September 30, 2007

Meltdown frickin schmeltdown: Ryan Adams has a cranky day

You’d think he’d rent his clothing in agony, rubbed mustard on his face, and thrown live maggots on the audience or something from the emails I started receiving on Thursday. “Ryan Adams: Brilliant or Brat?” read one, “Total meltdown by your guy.” said another. While I genuinely appreciate tips keeping me on the ball (because I’m actually off it most of the time, left to my own devices), once I started clicking the links –the CNN homepage, the NME, from there to news outlets everywhere– I started shaking my head, saying to myself “These people do not know meltdown.”

I was not there so maybe I am missing something, but it seems hyperbolic to call what happened Wednesday at the Ryan Adams show in Minneapolis a meltdown, based on the facts I’ve heard. Perhaps it’s indicative of a slow news day combined with preconceived notions of Adams’ difficult persona in the past and a desire to resurrect that fun news angle. He’s unleashed way better vitriol, and way crazier ramblings than that during his off-the-wagon years. Sounds to me like he just got pissy with the sound levels, which is not a new thing. We know he cares passionately and fervently about his music, and seems to want the songs to get fair footing to be heard the way they’re intended. Now, regarding the pissiness towards the sound guys and the abbreviated set for the excited fans, I personally would probably follow my dad’s adage, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar” (yes, he actually says that) but it hardly sounds like front page international headline news that he has some irritability and doesn’t play an encore.

One writer nailed it after seeing him play a spectacular show in Madison the following night, and reflected on all the hoopla:

Throw Ryan Adams a little slack. This is a guy whose bad day becomes a ticker tape item on CNN. He wants what the audience hears to be perfect, not some contorted version of his sound. Call it whiney, call it anal retentive, but really, it’s more like caring.

Adams is the first artist I’ve come across whose desire to do it right musically outweighed his desire to be superficially fawned over.”

AMEN, sister.

On a brighter note, here’s what the new Ryan Adams EP Follow The Lights will look like when it comes out in three weeks:

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  • I was there Thursday, and I agree, there was no meltdown. He was a little standoff-ish, but then again he has been this whole tour. Very enjoyable show, can’t wait to see him again.

    Dan — September 30, 2007 @ 1:34 pm

  • I would’ve loved to have been there!

    K — September 30, 2007 @ 1:45 pm

  • Interesting to see he’s releasing under “…and the Cardinals” again.

    Really looking forward to this EP (and thank you for the Westerberg goodness too!)

    lism. — September 30, 2007 @ 3:06 pm

  • I saw the show in Austin earlier in the summer, and Ryan signaled the sound guy almost every other song. You could tell it was tense, but definitely worth being patient about. He’s really just ON TOP OF HIS GAME.

    Carles — September 30, 2007 @ 3:13 pm

  • Ryan really doesn’t get that much mainstream press, so it must have been a slow week. Britney must have kept her panties on, Lohan, was passed out, and Hilton was…doing whatever it is she does. Meltdown my achin’ ass. Love ya, Ryan!

    Eric — October 1, 2007 @ 1:13 pm

  • i have mixed feelings about ryan’s crybabyness. it has turned me off from seeing him live as often as i normally would see someone i like as much as him. lots of musicians worry about their sound levels, but they don’t act like little bitchez. it’s just who he is, though. and that’s okay. i agree with your post.

    c — October 1, 2007 @ 8:36 pm

  • Just seen his show in Iowa City last night. No melt down hear! He was having a great time talking with the crowd, and seemed to have really enjoyed the whole evening. Great two and a half hour show!

    Anonymous — October 2, 2007 @ 9:56 am

  • I was at the Minneapolis show, and while it was a far cry from a ‘meltdown’, it was rather disappointing that he left after 65 minutes, especially since I saw him at the Cedar this summer with only 300 people, and that show was amazing. My review is here if you’d like to read it. Cheers and great blog.

    Erik T. — October 2, 2007 @ 10:19 am

  • i work for a production company in iowa city and we just had ryan adams and the cardinals in IC last night. i didn’t see any of the standoffishness. i got a chance to hang out w/ him before and after the show, and i gotta say was cool as shit. he was funny, amiable, jumping on the walkie talkies, comparing calculator watches, helping some girl w/ her homework. an all around nice guy AND he played a kick-ass set.

    of course he should be pissed if the sound doesn’t work right at a show. if you worked for a construction company would you be pissed if you were given a bulldozer w/o a shovel? or if you worked for a bank and got a caluclator that could only subtract and divide, but not add or multiply? people forget that its a job, and he’s a professional. the people he works with should be thinking the same.

    Anonymous — October 2, 2007 @ 10:30 am

  • i would say if he only played 65 mins for a headlining show, it was a meltdown – if only in his head at least. fact is, you never know what you’re gonna get. i was at the infamous nashville ryman show meltdown, which made me quit listening to his music for 2 years, but i was also at the amazing show at red rocks. he’s an emotional person, and seems like he will always be terribly inconsistent due to his emotions. but the good shows are AMAZING!

    rustafarian — October 3, 2007 @ 9:00 pm

  • not a meltdown. at all. i wrote a whole article about it…

    Lizzy — October 4, 2007 @ 7:58 pm

  • He did this same type of thing in Austin a few years ago…I love his music but I just don’t bother going to see him anymore because he’s kind of an ass on stage…it really detracts from his music live…

    damon — October 19, 2007 @ 2:35 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
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