The Kids Are Alright

7 Aug

The band's name is from Don DeLillo's "White Noise" ... but you knew that already

When parents have their eyes on a prize for their kids, their behavior is too often a disgrace. They scream at soccer coaches. They trample dozens of other shoppers to get their hands on Tickle Me Elmo. They demand that an Ivy League school admit their famous daughter without application.

I nearly decked a fourteen-year old for a drumstick and a set  list.

After many months of anticipation, my older daughter and I went to  see The Airborne Toxic Event at the Majestic. We’ve been fans of the band since we first heard their single, “Somewhere Around Midnight,” a couple of years ago. That song gives new meaning to the words romantic, obsessive and haunting. It was unlike anything I’d heard and it stops my heart every time I hear it. Check it out!

Any time  we go to a show together, my daughter worries she’ll be the youngest person in the audience; I fear I’ll be the oldest. Fortunately, this was a  general admission, all ages show, and it truly was all ages: teens,  twenty-somethings, twenty-was-a-long-time-ago-somethings. This was the first  time I’ve stood close to the stage in many a year. I think the last time was in  1983 when my friends and I sat outside the Hampton Coliseum for hours to get a  good spot on the floor for David Bowie’s Serious Moonlight tour. (I spent the last half of the concert with a woman’s butt  in my sight line; she convinced her boyfriend to hoist her to his shoulders so she could shout, “David, I’m your China Girl!!!”)

Oh baby, just you move out of the way so I can see the show!

Doors opened at eight and we were forced to share our personal space with several  hundred fellow fans and their beer bottles for an hour before the opening band came on for their sound check. The flow of the crowd separated me from my daughter, and I was wedged next to a pack of seven teenagers; one of them soon leaned against me to better chat with her friends, her pony tail flicking insouciantly in my eye.

As if I needed more proof that I was considered a nuisance by those born during the Clinton administration, a girl in a klatch of kids to my left turned to me and said, “Could you move back a couple of steps so I can move my arms up and down?” My own arms were tight against my body, protecting my brand new concert satchel that we bought at Target on the way downtown so I wouldn’t shame my daughter by bringing a purse ever again. “I’m a little hemmed in myself,” I said civilly; “I’ll see what I can do.” The girl turned away with a sniff, and I was invisible once more.

The concert was AMAZING! Great show, fantastic material, and lead singer Mikel Jollett got close enough to perspire on me when he came down into the crowd. They played three covers during their encore and I was impressed to see so many kids in the audience singing every word of “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Never thought taking strings in elementary school could lead to a rock career ...

Once the show was over, the drummer and viola player—yep, my second concert this year seeing a band featuring a violist—came to the lip of the stage to greet the fans. The drummer eyed my section of the crowd, dipped down and offered up his stick and set list.

My hand  was on them like a vise. My daughter had mentioned several times that  evening how she wanted a set list as a souvenir, and here it was. The others could have the stick; I wanted the paper to slip off into my fist so I could hand it triumphantly over to my daughter. As I struggled, I realized the girl who asked me to stand back so she could have more elbow room was one of the contenders—and she wasn’t going to share.

“Let go!” she whined. “He gave it to me! Why won’t you let go?”

I had to ask myself the same question.

What gift should I give my daughter: a  set list winnable only via a fist fight with a teenager, or a lesson in  magnanimity? I let go, patted the girl on the back and said, “Here you are–enjoy.”

So in summary, the lessons I learned that evening were:

  1. The  Airborne Toxic Event is incredible in every possible way. GET TO KNOW THIS  BAND!
  2. As cool as Converse are, standing for five hours at a general admission concert requires a shoe with better arch support
  3. Encourage younger fans’ discovery of great music … even if they’re obnoxious
  4. A concert is an ephemeral experience, so the best souvenir is sharing the memories with someone you love who went with you; and
  5. Take care of your concert satchel

See you on the flip side…and here’s more of TATE!

2 Responses to “The Kids Are Alright”

  1. marmaladefille April 27, 2012 at 12:28 am #

    Thanks for turning me on to this band. They’re great. And…you were very noble to sacrifice that set list.


  1. LP on 45 - May 22, 2013

    […] will always have a special place in my heart because my daughter and I discovered them together. We’ve seen them three times; we have […]

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