By Dom Cioffi
As I stated in last week’s column, in an effort to inspire my 12-year-old son with his drum lessons, I decided to take him to his first large-scale rock concert.
He’s seen local bands play at smaller venues like farmer’s markets and city parks, but he’s never been to a big-time show. My thought was that the atmosphere, grand scale and live audio would help him see how music can move people. He has no particular aspirations for a career in the musical arts, but I like exposing him to as many positive experiences as possible now that he’s at an influential age.
For his first show, I opted for an outdoor concert at an amphitheater, mostly because I have so many wonderful memories attending festivals when I was a young man. Plus, I knew that expecting him to sit still in an assigned seat for a couple hours might be asking a lot.
I checked the concert schedules several months ago and saw that Dead & Company (the remaining members of the Grateful Dead accompanied by John Mayer) were starting a summer tour and were hitting a nearby venue. I immediately purchased tickets and then dug into my CD collection where I found a dusty copy of the “Grateful Dead’s Greatest Hits.”
That night I popped the CD into my son’s player and gave him a brief explanation about the band’s music and their influence on rock history. Thankfully, after several weeks of listening, he found several songs that he liked.
Prior to the night of the concert, I sat my son down and explained what he should expect to see and experience at the show. I told him it would probably be the biggest crowd he was ever a part of. I also told him that this particular gathering would more than likely feature some interesting characters.
In my younger years I attended several Grateful Dead shows so I’m well-versed in the goings-on at these events. I figured this would be a watered down version given the venue, but I still wanted him to be aware that not everyone would be on their best behavior. My wife has questioned me about bringing him into this environment, but I would rather educate him than try to shield him from the realities of life.
We arrived at the concert venue in plenty of time and made our way to the gates. I could tell my son was a bit overwhelmed because he was walking tight against me, often grabbing my arm as we approached large groups.
We walked through the parking lot “parties,” at which point my son questioned why people would be tailgating before a concert. I told him that tailgating was invented at concerts. He stared quizzically as we passed each group, analyzing the people’s demeanor and conduct.
Once inside, we located a clear spot and spread out a blanket. I explained that, by the time the concert starts, we would be surrounded by people. And sure enough when the first notes were struck, it was a capacity crowd, both inside the amphitheater and on the lawn.
It turned out to be the perfect summer evening, with warm temps, clear skies, and the sun setting just to the side of the venue. My son marveled at the beach balls bouncing through the crowd, the light show from the stage, and the occasional ruckus that would erupt from people having too much fun. At one point I hoisted him onto my shoulders so he could get a clear view. He seemed enamored by everything and genuinely engaged in the music. At one point, out of the corner of my eye, I even caught him swaying to the music. It was a pseudo, half-dance that only a 12-year-old could pull off.
I decided that the post-concert traffic jam was something I didn’t need to relive and he could experience on his own later in life so we left just prior to the end of the show. It didn’t matter. By that point he was tired and sufficiently fulfilled by the experience.
The next morning one of his buddies showed up at our house and within minutes my son was talking about the concert, acting like an authority on such experiences while his friend listened in awe. I smiled as he spoke about our adventure, knowing that those moments would live with him forever.
This week’s film, “Finding Dory,” also features an adventure. In fact, it’s the second adventure the characters in this picture have been involved in. Picking up one year after “Finding Nemo” ended, “Finding Dory” now focuses on locating Dory’s parents, whom she was separated from as a child.
Pixar should be commended for delivering a sequel just as visually stunning and engaging as the first film. Moviegoers of all ages will be enthralled by this picture and delight in the frivolity of its undersea setting and characters.
Check this one out whether you have a youngster with you or not. It’s what summer blockbuster theater-going is all about.
A fishy “A-” for “Finding Dory.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A concerted effort
By Dom Cioffi