Monday, June 7, 2010

Children of All Ages

One of the most interesting and heated debates I have participated in is whether or not you should bring your kids to a show. This subject is amazingly divisive and has brought out the intensity usually saved for political bickering.

The events that took place recently at Furthur Festival, specifically the story regarding the mother nearly passed out with her child still attached to the “leash device”, would be an extreme case against. I might as well start here. If this is you…not only do you not deserve to be at the show, you do not deserve to be a parent. Still, I find it difficult to use this example to argue against bringing a child to a show, as there were probably issues with this family arrangement long before a ticket was purchased. Responsible parents keep kids out of harms way.

Another argument that I have actually heard is that children present at a show limit people’s ability to have a good time. As we were walking back to our car last year after Alpine Valley my son and I were discussing the chances of him seeing a Tweezer the next year. I overheard a couple of guys saying…”Oh…wait…[hisssss] wait dude, there’s a kid….” as we walked by. If your guilt overcomes you because you don’t want to be seeing huffing nitrous, then that doesn’t really fall on my parenting. That falls on your huffing. My son would never intrude on anyone’s concert activities because we have had numerous discussions on appropriate behavior. What good is it to lecture and advise your kids on what not to put in your their bodies if you can’t expose them to public places and public events? How can you advocate restraint if you can’t show them by example?

When we go to an amusement park, all we want to do is ride the rides. However, there is a little more to it than that. You have to endure lines, heat, poor attitudes of low paid park employees, foul language, and rude behavior. All of this for a 3 minute coaster ride. Sharing the Phish experience with your kid is not that much different. Actually, it’s a little easier. Planning and preparation, just like anything else, plays a huge part in making a successful, fun weekend.

My favorite comment has little to no basis in reality. It goes like this: “Your kid doesn’t deserve to be here [or]…doesn’t belong here”. OK. Stop reading. Go get your tickets and take a look at them. I’ll wait.

Do you see where it says ‘All Ages’?

There’s a pretty good chance that includes my 11 year old, too. While many fans will be texting the setlist, wandering the venue, waiting in the beer line, or heading for the bathroom, he and I will be right there in the moment, enjoying the spectacle and hoping like hell that Piper will drop into Tweezer. Who is to say that he doesn’t love it just as much as you do?
We are raising a second and third generation of Phish fans. The fanbase as a whole is growing older, and that means a fanbase with a much more varied age. I am extremely thankful that a new generation of fans that were my son’s age during the hiatus is now able to finally experience this music in a live setting. There is really nothing like sharing something you love. I would never endorse breastfeeding an infant a few feet away from Fishman’s riser, but taking the right precautions for a show here and there can make for great memories of summer vacation. Grant families at Phish a wide berth if you must, but also grant them the respect of a fellow fan.


  1. Here here . Why is this, or how is this different than any public gathering(sports events , festivals ) ...and if I pay for a ticket for kid he has every right to be there and boogie . Nicely put Jiggs . Hope your kid gets that Tweezer !!

  2. My son told his preschool teacher that he was going to Phish this morning. He's not and now I feel bad. Maybe next summer will be year.

  3. As a parent and show veteran, I would never bring my child to a show for one simple reason: drugs. I don't care how old they are, a child should never be in an environment where they're breathing in copious amounts of pot smoke. That's fine if you're an adult, but small children shouldn't ever be subjected to it, no matter what other benefits of going to shows are.


  5. I have 2 children ages 4 and 12. I recently brought my oldest to his first show which happened to be Festival 8. We had a great time. I have outgrown the need to get too crazy at the shows since I am older so there was no problems. I had a few drinks and danced with my son all weekend! I do however feel that the child should be a certain age. Babies out all day in the extreme heat bothers me. But as long as the parent is responsible, go for it! I am so glad I went to my first show when I was 18. Now I can share my experiences with them.

  6. I agree with Amy. There is a certain age for the child. I'm going to say it's probably around 10. It's at that age that they start to know music and learn to love music (other than whatever the most popular person of the week is). They're also old enough to understand drugs and what they can do to someone.

