For those of you who don’t know, I live in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It’s not an awful place to live, but also not the best place to live. It’s also not the best state to be in during a pandemic that has become way too politicized. Far too many people have chosen to align their choices and actions in regards to Covid with their party affiliation or their own selfish needs rather than be informed by science.
Cheyenne is also the host of Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD), the biggest outdoor rodeo in the world. The event also brings in top bands and musicians (mostly from the country genre) for a night show lineup that only happens once a year in this town. So, it’s a pretty big deal.
CFD was canceled last year for obvious reasons, but they decided to move forward this year with precautions (that went completely unenforced) even while our county began to see surges due to the Delta variant. Our hospitals in town are also pretty much at capacity. So, I was pretty conflicted when I won some Kane Brown concert tickets through my job on whether or not it would be responsible to go.
I’m vaccinated, but there have been cases popping up in town of vaccinated folks and at least one vaccinated person I knew of who had to be hospitalized. Only around 32% of our population has been vaccinated, so, I knew going was taking a bit of a risk. In the ten years I have worked at my job I had never won any of the annual CFD ticket drawings, so of course this was the year that I won.
When I went to pick up the tickets from the President’s Office, the assistant greeted me with exuberance and asked me how excited I was to go. I started to explain my apprehension, but she was more concerned with what I was going to wear. Here’s the conversation that took place:
President’s Office Assistant: Just so you know, these are corporate sponsored tickets. You’re expected to wear western gear to the event, because technically you’ll be representing the college.
I began to panic a little, because I am assuming that she expects me to show up in a cowboy hat with boots to match, an oversized buckle, and a polyester shirt with fringe.
Me: Ummmmm, I don’t own any clothes like that
She is clearly taken back that I don’t own such clothing, and I felt a little judged as if she was questioning my loyalty to CFD or Wyoming. The locals really take CFD and “the western way” seriously to the point of unhealthy worship.
President’s Office Assistant: Well, you can just wear jeans and a button up shirt. You know, just don’t show up wearing something like booty shorts!
Me: Ma’am! The fact that you think I own a pair of booty shorts let alone think I can pull something like that off!?!? Stop it! But also, bless!
As flattered as I was by that conversation, what I was going to wear was seriously the least of my concerns. It was weird trying to explain my apprehension to folks, because most people in this state have long since moved on from Covid and are actively denying that the pandemic is still a thing. My concerns were clearly not of interest for anyone else.
I mulled it over for a weekend, and really struggled trying to decide if this was something I wanted to go to. I didn’t know anything about any of the opening acts, and the only thing I knew about the headliner, Kane Brown, was that those two ladies on that Home Edit Netflix show organized his pantry in an episode. So, I didn’t know anything about his music. All I really knew was that he was incredibly hot…So, was it really work risking going out into large unvaccinated crowds just to gaze into his dreamy blue eyes and oogle at his chiseled body and jawline?
Ultimately, I decided to go, because when else was I going to get to experience a CFD night show for free and get the VIP treatment at that. I had asked around, and the badged VIP area I would be viewing the concert from was apparently blocked off from the rambunctious party zones and the rest of the crowds. It’s also outdoors which reduces risk to exposure considerably, and my research indicated break-through covid cases was in the very small percentages. So, I went…not to objectify Kane Brown, but because I knew this would be an experience worth having…I mean, mostly.
I was still pretty anxious at the idea of being around large amounts of people. Not only because of pandemic reasons, but I also have social anxiety that tends to kick-in at gatherings and when groups of people are involved. I’m awkward AF even in one on one settings, so who am I kidding here. It was definitely crowded, but I am glad I went. It had been almost two years since I had been to a concert, and I’m not going to lie, it was soooo good to hear live music again. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until this very night. I had always described live music shows as my place of worship (I’m not religious, but if I were, music would be my higher power). All of my anxiety and apprehension melted away as soon as I got to the stage and was immersed in the sounds, and the ambiance created by the sorcery of music. I forgot that music is the perfect therapy and the one time crowds don’t seem to bother me is when there is live music playing. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t experience a flood of emotions; this was a moment.
Country music isn’t my top genre and probably the music styling choice that I seldomly listen to or gravitate towards, but it didn’t matter. I was just overjoyed to hear the banging of drums, the deep thumps of bass guitars, the squeals of electric guitars, and the sweet timbre in a variety of vocals from musicians who have clearly missed the energy that comes with performing live for audiences just as much as we have missed the experience of live music. Regardless of musical preferences, if you’re a lover of music, the experience just hits different when they’ve been taken away, and you realize you took them for granted.
The opening band Tigirlily rocked the stage with girl power and their joy in doing what they love on stage was contagious.
The following band Restless Road was a nice surprise. I would describe them as a country version of The Jonas Brothers. They have a western sound, but the trio is masterful at blending their voices with each other and create some of the most pleasant harmonies I’ve heard from a trio in a long time. The bass had a deep voice that had a strong yet smooth pitch to it that was especially swoon-worthy. Their mash-ups were on point, and who doesn’t love a good mash-up? Restless Road was a highlight for me, and was my favorite set of the night. They definitely won over a fan.
Kane Brown put on a good show though, and his production value was entertaining and wrapped up the night nicely. Again, I wasn’t too familiar with Kane Brown’s music, but I appreciated his playfulness with the country music genre and plan on adding a few of his tunes to my Spotify list. His occasional shirt lift to reveal his muscular torso to tease the girls in the audience (and gay dudes like me whether that was his intention or not) was fun, but honestly it was more entertaining watching the reactions and dramatic sighs and OMGs from the thirsty and tipsy cowgirls (most of whom only become cowgirls for one week out of the year).
All in all, it was a damn good show, and I’m glad I ended up going. Those of you that have been following my blog and my more recent posts, know that I’ve been struggling with some things and been processing some pretty heavy stuff recently, so this was a welcome and refreshing break. To find solace in live music again was something I didn’t know I needed, but now that I’ve had it, I want more.
I’ve got a couple of tickets (jumped the gun and purchased these before the delta variant and vaccinated breakouts were a thing) for some upcoming shows in Colorado. Death Cab for Cutie in September and 311 in October. They’re at Red Rocks, so it’s at least outdoors. I questioned whether or not I would go or end up selling them with recent pandemic developments. Considering I had such a blast with bands and music I wasn’t all that familiar with, I can only imagine how magical seeing bands I love at Red Rocks will be like in comparison. So yeah, pretty sure I’m gonna risk it again; all for the music. It’s been almost two years without worship, and it’s time to go back to church.