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Rock Concerts Are Not for Kids

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Last week I saw U2 play at the Rose Bowl. It was a special night for us longtime fans, and I had fun celebrating with so many others who obviously love the band as much as I do. I did not, however, love celebrating with the 4-year-olds who were there as well.

kid crying in a concert

Karyn Bryant: I will most likely wait at least eight or nine years to take her to a rock-n-roll concert though. It's one thing to go to a Wiggles show with the munchkins -- if you're not with kids, then you're just plain weird -- but I think it's something entirely different to take kids to see a band with a grown-up fan base.

If you caught the YouTube simulcast of the U2 concert from the Rose Bowl, you saw a reported 96,000 fans singing in unison to what I think is one of the greatest bands ever. It was a special night for us longtime fans, and I had fun celebrating with so many others who obviously love the band as much as I do. I did not, however, love celebrating with the 4-year-olds who were there as well. They were stressing me out because they should have been at home.

The parents in line behind me were selling their children on the fact that they'd get to hear "Vertigo" from the band "in real life! Not on the radio!" From what I saw, their kids couldn't care less. Mind you, this was the hour-long line in the satellite parking lot at 5:30 PM. We weren't even at the Rose Bowl yet! Their slumped shoulders and whining voices were just getting warmed up, and U2 wasn't due to hit the stage till about 8:45 PM. If you are looking for the definition of a long night, there it is.

When we arrived at the stadium, things got a little crazy. More lines without much information, and, oh yeah, 96,000 other confused revelers. I saw people in their forties panicking as they tried to wind their way through in the dark. My husband went into full-on "Man in Charge Mode" as we navigated the unruly mob, and I haven't yet found a crowd I couldn't get through, so we were fine. I'm not so sure about the suburban couple with the little ones, though. I find it hard to believe that they were anything less than freaked the hell out.

There was an 8-year-old seated next to me who actually fared pretty well throughout the night. He didn't really bother me, but I'm not sure how his mom explained the strange, skunky burning smell wafting through the air. (Not from my direction, LOL!) All I know is that kid absolutely threw down on some nachos about halfway through.

I know as parents we want to share our passions with our children, and we also don't want to have to give up things we love just because we have had kids. But taking little ones to an extremely crowded, extremely loud rock-n-roll show may not be a great idea. For us big kids, it was a fantastic night -- I just don't think the stress of getting to and from such a huge event was worth it for the little guys (it was another hour in line to get out of the show -- 12:30 AM and you're still not in your car. On a school night). Honestly, I also find it hard to believe that Mom and Dad really enjoyed themselves with two exhausted children in tow. Perhaps they should have spent the money on two fewer tickets and one more babysitter.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the U2 concert will prove to have been life-changing for those 4-year-olds. But guess what? So was the new toy they just had to have last week. And the new shirt the week before.

next: The Cherry Tree Run Amok
12 comments so far | Post a comment now
lisaw November 8, 2009, 5:17 AM

I am with you on this! I would have loved to have gone to the last U2 concert, but I wasn’t comfortable leaving my child with a babysitter for that long. It never once occurred to me bring my almost 4 year old child to the show. For starters, its not appropriate for her; she’s too young, the show’s too loud, etc. etc. etc. Also ITS NOT AN EVENT FOR KIDS! Not everything is open to our children. Its not fair to the others who have spent good money to for concert tickets (or R rated movie tickets, or other adult events) to have my kid interfere with their night out. If it was a kid friendly environment (such as a free daytime outdoor concert in the park) then by all means bring the kids along.

Pamala November 8, 2009, 8:53 AM

I’d love to take my daughter to a Tim McGraw concert cause oddly enough she loves him but she’s 3 and it’s not a place for her, especially since it’s insanely loud. I’d also love to take her to a NASCAR race but the same reasons prevent me from doing so. There are just some places kids should not be until they’re older.

