Parents, Kids, and Concerts – The Cycle Continues

Last week, I wrote my Tuesday Family post about being embarrassed when I called the band 311 “Three-One-One” and not “Three-Eleven.”  This week, my son attended the 311 concert, and the event triggered yet another moment where I became my parents, even if just for an instant.

The 311 concert, which also included the bands Offspring and Pepper, took place this past Friday at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, a spring/summer outdoor venue near St. Louis where you can get reserved seats or you can sit on the “lawn,” which in this case is simply a very large hill.  My wife purchased 8 tickets for my son and his friends for his birthday, as he turns 15 in less than a week.  (Before you think “wow, that’s an expensive party,” you should know there were price breaks on four-ticket blocks.)

Concerts -- From Dad in 1981 . . .

This wasn’t the first concert our son attended.  In 2008 and 2009, he attended something called “Pointfest,” which is a day/evening long concert event sponsored by 105.7 The Point, a local radio station, at the same Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Both those times, however, a parents of one of his friends spent the day at the concert as a sort of chaperon.  I also took him and two friends to see AC/DC at the Scottrade Center in early 2009.  This time, however, he was going without a chaperon, and that was a bit scary for me.

Going to a concert without a chaperon is certainly not a major milestone in one’s life, such as a bar mitzvah, graduation or driver’s license, but it did cause me to pause to recall my own concert history.  While in high school, I saw Bruce Springsteen twice (The River and then Born in the USA), The Rolling Stones Tattoo You tour, and The Who (1st farewell tour!!).  I also will admit to seeing Journey and The Cars.  All of these concerts were in the old Capital Centre outside Washington, D.C., and none were attended by my parents.

So, as my wife and I sped away after dropping off my son and friends, I had three thoughts.  First, I wondered, “What type of crazy music is this?”  Second, I thought, “Drug dealers are going to descend upon him.”  Third, I realized, “God, I’ve become my parents yet again.”

I really didn’t want to be negative about my son’s music tastes.  His tastes don’t have to mimic mine.  Never mind that I had never heard of 311 or Offspring (again – see last week’s post).  The rosters of the two Pointfests he attended were rife with bands that I had never heard of.  In May 2008, the headliners were Serj Tankian, Shinedown, Killswitch Engage and Filter.  In May 2009, the headliners were Seether, Shinedown (again!), Puddle of Mudd, Bullet for My Valentine, and Apocalyptica.  For me, these don’t have the same cache as Bruce Springsteen or The Who.  At least my parents knew who they were when I attended those bands’ concerts.

. . . to Son in 2010

But, in doing research for this post, I also looked at the roster for the first Pointfest in 1993.   Bands I know played:  They Might Be Giants, Midnight Oil, and Aimee Mann (from ‘Til Tuesday).  In 1994, the Violent Femmes and the Smithereens played.  (Wait!  I have their albums.)   The Ramones played in 1995, and Cheap Trick played in 1996.  Most interesting, however, is that 311 played Pointfest in 1994, 1996 and 2000.  I may not know 311 or their music, but there isn’t be any question that they have a following and some staying power.

I decided not to make any assumptions based on ignorance.  I had visions of my grandparents making similar judgments about Elvis or the Beatles.

As far at the drug dealers, I had some legitimate concerns.  In my concert-going days, I had experienced witnessed joints being passed up and down rows.  Then at the AC/DC concert, two guys in front of us lit up what smelled like pot (or so I’m told).   I really didn’t know what to expect last weekend.  This became one of those moments of trust, where, as a parent, you have to assume that you’ve raised your kids well.  I guess my folks trusted me.

Sure enough, when we returned to pick up the kids four hours later, I picked up the scent of pot (or what I’m told is the scent) in the parking lot as we waited.  Our son and his friends emerged and looked no worse for wear.  They were tired and a bit deaf, but not the least bit under the influence of anything.

So the cycle of concerts began anew – from the Stones to the Who to Bruce Springsteen to . . . 311 and the Offspring?  Maybe so.

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It’s Not Three-One-One. It’s Three-Eleven. Who Knew?

I hit an important milestone as a father last week.  It was inevitable, but I was trying to hold it off as long as I could.

As of last week, I am officially and completely out of touch with the music my son listens to, so much so, that I embarrassed myself in front of his friends.

The Band 311

My wife and I bought tickets for our son and friends to attend a concert for his birthday.  Last week, I was driving my son and his friends somewhere (probably to the mall).  Trying to make conversation and trying to show I was cool, I said, “So, you guys are going to see Offspring and Three-One-One next week, right?”

The next thing I know is there is snickering in the back seat, and my son turns to me from the passenger seat and says calmly, “Dad, it’s Three-Eleven.”

How was I supposed to know that the band 311 isn’t Three-One-One, but Three-Eleven?  Couldn’t it have been Three-Hundred-Eleven just as easily?

This had never happened before.  There are no such pronunciation issues with Offspring or Avenged Sevenfold or System of a Down or Gogol Bordello.  There are spelling issues with bands such as Gorillaz, but I never really write these band names down.  There are also odd moments, such as when I asked my son if he knows who Nikolai Gogol was.  No idea of course.

This scene of “dad-trying-to-be-cool-embarrassment” repeats itself generation after generation.  The other night Jay Leno explained how his dad always talked about “The Rolling Beatles.”  Parents of my generation often referred to “Earth, Fire and Wind” or “REO Stationwagon” and were thoroughly confused by the Who, the Guess Who, and Yes.

The closest thing to my gaffe that I recall was when a parent pronounced R.E.M. as one word that rhymes with hem and gem and them.

Led Zeppelin IV

Within days of this happening, however, my son helped me forget my naming mistake and made me very proud.  He came bounding up from our newly renovated basement and said, “Dad, I just played Led Zeppelin through the new speakers on one of your records.  Stairway to Heaven is beast mode.”

That’s right – beast mode.  That’s a very positive comment.  Trust me.  I almost cried.