Me: That’s Jack Irons! He was the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ original drummer and was one the founding members of the band. He also played for Pearl Jam! He got sick, and had to leave the band, but he is playing drums, as one of the opening acts, for all the North America shows! Isn’t that awesome?!
Em: I know, Mom! [Eye roll]
My parents took me to my first big music concert in the late 1970s. It was the Bee Gees. Our neighbors on 9th Street rented a big yellow school bus, and we all piled in and headed to Dodger Stadium. We sat way up in the bleachers. I remember white and bright and sunny. With a quick Google search I can see that this was on July 7, 1979. Turns out, I was seven years old.
My husband and I have been planning our first concert with Emma for months. We have a middle-aged motto that we are “Too Old for Bad Seats,” so we don’t go to many live shows and make it worth our while when we do. Our last concert, just the two of us, was the Foo Fighters. As we were leaving the house, with my mom there to kidsit, Emma yelled that it was not fair: one of us should give up our ticket and take her, instead. We instead took this as a sign that [we would start drinking as soon as we arrived at the arena, and] she was ready to go and see her first big show.
After buying three scalped premium tickets off of Stub Hub, March 10 arrived and we were off to see the sold out Red Hot Chili Peppers show. It was their last night in Los Angeles at the Staples Center.
Today, friends and family asked me how Emma enjoyed the show. This is my long answer, with some unsolicited advice if you were to chose to repeat this experience:
(1) Bring earplugs. Emma plays drums so they are always in her backpack. I would not have thought of this on my own. But I still gave her dad (aka my ex-husband) the of-course-I-am look when he asked me if I would be protecting her hearing at the show.
(2) It could be the first time you explain what pot smells like. And if your kid is a straight edge punk rocker like mine, they will be horrified that anyone would ever considering doing such a thing.
Em: The question is not WHAT it is, the question is WHO is doing it?!
And then they will look all around to try to catch the burners in the act. Emma counted five. Just about this time you will regret not bringing them an iDevice to play with.
(3) Your child may remind you that strobe lights are a seizure hazard. This was right around the time I was asking myself, “Is this my child?” and right before the time I reminded myself that I was in actuality just like this at 10.
(4) While waiting for the band to start, your child may unsuccessfully attempt to count how many people are in the stadium. You may remind yourself to practice math with them during the summer. You’ll never actually do this, and later feel bad about it. (See #2 re: iDevice)
(5) If a band, like Trombone Charlie & Orleans Avenue, is the opening act…they may show your child that playing a horn is really super cool. But if you thought for one minute that this would make your school music program trumpet-playing child change their plan for quitting at the end of the year, you will be sadly mistaken. They will still be switching to choir, like they originally intended. But, when Trombone Charlie asks the crowd to clap along, know that your rule-following 4th grader will absolutely do what he says and insist that you do, too. Go ahead. Join in. It’s as fun as it always was and the burners are doing it, too.
(6) Anything you tell your tween, they will already know, and will respond with a little I know slash eye roll ditty. They are just warming up for when they turn 12, and are certain that you actually know nothing.
(7) At 10:00pm on a Friday (after a day of school and swimming lessons) your child may wrongfully assume that when you are tired, you just leave the concert and go home. This may result in your child reminding you, in a loud voice, how to best take care of them. You may even bend down and whisper how much their seat cost in their ear, and tell them to do their best to suck it up and enjoy it. Or, that might just be me.
(8) In the morning, after telling you how much they loved the rock concert and that they knew every song and that it was “amazing,” they very well could still choose to sing Maroon 5 songs all day. It will slowly begin to kill you. Just remind yourself that you hold the credit card and they can make you take them to Maroon 5. You are not that good of a parent, and your child should know that by now.
(9) When it all comes down to it, it is okay to go back on the promise you made the night before: to never take them to a rock concert, ever again. It is also okay to apologize because you might have said that out loud.
I have hope that Emma will remember just about as much as I do about my first concert. I remember our seats. I remember their voices. I remember being a part of something bigger than myself. And I remember my parents caring about me so much, that they were sure to bring me along.