When you catch your little bundle banging on pots and pans, it’s the first sign: You have a budding rock-n-roll fan on your hands. Soon, he’ll be ready for a real-deal concert. But what should you know about taking your kid to a live kindie rock show?
We turned to Paul Crowe, lead singer of local kindie punk band The Boogers, for answers. Paul’s the right guy to ask: The Boogers are nationally known and wail onstage for kids and adults alike (most pits aren’t unusual; see for yourself at their March 10 gig at Wonder Works in Oak Park). Plus, as a dad of three boys, Paul’s knows what it’s like to schlep a little herd to a show. He also just so happens to have PhD in Developmental Psychology.
Bring it on, Paul.
Red Tricycle: Is there a “right” age to take your kid to a kindie rock show?
Paul: Any age is right! Even infants can enjoy live music. Concerts at play spaces, like Little Beans Cafe, are a good place to start because it’s a mellower crowd.
RT: How should a parent prepare for a concert?
Paul: Take care of your child’s individual needs first. It could mean packing snacks, water or diapers. Very young kids with sensitive ears can benefit from ear protection. Earplugs are okay, but tend to fall out. I’ve seen folks use an earmuff-like design, and those work great. We actually have a rider in our contract that requires venues to keep the volume at a safe level for ears. Beyond that, it’s also a good idea to come to a show with familiarity of the music you’re going to hear. Lots of bands have free samples and/or videos you can access online to get a sense of things. If parents dig the music, they’re more likely to engage with their kids during the show.
RT: Any particular way to dress for a kindie rock show?
Paul: Whatever the age, it’s comfortable, easy-to-move-around-in clothes that rule the day.
RT: What’s better for newbies: An indoor or outdoor show?
Paul: Outdoor shows are probably better for first-timers, because they’re usually staged around some other kind of event, street fair, etc. You aren’t closed in and there’s lots of room to run around. We’ve played shows outside to more than 2,000 people, and they’re a lot of fun because there’s a big crowd grooving to the same beat. Indoor places are much better when the weather is crummy, of course. They’re also much more intimate, with direct interaction with the band.
RT: When should a family arrive for a concert? Better to beat the crowds?
Paul: I recommend about 15 minutes before the show is scheduled to start. You’ll want to find a place in the venue that’s comfortable for you. Some kids and parents like to be right at the front of the stage, digging the action. Others are more focused on having room to dance, and yet others like to stand back and enjoy. Whatever floats your boat.
RT: Is there ever a chance to meet the band?
Paul: I can’t speak for every band, but we always try to engage with our audience, both before and after the show. The kids in the crowd get a real kick out of it. We’ve had fans take part in video shoots and, now that we’ve been around awhile, we’re seeing our first fans come back as pre-teens. They tell us that they’ve started playing guitar or drums because they saw us and we encouraged them. It’s hard to describe how good that feels. Bottom line: Just come up and talk to band members. It can even be a simple, “Hi.”
What that insider advice in your back pocket, it’s time to see a show. Here’s a look at some of the rock clubs (plus a store and a play space) where The Boogers have played to crowds of eager, pint-sized fans.
Little Beans Cafe
This mild, sweet play space is great for younger kids who, if they tire of the tunes, can go in the playroom and scoot through the mini firehouse or tinker at the train table.
Adult indie venue by night, there are kids shows every Saturday and Sunday at noon from fall through spring. It’s a real rock-concert experience, with the added bonus of good food (and Bloody Marys for you older head-bangers).
A change from the usual, this Bucktown children’s boutique occasionally hosts acoustic shows. It’s a great, intimate place to see a show, and you can bob your head in the company of the latest kids’ apparel and toys.
Kids concerts are infrequent, but when they happen, they really bring the noise. Sound reverberates from every from every corner — perfect for older kids that love to let it all out. Also, handy when it comes to drowning out whines and cries from younger fans.
The once-a-month children’s concert series jams the Lakeview indie concert hall with hipsters-in-the-making. It can get loud, but there’s Harmony Grill next door if you need a quiet mac-n-cheese break.
Catch The Boogers at an upcoming gig:
March 10 – Wonder Works, 6445 North Ave., Oak Park (708-383-4815)
June 29 – Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Rd., Wheaton (630-668-5161)
October 12 – Wilmette Theatre, 1122 Central Ave., Wilmette (847-251-7424)
Have you seen The Boogers? Any tips for families wanting to rock out with their kiddos?
— Kelly Aiglon
Band photo: Peter Wochniak