For Dave Matthews Band fans, the summer tour is ritual. It doesn’t matter if the band released a new album recently. There are no glitzy effects or troupes of scantily clad backup dancers—there’s just a prolific jam band playing their hearts out for you, and if you love DMB, you savor every second of the spectacle.
I’ve been going to DMB summer tour shows—eating, drinking, and being merry—for more years than I care to admit (long before cell phone cameras were popular, thank god). I’ve married, matured, become a parent since—but I still cherish my one night of everlasting freedom dancing to Dave under the stars.
While this summer pilgrimage to Tampa or West Palm Beach has been an annual event for the hubby and I for well over a decade, this time it was different. This time we were bringing the kid. I almost wish we’d planned an initiation ceremony (although tamer than, say, Rocky Horror “sacrificing of the virgins”).
All bets were off. The adventure was on.
Traffic screeched to a halt before we even made it to the highway for our two hour drive to the show. Red and blue lights flashed, and though our senses were on high in anticipation of a night of technicolor glory, these lights were of the wrong variety.
The little one piped up from the backseat. “Looks like an accident.”
Turns out it was—AND the remnants of a police chase following a shooting. As we sat in the stalled traffic, cops cuffed the alleged perp and shoved into the back of a squad car.
We hadn’t even left the “safety” of our suburb. This was going to be one heck of a night.
The skies opened up just past Disney. My fingers practically hot glued themselves to the steering wheel, but the kid relaxed in the back, playing something on his Kindle. Lucky duck.
|Yes, he’s wearing his DAD’s shirt. ::sniff sniff::|
An hour and a half later, the amphitheater appeared. Our plans to arrive early to beat the always wicked concert parking debacle mostly worked. We pulled into a swampy parking spot, set up the bag chairs, and popped our respective PBR, cider, and juice box. It was tailgating time.
|Tailgating like a rock star. (must. finish. Harry. Potter.)|
Now, normally, the DMB concert is the one night a year Hubby and I act like drunken dancing fools. We join 20,000 fans grooving in the dark (and often stormy) night to a three-hour marathon of music, sharing in a moment of consummate oneness with the happy hoard of fellow faithful enveloping us.
But this time, we had to behave. Instead of going as a wild and winsome twenty-something (as I did sixteen shows ago) I was going as . . . one of those parents . . .
Respectable. Sober. On my best behavior. ::chills going up my spine:: My how times change.
Change can be good.
The amped up festival atmosphere hit us as soon as we approached the main gate. By arriving early, we staked out a prime piece of real estate. With our dollar store shower curtain spread across the soggy grass, we picnicked as the opening band played. We may have skipped our usual vodka-soaked watermelon, but we had hoagies, an unencumbered view, and an excited kid.
Though the clouds hung heavy, threatening to turn our field seats into a mud pit, someone up there had sympathy for us, and the rains held off. I had visions of my 9-year-old sliding down the sloped seating area like it was a giant mud-drenched slip-and-slide. (I’d seen it done by drunk frat boys before. Unfortunately, concert venues provide no showers.)
The crowd sat tamely this year, a trend I’ve noticed during other concerts in recent years. (Last time we saw NIN everyone SAT the entire show. Un-freaking-believable.) Those around us thought kiddo was adorable and they acted slightly more decorous than usual (meaning no one spilled beer on the kid, elbowed him, or blew smoke his way). They praised us for introducing him to the joys of live music. Seeing a real band live is a completely different experience than just listening on your device of choice—each one of your senses becomes immersed in the music, lighting you up from within.
This show was amazing, as always. And while kiddo enjoyed himself . . .
He grew a little tired being up past his bed time. (Let’s hope this trend continues well into his college years.) Never imagined I’d be holding Goldfish instead of a beer at a DMB show.
But at least he stayed awake the whole time, unlike his first concert. We introduced him to Paul McCartney at the ripe old age of six. (Figured we’d train him young—and we hoped he’d think we were cool parents someday. A mom can dream.)
He passed out cold as Sir Paul performed some of the most momentous songs in rock history. Not even the fireworks during Live and Let Die roused him—but we did wake him so he could sing along to Hey Jude.
Though DMB didn’t play his favorite song Funny the Way It Is (which will always be his theme song to our Costa Rica vacation back when he was just five), he sang along to the songs he’s been raised on.
We all grow up someday. Though the hubby and I felt almost our ages this time, we made memories the kiddo will hopefully remember. And we loved every moment of it.
Have you ever taken your kid(s) to a concert? Do you go yourself? Or do you think I’m just plain crazy?