    That said, I'm with Anonymous to a degree. If you're outside, it's one thing. They're not breathing in tons of smoke and there's usually room to spread out and separate from the crowd to protect your child. In an amphitheatre, that means the lawn. At festivals, you can hang out in back or to the side. The problem comes with indoor shows. There's nowhere for the smoke to go but up and you can't exactly pick your seats to make sure you've got upper deck (though they usually don't check tickets up there, so if you get in the door, you can hang out up top). Behind the stage is also a good area because it's less crowded, and that means less smoke too.

    I shared this on Twitter. At Great Woods last year, a little kid came up to me and started talking to me. Couldn't have been older than 5. I learned his father was 2 rows back looking for a joint he dropped. That's the kind of person who should NOT be bringing their kid to the show. Not to mention, the kid was in the super crowded pavilion.

  7. Ok. The parents that are letting their pre-school age kids run free at shows, or the ones that are getting wasted around their kids ANYWHERE.... These show a much bigger problem than just being around drugs at a show. I will be taking my 13 yr old to her first show. But she has been exposed to drugs and worse at school already. Plus! She will have her own friends and a cell phone. I think its about having a logical approach to the whole situation. Now we are only going to ACL fest, which will be a lot more tame than a Phish show. But I also think that will be a less overwhelming introduction to the "scene" for her too. Anyway... parents who make bad decisions will have kids that do the same. (usually) And its not up to anyone else to make those decisions but us. So be smart about it people. And dont automatically hate on the parents. I would like to hope that most of us are discussing the possibilities of what we might see at a show with the kids. And would never put them into an uncomfortable situation. Or at least stay in the right frame of mind to be able to take them out of one.

  8. I went to 11 shows with friends in 2009 starting with Hampton and had a freaking blast all over the East. One of my favorites, for many reasons, was Merriweather with my 5 year old daughter. Showed up and strolled in as the opener was playing and found many other parents on the back left of the lawn - it was a cool scene and for once I didn't miss the front 20 rows. I'm taking both kids to Merriweather this year for one night. I think a lot of it has to do with the venue and your parenting skills. The venue is key (and no, i wont take either of them to an inside show.... Those are for dad ;). If you are taking your children to truly share the experience with them, then that can be great. If you are taking them because you can't find a babysitter or you spent your babysitting cash on Molly, then no, you shouldn't take them.

    My daughter loved her first show - at the Baltimore aquarium we say a sloth earlier that day and i told her "it was a sign, after close to 20 years, Daddy is going to get his sloth!". And i did ;). To this day she screams "hood!" when she hears the first two notes and is always asking for that "ebeneezer song".

    Stay sober, give them lots of water and glowsticks, and watch the Sparkle in their eyes.

  9. OK KIDS...

    Just go here to see why you should bring your kids along...

    How our 3 1/2 year old and 7 month old experienced the Gorge....

    Just don't be a bad parent and it's well worth it! A LOT OF HARD WORK BUT WELL WORTH IT!

    He's gonna be a genius anyway!

    See y'all at Hartford, SPAC and THE GREEK this Summer!

  10. After a long internal debate, my husband and I are bringing our 6 month old to Greatwoods. We bought VIP box seats (no wasted fans walking past us in the aisles) and sound cancelling headphones. I bought earplugs and earband in case he wont tollerate the headphones.

    My reasoning is that he goes where we go. We are a family. We will put his happiness and comfort above ours, of course. We have access to a VIP lounge and if he gets upset, my husband and I will take turns hanging out with him there. The boxes also have a wait staff, so smoking pot is more restricted. Our plan is well though through. Since 1996 when I saw a mama dancing with her baby, I dreamed of that being me someday. Then Phish broke up. Then we had fertility problems.

    Phish announced thier comeback and we went to all 3 shows at hampton. A few weeks later, and pot 6 unsuccessful infertility treatments, we got pregnant on our own. 2.5 years after first trying, I was pregnant. He went to 6 shows in utero.

    Great Woods will be a dream come true, 14 years in the making. It will be a celebration of life and joy. And of course, I will be 100% sober and attending to every need...and perhaps breastfeeding a few feet from Fishman's riser. ;)

  11. Thanks for reading and thanks for all the comments.

  12. Seriously you people are a mess. Clean yourselves up. Stop forcing your lifestyle on children. This is bad parenting plain and simple. But good work justifying it to yourselves. I mean the ticket does say "all ages" that must be what is right to do. Just a bunch of sheep being led by a different shepherd.