancelled his show minutes before it was to start. I was sitting outside the venue as I had been since around 4:45 and someone replied to my tweet (about being excited for the show) that he had cancelled. I check his twitter and see that he has indeed retweeted a canned tweet from SXSW that he had cancelled due to illness. This is not my first rodeo. I’ve seen thousands of shows. I’ve dealt with a handful of cancelled appearances (some as soul crushing as the White Stripes cancelling their show at the Greek Theatre in what would have been one of their final shows) but for the most part it doesn’t happen. When it does, it sucks. For everyone, but I want to be very clear that my initial frustration from the late-cancellation wasn’t because I wanted Mr. Adams to perform when he was sick. It stemmed from the fact that he sold $30 tickets at 6PM to me and a handful of other die hard fans who waited in line for over an hour 5 feet away from his tour bus when he wasn’t going to play the show. I also thought he should have taken the time(even if in 140 characters or less) to say what was going on, and that he was sorry to those who had spent time and money getting down to the venue only to be told he wasn’t performing less than an hour before. These were my initial issues. Then this happened.
I had just woken up to a series of tweets from THE Ryan Adams alternating from ‘I had pneumonia’ ‘my Ménière’s disease was flaring up’ ‘ I lost my voice’ ‘I had a respiratory infection’ and ‘my entire band was sick!’
Ok. Where do I begin?
At first I was stunned that this was even happening but that quickly shifted to ‘oh shit’ when I realized he has 750,000 FOLLOWERS who were now coming for my soul. What happened next is why I will never listen to his music again.
This 42 year old man who I have long since admired, felt the need to publicly shame me for being upset about a late notice day of cancelled show and his lack of an apology. Yes my life and my heart will go on, but I was bummed out. I sat next to a young woman in the hotel bar next door to ACL who had driven down from Houston that morning to see his show. She ordered one large piece of chocolate cake and told me she was heading back to her hotel room after she finished because she had waited ‘years’ to see him and was actually inside the venue when they came up to her ‘perfect’ seat in the balcony and told her he was no longer performing.
That is the part that really sucks about cancelled shows. People are there to see an artist they like enough to spend their money to see live, and they deserve a sincere apology when the show doesn’t happen. If you don’t agree with me, then to each their own, but I firmly believe that. For reference, here is a much lesser known but much more humble example of a genuine apology over a cancelled show. A little empathy often goes a long way. But oh man, ask and you shalt not receive.
Rather than apologize, he sent his brigade of ~fans to attack my intelligence, character, and self worth for sending two tweets expressing my disappointment for a cancelled show. He then went on to ‘favorite’ memes people began sending me that (in my humble opinion) were much more ‘mean’ than the (self described) #meantweet I had sent about the show. For my entire day yesterday I fought the urge to look at the mentions on Twitter and see what people were saying about me. I had a coworker text me to tell me he saw what I said when a local blog picked up the story. Yes, social media is public and forever, but did expressing my frustration warrant a man who has an audience of 750K followers to essentially blow me up? A cancelled show I can complain about and get over but having the person you once respected (and just spent the last 48 hours of your volunteer shifts at SXSW telling everyone you met how excited you were for his set) reducing you to a ‘mean person’ is something that feels much worse. But he wasn’t done yet.
Aside from the onslaught of mean tweets pouring in, a friend of mine reached out to him directly and privately to say she was a huge fan who wished he would’ve let us know sooner. His reaction to her is…something else.
I’m going to take the mic here to speak directly to Mr. Adams and just how wrong you are. MOST people work when they’re sick. Hell, I have taken no more than one sick day a year in my adult life. My father has taken zero. When you’re sick, Mr. Ryan Adams, you usually still go to work. And it usually isn’t the kind of job that less than 00001% of people are lucky enough to have. You know, the one where you make critically acclaimed music, are paid millions of dollars, and have thousands of fans showing up to said ‘job’ to reaffirm how awesome you are and how much you are appreciated. MOST of us do indeed go into work feeling sick, tired, rushing to take kids to school and with added stresses like hoping the babysitter is going to show up so we can spend our hard earned hourly wage on tickets to see your rock show. It is laughable to me that you are so jaded that you not only don’t feel bad for cancelling the show, but mocked a fan in your response to their private, and thoughtful message. Mr. Ryan Adams my sympathy cup runneth over for you and your 0ver-worked band who came all the way from Los Angeles California (*Drake voice* ‘we know’) to cancel your show and refuse to apologize for it. The girl in the hotel bar who had driven 4 hours, the woman who went at 7 am to try and buy one of the 100 tickets that morning only to come back and wait another hour at 5 to secure an ever coveted ticket, we’re the real ‘mean’ ones.
You see, Mr. Ryan Adams, if you had heard the things we were saying in those ticket lines this morning, you wouldn’t have called us mean and ungrateful. You would have known how much we loved the chord progression on ‘We Disappear’ and how many times we listened to ‘Shiver and Shake’ on the way to work every morning. How one guy was buying a ticket for his sister and how much your music meant to both of them. Whether or not it was really Mandy’s laugh at the end of the album and how much richer it felt through headphones. We were there because we loved your music, though now I will never listen to it again. Though you blocked me on social media (after your calgary call to your adoring fans to come for me which is cowardly in itself) I have no way of saying this to you which is why I am hoping this message somehow makes it to you. To tell you that no, I do not still love you, babe and to warn others who still might. Uh huh. Good riddance.
‘You guys, you’re always talking about the fans, the fans, the fans; she was your biggest fan’