At increasingly risqué concerts, parents keep a watchful eye
MANSFIELD — One by one they flew in from opposite ends of the stage, in different cup sizes and colors, little lacy reminders that this was a rock concert. Jack Barakat, a 22-year-old guitarist for the pop-punk band All Time Low, was not pleased with what he saw at the
He wanted more. So, with an expletive, he demanded more bras from the female fans in the squealing crowd at the recent Bamboozle Roadshow tour. By the end of All Time Low’s set, at least seven brassieres dangled from Barakat’s microphone.
Such behavior at rock concerts is no longer shocking. What is surprising, though, is that audiences are increasingly full of teenagers rubbing elbows with Mom and Dad. But parents aren’t necessarily showing up because they like the music; they’re chaperoning to keep an eye on the show their children are seeing.
And as the summer concert season heats up, parents more than ever are trying to figure out which shows are appropriate.
“You know, I don’t have a big problem with what I’m seeing here tonight,’’ Mari Vito of Watertown, Conn., said between sets at the Bamboozle tour. “I brought my 16-year-old daughter tonight because I didn’t want her to attend alone and have access to the backstage area. Otherwise, I don’t know that it’s that much different from when I was growing up. Women used to throw their panties at Tom Jones.’’
Like other parents in attendance — many of whom sat way in the back of the audience, talking with one another or reading — Vito said her real hang-up was the R-rated language. All Time Low, whose publicist did not make band members available for this story, laced almost every sentence with a string of expletives. Vito didn’t like that. “My kids attend a Catholic school, so I hope they don’t hear this kind of language.’’
Chances are they do, though. Sarah Goodwin, a 16-year-old from Derry, N.H., didn’t seem fazed by anything coming from the stage. “I think some of it, like [hip-hop duo] LMFAO, is a little bit risqué, but it’s nothing we don’t already hear in school or on the radio,’’ she said.
Her father, Thom, who sat in the back of the Comcast Center exchanging text messages with her about her whereabouts, didn’t particularly care for the bands. But he said attending a concert with his daughter was a rite of passage, even though his own parents would never have taken him to such a sexually explicit show when he was growing up.
“I think parents are younger today in terms of their acceptance,’’ he said. “To be honest, a lot of times it’s the crowd you have to watch out for, not the bands onstage. When you go to a
Sometimes even mindful parents might not realize what’s in store unless they know the full concert lineup. When the Black Eyed Peas headlined the TD Garden, their set was largely innocuous. But the pop group brought two opening acts that weren’t quite as kid-friendly. Suddenly parents were covering their children’s ears while rapper Ludacris talked about his “hoes in different area codes’’ and LMFAO ignited a singalong to a particularly lewd chorus.
“I think a lot of parents are clueless or just don’t know what they’re sending their kids to,’’ said Michele Borba, an educational psychologist and parenting specialist. “I think the first rule is: Know thy band. It’s really simple: You get a CD and listen to it.’’
Borba said she has noticed that parents’ attitudes toward sexually suggestive music have grown more lax over the years. “We’re learning that music is what’s shrinking the generation gap,’’ she said. “The good news is music can bring us together, but the key is we as parents better step up and know what’s going on. Even if you don’t like the music, you can use it as an opportunity to talk about why your kids like it.’’
Jonathan Miller of Worcester said he already does that. Amid a gaggle of giggling teenage girls, he took his daughter to the Bamboozle but knew what to expect.
“I know what she’s listening to because we usually listen to it together in the car,’’ he said. “To see everyone here having a great time, it’s hard to knock a show like this.’’
And what about some of the raunchier behavior?
“I don’t have a problem with the bras,’’ he said. “As long as they don’t belong to my daughter.’’
James Reed can be reached at email@example.com.