This dad will always be a rocker

Parenting is, if nothing else, a long-term series of benchmarks, milestones and notable moments. They range from first smile, first steps and potty-trained up to training bras, first shave and, my favorite, first live rock concert.

Dude, I was a total rocker as a kid. I had the extreme good fortune to grow up within biking distance of Nassau Coliseum (home of the Islanduhs) in New York. Pretty much every band that played Madison Square Garden played Nassau, and it was there in 1978 that I saw my first concert: Kansas. I saw Queen there, Pink Floyd, Rush, Yes, Charlie Daniels … and a dozen or so Dead shows. Back then, tickets were eight or 10 bucks, and you could buy your T-shirt (de rigueur for next day at school) from black-market guys in the parking lot for another 10 bucks.

After moving to Colorado in 1980, I had wonderful venues like Red Rocks, Rainbow Music Hall and the old McNichol’s Arena to catch a bunch more Dead shows and everyone from The Cars and Lou Reed to Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Clash, The Blues Brothers, The Who, The Stone and Peter Tosh. I was a concert warrior, totally had it down and knew how to navigate crowds, find tickets, dance like a Dead Head and always know who was coming to town and when (and all this before the internet!).

As with many things, jobs, family and other time-consuming trappings of adult life cut into my concert-going quite severely over the past 10 years. This summer, an old friend from high school and I went to Red Rocks to see John Prine – and it was the first time I’d been there since the mid-90s. Happily, the place looked more or less the same, with a marked improvement in the overall sanitation in the men’s rooms. I’d caught Beck in Denver in 2000, saw a few Elvis Costello shows in L.A. when we lived out there and got “treated” to Yanni and Josh Groban shows by my wife.

But there was one band that I really wanted to see live, and that was Weezer. A powerful but nerdy four-piece out of L.A. that I’ve loved since they came out in the 1990s, Weezer also became a favorite of all of my kids. So when I heard Weezer was coming to Colorado, I got three tickets and told the boys they were going to their first “real” rock concert.

As it turned out, only our older boy Austin could go. The show was at the relatively new Broomfield Event Center in, well, Broomfield, and we had floor tickets. It was a kick to watch Austin’s reaction when the warm-up band (Angels & Airwaves) kicked things off and we felt that blast of amplified power from the bass and drums that’s always been tonic for my soul. And after years of enjoying Weezer’s music in recorded format, I felt that old rush of adrenaline when the band took the stage – and I knew Austin was feeling the excitement as well. Granted, nothing compares in my mind to the thrill of watching Jerry Garcia walk on stage, but the guys in Weezer definitely had cooler outfits.

Some things have definitely changed. The tickets were $65, a T-shirt was a shameful $35. In the age of people downloading music for free, I don’t mind paying a band to show up and play live – but $35 for a T-shirt?

As we talked afterwards about how he enjoyed his first concert, it dawned on me that I was marking 30 years since my first one. Rather than having that make me feel old, though, I focused on something I know in my heart: I will never be too old to have my eardrums pounded by a live rock ‘n’ roll band. If the kids want to tag along, they’re welcome to. And when the time comes, their kids can tell their friends: “Yeah, my grandpa is a rocker.”

 

 

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