“Am I Too Old to Go to Rock Shows?”

My wife found this at NPR.com and thoughtfully (?) forwarded it to me. Comments welcome.

Michaela writes via email: “I’m growing increasingly conscious of being among the oldest attendees at concerts lately. Is there a specific age at which I should stop going to indie-rock shows and just stay at home in my rocker?”

You can read NPR’s answer here, but if you want to know what I think, I say f**k ageing. If you still get a thrill from seeing a live gig (and you can handle the late nights, something that becomes increasingly difficult the older you get), go for it. Just remember to protect whatever hearing you have left. And I’d think twice about heading into the pit.

It used to be that rock was the domain of the chronologically young, mainly because it was invented by youth. But now that several generations have grown up as rockers, the “if-it’s-too-loud-you’re-too-old” trope doesn’t apply the same way it once did. Who says there should be a best-before date on someone’s musical tastes?

I don’t go to as many shows as I used to–see the reference to late nights above–but when I do go, I’m all in. You’ll just find me standing at the back these days rather than up against he barricades.

Anyone else want to weigh in on this? Or are you the kind of person who believes that old people should just stay home and watch NCIS?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

13 thoughts on ““Am I Too Old to Go to Rock Shows?”

  • November 9, 2014 at 8:52 am
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    I am off to see a steampunk concert next week, with my grey beard and middle agedo spread. Going to pay for it the next day. Just have to plan more recovery time the older you get.

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  • November 9, 2014 at 9:04 am
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    Agree. Upside – people will assume you’re a promoter/agent/exec from famous recording company. 🙂

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  • November 9, 2014 at 9:18 am
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    Up until about 5yrs ago, I was still going to raves… and I’m 49 now. As with rock shows, I go for the music, not for a strangers’ approval

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  • November 9, 2014 at 9:41 am
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    I’m 52. I go, I take my kids, and will take my grand kids when the day comes. I no longer head to the front of the stage unless its outdoors and I can hang back a bit.

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  • November 9, 2014 at 9:46 am
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    And this……Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light. ~Dylan Thomas

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  • November 9, 2014 at 10:03 am
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    I go to far fewer rock shows in my 40s than I did when I was in my 20s and 30s, but that’s not solely because of my age. Don’t get me wrong: age IS a factor to some degree. Lack of sleep hits me a lot harder now than it did 20 years ago, as do hangovers!

    But there are other factors, too. I have a day job which requires me to be out the door by about 8:00 AM most days. More importantly, I now have two young children–who, of course, are the top priority for both my time and my money. So it isn’t just that my body doesn’t have much tolerance for late, boozy nights any more. My schedule and my budget don’t have much room for them, either.

    True, you are more likely to have demanding work and family responsibilities as you get older. (You’re also more likely to have health problems as you age, too–which can make rock shows very difficult to pull off.) But these things aren’t universally true, not by any stretch. Some people start families far younger than I started mine. Some people my age have way more money to burn than I do. And not everyone works a 9-5 job, so for some people a show on a Monday or Tuesday night isn’t a problem at all.

    These things aren’t strictly a function of your chronological age. They’re about how your life has unfolded, what cards you have been dealt, and what choices you have made along the way.

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  • November 9, 2014 at 8:01 pm
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    I am 52 and my husband is 46. We went to many, many concerts in our youth, most before we met, but some after. What stopped us from going to rock concerts were our kids. 3 boys take up a lot of time and of course, take precedence over our entertainment (though the boys have been quite entertaining over the years too!) Now the boys are in their teens/early 20’s. We have once again resumed our passion for live shows. We have seen Pearl Jam 3 times recently (Vancouver, Oslo, and Denver), London Grammar. The National, Manchester Orchestra, Kasabian, Banks, and a few others. That’s just in one year and we plan to go to many more. I say, do what you enjoy!

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  • November 9, 2014 at 11:14 pm
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    I’m 42 and I still enjoy cramped clubs and watching today’s 20-somethings express themselves through live music.

    I used to say that as I aged I hoped my favourite bands would offer civilized sit-down shows so I wouldn’t have to be worried about having my teeth knocked out by the inevitable 7-foot-tall drunk dude who always wants to dance all over the people up front. But after seeing my old favourites Sloan in that exact type of setting (tablecloths, servers) and feeling the energy sucked from the room, I could only ever see a band live while standing up and checking for my wallet every half hour or so.

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  • November 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm
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    I am 50 and live in a city north of Toronto and I go out every weekend to the local pub/venues to catch local and touring bands. I never go in the pit anymore as that is just too dangerous for me at my age. But I’ll stand as close as I can to watch the musicians play. I do wear earplugs though when I attend louder shows. Forget about age I say. Music is like a religion to me and every week I go and watch the ‘choir’ speak to me. You’re never too old!

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  • November 10, 2014 at 1:43 pm
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    I agree with everyone here who has argued that “you’re never too old” (points about hearing and mosh-pits notwithstanding). And kudos to those who take their kids to concerts. If I can afford it, I will do the same with my kids when they’re older. They’re only 5 and 2 now, so it will be a little while.

    I do think, though, that a lot of older folks stay away from rock shows for reasons of time and money more than for reasons of age—in my case, it is mostly about money. My budget is tight these days, and I have a lot of commitments and responsibilities that have to come before entertainment.

    I love live music just as much today as I did when I was 30. I just can’t really afford it any more. 🙁

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  • November 10, 2014 at 3:46 pm
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    It’s funny, I recently blogged about this same issue. I’m 41 and I don’t see anything wrong with continuing to go to live shows, as long as it gives you a charge and as long as your body can handle it.

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  • November 10, 2014 at 7:42 pm
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    In my early forties and the first time I felt old was at an all age MGMT concert. Don’t go as often as I used to and I do tend to stand in the back as well. But there are times when you go see a band like Kasabian and you have to gravitate to the stage…..

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  • November 10, 2014 at 11:04 pm
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    Going to shows is what I enjoy doing. Some people like to spend their extra cash on cars, some on travel; for me, it’s concerts. Going to live shows is what I look forward to, and despite feeling a bit out of place at times, I don’t see myself stopping any time soon. I wish I realized the value of noise plugs when I was in my twenties, though!

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