Monday, March 14, 2016

That Time I Spoiled My Child for Every Concert in Her Future

Here’s the good news: I finally got my hearing back. It took a few days for the ringing to end, and, in that time, I read a lot about a thing called tinnitus. But now I can hear again. Though let’s be honest, I haven’t heard very well for years – just ask my wife.

The bad news: I’ve ruined my recently-turned teenager for every concert she attends from now on until the end of time, short of some show where she gets actual front row seats and backstage passes.

We didn’t get front row seats or backstage passes when we went to see Fall Out Boy as a birthday gift and her first real concert ever about a week ago. But our seats were good. Very good.

I’ve been going to concerts my whole dang life, and these were the best seats I’ve ever had. Ever.

Usually, I’m a lawn seat kind of guy. Occasionally I’ll end up somewhere in the rafters, depending on the venue and the demand for the artist. A few times, when I was a bit younger, I went and fought the general admission crowds – that’s how I got briefly in the front of the mob for a Spin Doctors’ song. They were opening for one of those multi-band tours, I believe, and my moment in the sun ended when the mosh pit shifted and convulsed and spit me out ten bodies back.

One time I got into a luxury box for a show at the Cap Centre: Beastie Boys, I recall. (I didn’t pay for those tickets). That was a heck-of-a long time ago. Pretty cool way to watch a show, but not very close to the stage. Kind of subdued, really.
Fall Out Boy, Wintour Is Coming, March 2016, Syracuse.
Our recent trip to see Fall Out Boy was anything but subdued. We were close. Damn close. Too close, almost. Too close for my ears, for sure. But also too close for my daughter’s first real concert ever and for her concert-going sense of perspective. I think I definitely may have spoiled her.
These weren’t front row seats, mind you. And when I bought them, I had no idea how good the tickets were. The seats were off to one side of the stage and five rows back. Which, I figured would be just okay. They weren’t all that expensive, either. But, considering the angles and slope of the rows, the seats turned out to be the absolute perfect distance and height for the stage setup FOB uses on this tour – which is a giant V that cuts into the crowd, including elevated ramps literally a few yards from our screaming faces.
It wasn’t until we walked through the guarded doors to our section, stepped through the black curtain and up a few steps that we realized how absolutely, ridiculously close we were to the action -- and to the gigantic speakers. My daughter gasped with an “OMG” or something hipper and more recent that I couldn’t decipher; then she hugged the friend she’d brought along, while my eardrums let out a little whimper.
She’s ruined for sure. She doesn’t understand that most people don’t get to be that close, or that most times you attend a concert you’re better off looking at the Jumbotron if you want to see the sweat rolling down the bassist’s face. She’s liable to think that at every concert you’re able to count the strings on the guitar, feel the heat from the pyrotechnics, and read the tattoos on the drummer’s chest.
She’s totally screwed. More likely, every person who ever attends a concert with her again is screwed. Every person who ever calls her and says, I scored some ticket to some show. I can hear it now: “This is great, but one time we were like practically on the stage for a Fall Out Boy concert.”
It didn’t hurt that the band put on a great performance, mixing an array of their hits with lesser known but equally solid songs. It also didn’t hurt that the sold-out crowd, filled with teens, their formerly-cool parents, and tons of people in-between, soaked it up and sang along like it was the last concert on earth. And, for a few hours, it did feel like the center of the modern rock-n-roll universe.
For the record, my daughter was there.
But you know what else? I was there to witness it.
I did spoil my daughter that night. And I also saw a great show – probably the best I’ve seen since I saw Springsteen or the Stones more than a decade ago in DC. What I’ll remember, though, isn’t the sweat or the sound, but the look of joy on her face, the excitement with which she belted her favorite band’s songs, the tears she shed when they played that one ballad she loves so much, and the number of times her and her friend jumped and screamed and sang because that’s all they wanted to do.
Isn't that why we occasionally spoil our kids? Because we want them to be happy? Because we want to see them happy? That night, she was happy.
And you know what, maybe it won’t ruin her at all. Maybe, after this, she’ll be determined to fill her heart and her head with equally rewarding experiences, musical and otherwise. Maybe she’ll appreciate the uniqueness and the specialness of this concert, and every one she ever attends. Maybe she’ll look back with a special fondness on her first concert ever, and maybe she’ll remember that her dad was there too.
It’s been a full week since the show. My hearing has more or less returned. My daughter has lost all perspective. And I don’t regret any of it.

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