Open Letter: Parents, Bring Your Kids to The Concert
Dear Moms, Dads, Aunts, Uncles, etc,
Is there a band or artist coming to town that you and your kids love? Are you nervous about bringing them? I understand the concerns. Depending on the band, the crowd could get rowdy.
I get it. I've seen it.
I've seen bloodied drunk guys get kicked out of venues. I've seen joints being passed around between strangers. I've seen crazy mosh pits. I've experienced crowd surfers who had no business getting up there and either hurting themselves or others.
One thing I can say in full confidence. Every time I've witnessed these things, there were no kids around.
That being said, I've been to a lot of shows where kids were present and those shows have always been unforgettable in the best way possible.
I almost always try to be near the front which at many shows is crowded. Here in Maine, the Darling's Waterfront Pavilion, in particular, can fill up very quickly when it's set up as a GA pit. If a parent has braved the crowd with their kiddo, people have always been super respectful. One really cool moment was last year at Impact Fest.
It was a single dad and his son. The festival was a two-day long event. After day one of seeing a handful of bands the inevitable happened. The kid needed to use the bathroom. Not an easy feat in a crowd of that size. Especially after miraculously making it near the rail. That's when the camaraderie really showed. A woman, I'm guessing in her 50's spoke up from the VIP side of the barrier. She worked for the venue and had taken the night off to attend the show. She then escorted the little guy to the VIP bathrooms. Other concert-goers helped pass the kid back and forth between the woman and his father. It was something so simple yet so cool to witness.
That festival had Five Finger Death Punch as one of the headliners. Now, if you're not familiar with the band, I'm sure your first thought is, "That certainly doesn't sound like a kid-friendly show!"
I'll tell you one thing when you see heavy rockers like Ivan Moody and the rest of the band bring a dozen kids on stage for an unforgettable experience and then proceed to gift them all an item; a necklace, a t-shirt, drumstick, etc., the hardness and the brashness completely melts away. I snagged this clip, f-bomb and all you can see some of the kids rocking their new swag. I dare you not to be charmed.
Later that same summer Breaking Benjamin came to Darling's Waterfront Pavilion. They had a really special VIP package where people could literally be on stage with the band throughout the entire show. It wasn't cheap by any means but the ultimate experience for any fan.
A couple of songs in, lead singer, Benjamin Burnley started plucking kids from the crowd and with help from event staff, kids and their parents joined those VIPers for the remainder of the show. You can see them on stage here, some with drumsticks that the band gave them.
Last night I found myself at the State Theater in Portland. I placed myself up in front with two kids standing in front of me on the rail. I was happy to know no one would be blocking my sight. Mom and dad were next to me. They had traveled from two hours north for the show. A Christmas present for the kids. Immediately one of the photographers noticed them and grabbed guitar picks for them from the opening band's guitarist. The event staff went out of their way to tell the parents that if the crowd becomes too much they'll let the kids sit with them in front of the rail. Honestly, this was just above and beyond customer service. (Shout out to R&R Event Services.)
The next band, From Ashes to New, noticed these kids and others and let them come in front of the rail for a song. They then encouraged other kids to come up and boy did they.
Kids poured in and then the band welcomed them on stage. It became kid city up there in that sold-out theater. Most kids looked between 7 and 11 years old. Again, witnessing the contrast of loud rocking music against the joy and innocence of children was spectacular to see. Check it out below and see how the kids quickly fill up the stage:
When Skillet was about to hit the stage some other kids appeared nearby and we adjusted letting them in front of us assuring their parents who couldn't fit, "We got 'em!" A few songs in, lead singer, John Cooper came up to the rail to high five the crowd. People became pushy looking to make contact. That was when I and another woman, a complete stranger, and the original kids' parents stood strong creating a barrier around the little ones. I don't even think they knew what was going on behind them.
One boy said to his mom afterward, "He sweated on me! It was awesome!" to which she responded with a chuckle, "Boys are so gross."
All this to say, bring your kids to the show as long as you're comfortable with the lyrical content. They could be in for a once in a lifetime unforgettable experience. Is this guaranteed? Of course not. Is safety guaranteed? Nope. But what I can speak to is my experience. There are some wonderful people at these shows. When you love a band you share a bond. In those nights, at those moments, you find family.
Rock on fam,