Friday, April 11, 2008

Rock concerts, how young is too young?

Time to put my 'cranky old guy' hat on and ask you a question.
Sometimes I refer to it as my 'concerned parent' hat, but crank old guy will do in a pinch.
How young is too young to let you kids go to a concert by themselves or with friends their age?

I say 18.

Before you fire up your computers to tell me I am indeed a cranky old guy and I should let my high school freshman go to any concert he wants to, let me give you a little background.

Back when gasoline was under a buck and the minimum wage was under $3.35 an hour, I spent every penny I had on concert tickets. Bad Company, Van Halen with David lee Roth, then Sammy Hagar, Judas Priest, Metallica, Ozzy, Dio, you name them, if they came to Northern California, I saw them. Being a rather big guy, I always could make my way to the front. I saw it all, lived through it and bought the t-shirt. I wish I still had some of those shirts today.

I know every generation thinks the one coming behind them is heading straight to Hell, hand basket or not, but I made myself a promise that I wouldn't be 'that dad' who is so out of touch with his children he doesn't know what music they listen to or what is going on on their lives. Some of the music my son listens to is just terrible, both musically and with the message it sends. However, there are some song that we both have on our iPods, many of them are 'my' songs on his playlist, but I do have some of 'his' songs on mine. I know, I know, with Ozzy and Judas Priests, who am I to complain about musical messages.

Two years ago my son wanted to see the Taking back Sunday and Angels and Airwaves show at Arco Arena. I took him. I sat through a few hours of music I didn't like because my son wanted to see what a concert was all about. He had a good time and I kept the drunken twenty-somethings at arms length. I think he understood my point about the opportunity for disaster when you mix thousands of young people with massive amounts of alcohol, pot and a few tweaking meth-heads. I said that there are about fifty things that can happen to you at a concert, six of those are good, the others are not.

Call it what you will, Metal, Punk, Thrash, Indie or generic rock n roll, kids want to see the show when it comes to town, go to school in their concert t-shirt and show their friends the grainy video they shot with their cell phone. I get it. I was just like that in high school, without the cell phone videos, but I also remember keeping some passed out thirteen year old girl from being trampled to death in the pit at a show. If I wasn't able to lift her over the barricade at the front row to the waiting EMTs, her parents would have received the phone call every parent dreads.

So for now he is stuck with me or one of our adult friends that I trust. I'm not talking about a watch my dog this weekend kind of trust, but bring my kid home unharmed trust.

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