Practical Dad

Do Parents Belong at Rock Concerts?

One of the touted punk rock events is the annual Vans Warped Tour, which travels from city to city with a line up of dozens of bands.  While  I enjoyed the occasional show in my youth, it's different when you bring the kids.  The music is stunningly loud and the crush in the pit up front tight enough that I'm content to sit in the back and actually enjoy some of the music while I read.  Or write, for that matter.  But does a middle aged man even have a place amongst this hip venue?  Exactly what the hell am I even doing here?

First, let me provide a background.  This particular event - tickets purchased almost a half year in advance - is a peace offering to Middle.  While I was gone for a weekend with Eldest and her peers, Middle entered an online radio station contest using my name, since I'm technically an adult.  He informed my wife, who approved, but neither actually informed me.  (Un)fortunately, he won the prizes and the station manager rapidly understood that it was a  minor's entry when he called me days later to congratulate me on a win about which I was utterly baffled.  Whe he asked about the age of the actual entrant, I told him the truth. 

Two lessons for future use, son:  first, tell me if you ever use my name and ask permission first;  second, don't expect me to lie for you.

I still felt terrible since he missed an opportunity to meet the members of 'Avenged Sevenfold' and receive an electric guitar signed by the band.  Even my wife was appalled at my inability to cope with the phone call and seize the prize.  Hence, the concert.

But shouldn't teens go to concerts themselves?  Isn't that part of the experience?  Frankly, no.

  • The event occurred across state lines in a city in which Eldest, who drove, has never been.  Middle doesn't have the navigational skills yet and I saw no value in sending two teen minors through major metropolitan rush hour traffic enroute to a concert.  Eldest still drove, but I handled the navigational and color commentary duties and given the afternoon parking lot on the expressway, I'm glad that I went.
  • This is a full-blown rock concert and there are all manner of teens - and adults - there and not all of them give a rat's ass about someone else.  We've tried to raise the kids with both the expectation of considering consequences as well as acting in a moral and civilized manner.  The unfortunate reality is that a substantial number of kids and young adults haven't been taught the same thing and I've witnessed circumstances in which behavior regresses to a Lord of the Flies level.  If this is their first experience, then I want to at least be in the background to keep tabs on things. 
  • I'm continally curious about the teen/young adult scene and what's occurring there.  The more information and experience that I have, the better that I'm able to assess what's going on.
  • Stupidity is contagious and teens whose hormones and judgment are affected by ear-bleeding rock music are especially susceptible to catching it.  If you're not certain, you can ask a kid who comes in one evening with green hair.  Hey, they said that they'd done it before.  What could go wrong?
  • Taking them isn't the same as being with them the entire time.  They brought along a friend and I simply arranged to meet them at periodic intervals, letting them experience the music and event. 

Right.  'Nuff said.

Finally, some of the music is actually good and I've now got several tunes that I'll be buying for the mp3 player.  It wouldn't happen if I were still listening to the "Greatest Hits of My Life" format, so I'll find my spot with the other parents in the back and sit back swilling the $3 bottled water. 

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