The biggest concert in southern Utah’s history brought nationwide notoriety to Dixie State University, but even the college’s appearance on MTV’s Woodie Awards didn’t quell some of the community’s concerns.
The Macklemore and Ryan Lewis concert sold out weeks before the actual event, and the college was featured prominently on the March 17 airing of the MTV Woodie Awards. The outdoor show gave the nation something other than DSU’s controversial name to talk about.
But at a local level, the controversies are far from over.
Macklemore is definitely not a family-friendly performer, but he did make an agreement with the DSU Student Association and MTV that he would keep the concert PG-13. However, that’s not how it went down. Some of the lyrics filtered through uncensored, and Macklemore had a few racy comments both before and after the concert.
The biggest problem with the foul language was the venue. Since the concert was held at the practice field at Hansen Stadium, the neighborhood residents were privy to all the music and lyrics.
Adjunct English instructor Cameron Hansen lives across the street from the stadium and was among a slew of locals who thought the concert was too loud and too explicit.
He said he and his family could hear the performance through closed windows and doors, and the questionable lyrics were both audible and visible.
“I took a few pictures (from my back yard) to show to my students,” Hansen said. “But not only was the song not the radio edit version, which is what I was hoping for, but there on the big screen was every lyric.”
In addition to hearing and seeing the F-word, Hansen said he also witnessed several children scaling the fence in order to access the concert, and he thought having a rapper like Macklemore perform at such an easily accessible venue was a poor decision.
Jordon Sharp, director of student involvement and leadership, said DSUSA representatives took immediate action after the first profanities were spoken on stage.
“We swiftly got to his management,” Sharp said. “But at the very end, [Macklemore] had his closing remarks that were against our agreed policies, but at that point it was too late.”
Sharp said there was little the DSUSA could do to stop Macklemore from using profanities outside of shutting down the event completely, which was not an option due to contractual agreements. But he said other than the language at the beginning and end of the show, the performance was an outstanding success.
“I don’t think people understand the amount of time and effort and energy the student leaders put into this,” Sharp said. “They should be commended for that effort. They made it safe and fun.”
Sharp said the DSUSA’s job is to create an environment that draws students in and makes them want to be at the college. He said it’s best when students attend events like the Macklemore concert where the environment is safe and supervised.
“We prefer them to be here in a safe environment rather than have them out in the streets at night,” Sharp said.
As for the noise complaints, Sharp said there were no noise ordinances broken, and the concert wrapped up just after 10 p.m.
Mazie Ludlow, a junior communication major from Turlock, Calif. and an organizer for the event, said the money raised and the publicity for DSU far outweigh the few vulgarities that slipped into the performance.
“It’s sad to see the attention brought to the little bit of negativity for something so positive for the school,” she said.
However, Hansen argued that the surrounding community had no choice about attending the concert, and the DSUSA should have taken the St. George residents into consideration when booking a performer that might possibly sing adult-themed songs.
“For the neighbors (and for) my family, we did not have a choice,” Hansen said. “It’s my place. It’s where I live. That’s my sanctuary. That’s where I want to have my family feel protected. We were prisoners in our own home, held captive by this concert.
Sharp apologized on behalf of the college, but he also reiterated that it was Macklemore, not the DSUSA, who broke the agreement to keep the concert clean.
Ludlow said she understands the concerns, but she wants the community to remember that the college benefited greatly from the event. And when the college benefits, so does the city.
“There were obviously parts that weren’t necessarily what we were expecting,” Ludlow said. “But the positives outweigh the negatives a hundred times over. If given the chance, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”