Tips From the Road: Kids at Shows

My friends and I joke that as punk rockers, you either have no children or more kids then you need. I fall into the latter category with four hellions: two boys (12 and 10) and

My friends and I joke that as punk rockers, you either have no children or more kids then you need. I fall into the latter category with four hellions: two boys (12 and 10) and two girls (8 and almost 7.) My oldest son falls on the mild end of the Autism spectrum and doesn’t care for music as it’s too much auditory stimulation for him. It broke my heart in the beginning, but I’ve accepted it over the years. My younger three kids definitely caught my music bug and I started taking them to shows here and there about two years ago. I also recently had a heated discussion with a woman in a group about taking children to shows, so I thought maybe I should talk about my experiences here for people who are on the fence.

Tip #1: Keep It Simple

The first show that I tested with the kids was a free Sunday concert in the park in the Pittsburgh area. It also just so happened to be Toots and the Maytals, who are a staple at my house. This was perfect as an experiment, because first of all…. it was free. So if it turned out to be a complete disaster, no money wasted. It was also in a huge field so the kids could run around and play and not be a burden on other people. I was able to pick up a couple pizzas in route and we spread out a blanket and ate while we waited for the music to start. Over all it went fairly well. The kids tired out about halfway through the set and we packed up early to head out, but they had a blast dancing along to the tunes.

Tip #2: Do Your Research

The next show that I attempted did not have the same results. We went to Mr Smalls to catch RatBoy, Masked Intruder, and the Interrupters. My kiddos were beyond excited and had been waiting for this since Christmas morning. We hung out to the side, far enough away from the pit to keep the kids safe, but that did not stop some woman from shoving my daughter out of her way to get closer to the stage once Masked Intruder started. As she passed, she caught an elbow to the gut from me (yes, I’m immature) and words from a guy standing next to us. I moved the kids further away from the chaos and this guy’s group surrounded them so that wouldn’t happen again. It was worse for the Interrupters so we bailed. We went and hung out at the merch area where I could still see and my kids could have shirts and posters thrown at them like they were royalty. Seriously guys… People would walk up to them and ask them which shirt they wanted! wth? HUGE shoutout to Brock, who ran the Interrupters merch table cos he was amazing with my kids and called them his security.

The silver lining of that show is that we were told to stick around afterward. We got in line with other families and anyone else who may have had a harder time seeing the show, such as individuals in wheelchairs. Then we got to meet them!! They were the nicest group of people and took a picture of us in our matching shirts that were made by a small business artist. It was a fun night and had an amazing outcome, but it definitely was not a great show for kids. Had I gone back and read comments left by other people about previous shows, like I did later, I would have had a better idea of what to expect.

Tip #3: Be Prepared

This includes bringing snacks, drinks, candy, etc when allowed and never forgetting ear plugs. Most venues typically offer them, but it helps just to keep a few pairs in your glove box. In my opinion, if your kids don’t go to shows often, then ear plugs are just fine. But, if they frequently tag along, then it’s probably best to invest in some better quality, noise-muffling headphones. It’s also crucial to occupy them before, during, and after the show. The last thing you want is for the band to play your favorite song and your kid is over it all and wants to leave. At Camp Anarchy last summer there was a guy with a young boy on his shoulders with a squirt gun and a bunch of straws connected together so he could reach his drink. That kid had a blast shooting the crowd, we appreciated the brief spray to cool down, and that dad got to enjoy the Suicide Machines properly. Though I’ve had kids on my shoulders during shows and you feel that shit hard the next day. I hope that guy read this cos he’s my hero!!!

Do you see this shit?!

Tip #4: Be Responsible

This one is kinda duh, but worth a mention. There was a reason that I did not take my kids with me to Camp Anarchy. I wanted to act stupid, dance to my favorite bands, barely sleep, and live on water and oranges. None of that would have been possible with little watchful eyes, constant potty breaks, starving bellies, and grumpy attitudes. Therefore, I left them at home and acted like a child myself for three days. It rarely happens. Cut me some slack. This is a great community and people have always looked out for each other in my experience, but it is not their job to keep your children safe. That’s on you so please act accordingly.

So should you take your kids to shows?? Absolutely. Just start small, know your kiddos (and your own!) limitations, and be prepared to bail if necessary. Just like as adults, not every show is gonna be a winner, but I promise you will create lasting memories either way!!!

Anyone have anything to add to this to make life easier?? Please… tell us!!!!

2 thoughts on “Tips From the Road: Kids at Shows

  1. My best advice is to know the lay of the land!
    I found venues with a upstairs balcony worked wonders when I brought my kiddo to her first show. I brought her to see the same show when she was 7 and we were able to stay down in front of the stage for Rat Boy but once Masked Intruders came on we went right upstairs, a man offered his seat to her and she had a blast watching and dancing to the whole show. The party was downstairs while the older folk hung upstairs so a very nice mild crowd who treated her like a queen. I also wanna send a shout out to the merch guy from Interrupters who took time to chat with her and even gave her a free pin!

    1. Thats great advice, Terry! Sounds like your kiddo had a blast at the show! Mine still talk about it and Rat Boy is my son’s favorite band now.

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