Rockin’ Together

I used to pay attention to new artists and new music. In a previous life I went to a lot of clubs and concerts, and learned about bands before they were big names. My college roommate – we both started out working in rock’n’roll radio – is still friends with musicians that most people onlyrecord_labels dream of meeting. I met my fair share of rockers, too, knowing I was one of a hundred hands they shook that night, but it was still a thrill for me to have even a quick conversation with someone I’d previously admired on the liner notes of a record album or CD case. (I’ve just dated myself here.)

When the kids came along it wasn’t that I succumbed to Baby Einstein soundtracks (okay, I did a little) but we all know what happens. Time gets sucked away from you with a young swaddled creature in your presence. Less time to nose around your hobbies and follow your personal interests when you’re changing diapers and pureeing sweet potatoes. Less interest in venturing out to a club to hear live music when you know you’ll be up at 6:00 in the morning feeding cheerios to a toddler. And then, it happens: you get out of practice, and you start just listening to the same old bands and artists you always listened to. Your music library gets stale.

I’m not totally stuck in the music of my past. De-facto’s sister occasionally prepares playlists with new(er) artists and sends them to us for Christmas or birthdays. Or when I visiting my old roommate it’s easy to find an unreleased single of a new band, or a pre-release of a favorite artist in her CD player. Another college friend is a curator of new music, and I visit his website, Fingertips, when I have time. When I have time being the operative phrase. Still, my music playlists are seriously outdated.

And then the inevitable happens: I discover a new band, a band that I really like, because of my daughter. My youngest daughter.

Buddy-roo would spend her entire afternoon on YouTube watching music videos if there weren’t a bit of homework discipline employed in this household. When she wants to actually buy a song, she has to get my permission (and my iTunes code) because we share a music library on all our devices. That way I get to listen to (and monitor) what she’s listening to. As you’d expect, she’s into One Direction, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, and I cheerfully encourage her to enjoy that music with her earbuds on, or in the tube_headedprivacy of her own room. But not all of the artists she wants to listen to make me cringe. For instance the hit single, Cool Kids, by a band called Echosmith. Very catchy. It inspired me to download the whole album.

A friend of mine runs a company called Bandsintown, a nifty app that scans your music library and pings you when the musicians you like are playing at a venue in your city. A few weeks ago, it pinged me with news that Echosmith was coming to Barcelona. Buddy-roo saw the notification, and begged me to buy tickets.

I had to think back, what and when was the first rock concert I attended? I was 17 when I went to see Jethro Tull. In a big arena. Buddy-roo is 11. The venue was a medium-sized club – just right for seeing up-and-coming bands. But would they even let her in?

It is a miracle that we survived before the Internet. Some quick clicking informed me that underage kids could attend the concert, if accompanied by a parent. The ticket price was palatable, the club close enough to walk to from our apartment. The show was even on a Friday night. No school to contend with the next day. So why not?

Buddy-roo watched me book the tickets and danced around the apartment in ecstasy for ten consecutive minutes after the transaction was completed. Hard to say what was better, her anticipation running up to the event, or actually watching her experience the show, last Friday, when we turned up in time to have a Fanta (okay I had a beer) at the bar before the band started.

When the band came on stage, the crowd raised their smartphones, forming a complex constellation of glowing mini-screens in place of the swarm of bic lighters we used to hold up in the air. Buddy-roo jumped up and down, cupping her hands over her face, reminiscent of images of young girls screeching at an early Beatle’s concert. Not that it was Buddy-roo’s first time in a rock club. One of her extra-curricular activities, when we lived in Paris, was a rock band school, and she performed with her band at the year-end concert. She’s seen live music before, part of the entertainment at the creativity conferences we drag her to. But this was the first time she got see one of her favorite bands, the real deal, live in concert.
Short-pants stayed home. Not that she doesn’t love music – she’s a huge Neil Diamond fan, thanks to De-facto‘s influence (that didn’t come from me) – but she’s not much for crowds and loud music. She saw it as an opportunity for a quiet night to herself, and no doubt spent the bulk of the night reading, and playing word and math games on her iPad. De-facto came along with us to the concert, too, and sat on a banquette in the back of the club, watching Buddy-roo and I dance together closer to the stage. Not that he didn’t like the music. He did. And he was happy to discover this little club so close to home. But I think he wanted to give us a chance to share the music, mother and daughter. I don’t know how long she’ll be keen to go a concert with her mother, so I’ll rock it with her as long as I can.

5 Responses to “Rockin’ Together”

  • Betty Shamas Says:

    So reminded me of the time I took Tricia and six friends to see PRINCE at the Lakeland Arena….we all wore purple, stood on our chairs the entire concert…and Tricia nudged me and said “he looked right at me”. Enjoy these precious moments…and have a wonderful summer.

  • Andy Parker Says:

    Sweet story. There’s a wonderful essay at NPR from a few years back about the impossibility of keeping up with new music, even via a curated site. There’s just too much being created. You couldn’t keep up of you tried. When we were young-er, it was possible. That’s part of how we were able to. I know, small comfort.

    I remember when I began to lose my ability to keep up with what was being released. That’s when I began subscribing to CMJ, and a defunct CD music service called InRadio. These days I rely on all manner of “best music of __” articles from various sites to point me in new directions. I’ll add Fingertips to that list. And give Echosmith a listen. Thank you.

    Still I miss a lot. Last week Dave Letterman retired, with Foo Fighters, closing the show with Everlong, an amazing tune I’d never heard. I have since played it close to 100 times.

    My first concert was to see the Jazz fusion group Weather Report. I was 15. In two weeks Sweets is going to see Taylor Swift. That’ll be her first, at 13. A friend’s dad offered to chaperone, saving me the $160 ticket (!!!). Last week Bud (18), went to see Styx and Foreigner. Crazy. He was surprised I knew all their songs. Too funny!

    All of these are part of the long arc of transition–for us–that we’ll move through with them in lightning speed as they become adults (gulp). Short-pants staying home is part of that. Soon she won’t be staying home. She’ll already have made other plans. I’m already there. Bud is frigging 18! Savor everything, MD. Everything.

  • Betsy Says:

    This is so fabulous, M. I love imagining you two rockin’ and groovin’ to the same beats! I’m checking the Echosmiths out now! I can completely relate to your disconnect from the new music scene—I’ve felt this especially since moving to Europe, where I have this sneaking suspicion that I’m always getting up on things a bit late…and I still haven’t figured out where to find the GOOD new stuff from Europe…the not-so-trendy radio stuff…Since I’ve become a podcast junkie, I have started listening religiously to the NPR All Songs Considered podcast…I’m sure you already know it. But in particular, I like the annual roll-downs of the top picks from the year (under various themes over several weeks) during the weeks around New Years. You can go back pretty far to download archived shows. I too lost my touch with new music, but this has brought me back to what’s new, unusual, or unique out there. There are of course some shows/bands I’m not at all interested in. But every so often, I find myself jotting down notes and even buying a new album on iTunes! (most recently: the bands Lord Hyron and Ibeyi). Good stuff! Music is so essential.

  • Catriona Says:

    My girls’ first live concert was lady gaga – with me. Now one of them is going to 3 day festivals in Belgium – without me. Goes quick!

  • Lee Dunne Says:

    What special music thing might Buddy-roo like for her birthday from nanny- poo trying to be hip??

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