I first met Rodriguez on the silver screen. Oddly enough, my parents are my go-to for movies to check out, and one day while I was on the phone with them, they wouldn't stop talking about this film called Searching For Sugar Man. They insisted that I bypass the trailer and online reviews and head straight to the theater.
I looked it up and found it playing at SLC's very own Broadway Theater, and headed over to catch the next showing. I sat down in a nearly empty theater, not quite sure what to expect and eagerly awaited the film to start: Cue feelings of excitement, curiosity, intrigue and overall just fuzzy feel goods. I left the theater determined to further discover the music of Rodriguez and lose myself in it. Now, don't get me wrong, Bob Dylan is really cool and all, but for some reason, Sixto Rodriguez resonated with me far more than Bob ever has (sorry guys).
I downloaded Cold Fact that same day and kept it on repeat for weeks.
Fast forward a few months, as I was scrolling through the feed of the face (aka, Facebook), a little orange image with “Rodriguez” written across the top came into view. I clicked to enlarge it and almost threw my laptop off of my lap. Rodriguez was coming to SLC! Sixto Rodriguez was actually going to play a show here.
As the weeks went by, I had the chance to see Searching for Sugar Man a second time, renewing my excitement to see him live. News of a sold-out show spread through the streets of the Internet and status updates of those in need of tickets filled my feed in the days leading up to the concert.
Showtime rolled around and I tried to determine how the night would go. It was going to be amazing, right? Images of Rodriguez playing to a packed house in South Africa entered my mind, and I felt like 13-year old me was heading to a Backstreet Boys concert.
However, I don't have as much stamina as I did back in those days, and knowing the show was sold out gave me a bit of anxiety, so I waited on being first in line. I grabbed a bite to eat with a friend and downed a cold one to keep my nerves at ease. We made our way to The Complex on foot, bumping into a few friends who told us they had picked up tickets off of Craigslist for $60 a piece.
We strolled up to The Complex, taking note of the few people out front still hoping to buy a ticket off of someone. It was a quarter to 10 and the opener, Jenny O., had just left the stage. As we made our way inside, it was apparent just how many people were there. I can always judge a crowd by my glasses. If my glasses fog up two steps into a room, I instantly ready myself for awkward, sweaty arm rubs and lots of “excuse me's,” which is exactly what happened when we stepped inside.
We bypassed the drink line and found a spot positioned perfectly under one of the air vents in the back, giving us enough room to breathe and move our arms around. As I looked around at the crowd, I realized that the average age was probably 40 to 60, rather than the usual 25–35 age group I was used to. Two feet in front of us, a group of giggly 50-something women took photos of each other, throwing up the piece sign, dancing around, one of them rocking a pink “Rodriguez” shirt, with the infamous image of him walking down the road on it. This was their version of a Backstreet Boys concert.
The house lights dimmed a few minutes later and the 2,500-plus crowd welcomed Rodriguez to Salt Lake City, as he was helped on stage, wearing his signature all black and sunglasses. He got up to the mic and before he said anything, he put on his hat, his long hair hanging from the sides, and a giant grin on his face. Watching this 70-year-old man get ready to play was one of the cutest things I've seen.