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Question: Should cool moms and dads bring their young kids to concerts?

I spent all last Saturday as the MC of the Sound of Music Festival in Burlington, Ontario. Backstage was a lovely, calm refuge for all the acts, many of whom brought their families. A number of sub-5-year-olds spent the day running around the compound.

When it came time for Daddy to perform (there were no women musicians on the bill), the kids were seen side stage with industrial strength hearing protection over their little skulls. Kinda cute, really.

And it wasn’t just backstage. Every time I wandered through the crowd, I saw dozens of families enjoying the day–and that included more young (sub-10-years-old) kids everywhere. I also saw more than a few babes in arms.

Is this good thing? Is there an argument for getting a babysitter and leaving the sprogs at home? Or is this a great bonding experience?

This essay from Complex argues the former.

A few months ago I was at a music festival in Cincinnati, Ohio, and about to watch one of my favorite bands, The National, perform one of my favorite albums, Boxer, from front to back. I somehow talked my way into the VIP section, squeezing into a sweet spot just off stage left. I had hit the bathroom a few minutes earlier, followed up with a quick stop at the booze tent for some red wine. I was set, fully prepared for what was sure to be one of the prime shows of my life.

Then I looked to my right and saw a guy holding his daughter, who I’m guessing was about 3. It was an adorable sight — he was clearly thrilled to share this special moment with his kid, and the little tyke gurgled excitedly while playfully pulling at the headphones that her daddy had preemptively placed over her ears to protect her hearing. How thoughtful!

Aw, that’s so sweet, I thought to myself. It’s so heartwarming to see this, though I can’t help noting that an even better way to protect your child’s hearing is to leave her at home. Also, it’s almost 9 p.m. — why isn’t she in bed? Didn’t you notice those bros smoking weed over there? My god, how irresponsible are you for exposing an innocent child to this, you monster? P.S. I hate you. Love, Steve.

As a concertgoer, my biggest pet peeve is when some cool dad or mom brings a small child to a show. Because kids don’t belong there! A kid at a rock show makes me feel self-conscious about the things I like to do at rock shows — drink, swear, scream my head off, dance awkwardly. But as a parent, I really loathe this practice.

Read on. I have a feeling there might be some strong opinions on this one.

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.

Alan Cross has 38040 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

3 thoughts on “Question: Should cool moms and dads bring their young kids to concerts?

  • I’ve been bringing my now 12-year-old daughter to concerts since she was 6. It helped foster her love of music and the strong bond she and I share over our mutual love of same. She also now fronts her own band. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I joked with her a few months ago when Jesse Bivona, the drummer for The Interrupters, handed his sticks to a 6 or 7-year-old standing with his dad not far from us, “Aw, you’re not the cute young kid at the concert anymore.” She said, “I had my turn, now it’s someone else’s.”

  • Yes. Just make sure (a) they have the special headphone-type ear plugs, and (b) look for signs that it’s time to leave, even if the concert isn’t over

  • This is a bit of a tough one for me. I remember some 40 odd years ago, your uncle (my father) playing in a band or DJ’ing weddings, socials and other parties. If the band was playing I would run around with the other rugrats of the band members, or if my dad was just DJ’ing I would sleep at the back of the stage. Sound proof headphone definiately were not used, granted though the volume wasn’t pushed higher than 11 either.

    By all means take the munchkins,and like Dave suggests just use proper hearing protection for them, and keep in mind courtesy for other concert goers and don’t let you children wreck someone else’s concert experience. Added to that try to judge how your child will react to what the see or hear. The last thing you want is a child waking up with night terrors or using words that would make a truck driver blush. So a folk feast is likely a certainty, while a Slayer concert should probably wait till their teens.


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