Lindy November 8, 2009, 8:58 AM

I first took my daughter to a rock concert when she was 14.

Jen November 8, 2009, 9:53 AM

I agree, 4 year old is too young!! That’s what babysitters are for. I have to say my BIGGEST pet peeve is when adults take children (ages 8-up), they do not make their children wear ear plugs!! I went and saw No Doubt this past summer, (absolutely love Gwen) there were so many kids there as young as 6 and not one had ear plugs on!! Concerts are extremely loud and they can do so much damage to your ears, let alone a child’s developing ears (ringing). It’s just irritating how clueless parents can be sometimes. You can hear the music with earplugs, it just takes the blare out and tunes down the music decimal to a safe level that won’t damage the ear drum.

LIssalou November 8, 2009, 11:19 AM

I often wonder what is wrong with some parents. We went to see Hinder/Theory of a Dead Man. The couple brought their 2 kids, both younger than 10. The poor things were completely miserable and mom and dad were clueless. The little girl finally curled up in her seat with her ears plugged. My husband had some earplugs out in the car so he missed half an hour of the show to go get the kids some earplugs. I seriously wanted to smack those parents. Our three children were left at home with a sitter.

Rachel November 8, 2009, 3:02 PM

I guess I’m failing to see what the problem is? Is the issue that these kids are getting in the way or becoming a distraction at a loud concert (like you can really hear them), or is it that you’re nosey and need to butt in to other’s business and assume you know how to parent their children better than they do? Not every 4 year old enjoys listening to the Wiggles and Barney. As for their developing ears, the loudness of a rock concert can be just as damaging to adults’ ears as childrens. There are lots of other venues that can be just as loud - a rowdy ballpark, a NASCAR race, etc. I wouldn’t have a problem taking my kids to a concert if they’d enjoy it (I’d pack earplugs). Sounds like you might’ve enjoyed the concert more if you’d just mind your own business and quit worrying so much about what others are doing, particularly when it doesn’t concern you.

cris November 8, 2009, 7:55 PM

oh come on now, most of these concerts have bad language from both the performers and in the crowd, beer is sold and adults are drinking. I’ve witnessed many things at concerts that kids should not see. It’s like taking your kid to a bar. Not a place for kids, that’s why these bands don’t have a matinee. Wake up parents, if your kid likes the music, buy the CD.

Rachel November 9, 2009, 5:05 AM

Oh no! Adults are drinking! Guess what, adults drink during the super bowl, at weddings, etc., etc., do I need to go on? I’ll have a beer in front of my kids from time to time. Are you kidding me? Is that the best argument? Wow.

Kristal November 9, 2009, 8:34 AM

I don’t care that children are present at concerts. However, a 4 year old at a concert that ends at midnight. Is that really for the child? I bet that child would be just as happy at home with a babysitter playing games in their pajamas and getting read stories before bed.

Alyssa August 19, 2010, 2:01 PM

if you’re worried about your children damaging their ears, bring earplugs. (like rachel suggested).
if you’re worried about language, gtfo because sheltering your kids from all the “bad words” they might hear when they’re young is a futile attempt to keep their virgin ears clean.
they’re going to hear them.
get over it.
if you teach your children right from wrong, it shouldn’t be a problem.
bottom line: it depends on the parent’s or parents’ preference.
raise your children how you think is best.

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chris May 25, 2011, 9:48 PM

A little late with my response but here goes: We just took our 4 year old daughter to the U2 360 Tour in Denver, and she had a ball. The other parents around us even gave her high fives and talked to us about how she did during the show. She had a great time, and yes she wore a pair of shooting muffs that made the noise level a safe one. She fell asleep in my arms about 3/4 of the way through the first set, and stayed asleep all the way through the encore. Trust me, how she acted was all good, she had a greta time, and couldn’t wait to get to school on Monday to tell her teachers and friends about the great concert she went to. If you don’t feel kids should be at your adult show - you need to grow up!

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