I took my ten year old to her first metal show last week. Yes, I subjected her 100+ decibels and 10,000+ rowdy, sweaty (and a few inebriated) fans.
But before you snatch away my Mom-of-the-Year Award and stomp it to bits with your sensible shoes, hear me out.
There were earplugs involved. And backstage passes. And amusement park rides. I couldn’t resist.
Little Miss M is no stranger to concerts. She attended many a moe. show in utero, and had her first 3-day festival experience at nine months old.
When other kids are tagging along with their parents to office buildings and cubicles on “Take Your Child to Work Day”, we regularly give her a taste of our livelihood each summer as she witnesses stages built, lighting trusses hung, catering set up and crew running around like headless chickens with Maglites. She has happy reunions with other band kids who, like her, don’t exactly realize how rare it is to play house in a tour bus, to play tag backstage and to fall asleep side-stage while the band plays on.
So I knew she would do OK in the concert environment. However, she has never stood in gen pop, watching a stage ignite in pyro flames and fireworks, with a skeletal mascot leering out from ever-changing backdrops and making 3-D appearances in statues as big and impressive as an Easter Island Moai.
If you hadn’t guessed by now, the metal show was Iron Maiden. For those of you who aren’t aware of my admiration for their frontman Bruce Dickinson, you might want to click here.
It’s been over twenty-seven years since I first began seeing them live, and I never imagined they would still be touring well into their 50s and still performing top-notch. They never just phone in a show on auto-pilot, it’s always 110% effort and genuine.
And I always tell people: as long as they keep playing like this, I will keep going to shows. This is no nostalgia act. For them, or for me. But realistically, I know the time is, as Bruce would say, running low.
So I thought it was time to show my daughter something I really love and enjoy, and to introduce her to the friends I have made along the way.
The band was playing 40 minutes from my house – the closest they’ve been since 2005. No borders to cross, no planes to catch. The shed was part of a local amusement park, so first there were rides:
Then came a weird and wonderful opportunity – I introduced my child to Bruce’s child. Like his father, Austin Dickinson is making waves with his distinctive voice in his own band, Rise To Remain. They are one of the many bands on Warped Tour this summer, and they happened to have a show the very next night at the same venue. So Austin came down to watch his dad’s show.
He was charming and gracious and I think he gained a new fan! Now the Dickinson-Topper circle is complete…until maybe the day when my grandchildren are famous and Bruce’s grandchildren want to meet them.
Oh, and the show? She loved it! Earplugs and all. Bruce (wearing a shirt on stage designed by his younger son Griffin, who recently launched a clothing company, Griffin Allstar) and the rest of the band thoroughly entertained and enthralled her.
“What is the most important thing in life?” an attendee of the Forum IAB marketing conference in Warsaw, Poland recently asked the guest speaker after his riveting 40 minute lecture on Customer Value Management. (Yes, I said ‘riveting’ and ‘marketing’ in the same breath!)
“Your children. Your family.” The speaker replied. The speaker was Bruce Dickinson. And the crowd hung on to his every word. (Told you. Riveting!)
Sadly the Youtube video containing the informal Q&A has been made private, but you can still watch the speech itself here and here. I wish I had transcribed what he had said about supporting and taking care of your children, as it was pretty wise. Spend time with your kids, pay attention to them. Show interest in what they do. We cannot all model our kids’ T-shirts in front of 15,000 fans each night, but we can love them and take an interest in what they want to do in life.
If my kid decides she never wants to see another metal show again, I will be OK with that. I’m glad I got to share a part of me she hadn’t been privy to before, and I hope she will always remember the side of me not defined by “mom” standards. I hope her own interests and passions and beliefs continue to expand and I will always fight my way to front row and center to cheer her on.