Whether it’s Mumford & Sons or Marilyn Manson, taking a teen to his or her first concert can be quite a big deal. To help make the event a positive experience, it’s all about the pre-concert preparation, say entertainment experts in southeast Michigan and beyond. Here are some of their tips and insights for parents.
First: Listen to the music! If you’re chaperoning, it’s always fun to be able to sing along to a few songs and know what to expect from the performers. Make it a family affair with a listening party, complete with popcorn and music videos. See if you can find the songs on video game Just Dance to spice things up a bit.
It’s important that teens know the ground-rules before leaving the house. Go over a quick rundown of what is expected of them and how often they need to check in with you (if you’re not along for the revelry).
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An article on SheKnows.com brings up a great point, too: Do your kids know what to expect in the audience? No matter what concert your teen is going to, there could be drinking going on and adults could act inappropriately. Make sure they understand that you are their safety net and that the people who work at the venue are there to take care of out-of-control situations.
Letting your child attend a concert can be a daunting prospect for parents. When you decide your teen is ready, be sure to have a safety talk in advance about meeting places and what to do in an emergency, says Sgt. Meghan Broderick Lehman of the Troy Police Department.
“Knowing where exits are located is always a good idea, as well as coming up with a reunification plan,” Lehman says.
While the risk of a serious incident at a concert or other event is low, it’s still worth discussing.
“In an active shooter situation, it is almost always best to run and get out of the situation as quickly and avoid delays,” she says. “I think it’s important that kids know that these situations are rare, but that being prepared is always a good idea.”
Policies, nuts and bolts
Kathryn Kowalski, director of private event sales at Olympia Entertainment (which includes the Fox Theatre, Joe Louis Arena and other Detroit concert hot spots), told us that looking ahead is a good idea. Before your teen gets her hopes up, make sure she’s allowed to do the things she is expecting to do.
“Arm yourself with a list of questions regarding policies prior to the event by referencing the venue’s website,” Kowalski notes. “Something seemingly innocuous” – like bringing a sign into the venue or smartphones and/or digital cameras – “may not be permitted. So before your teen spends 12 hours crafting a glittery homage to their favorite artist, it’s best to find out exactly what is allowed and what is not.”
Other info may also be available on a venue’s site, too, like parking details, parent drop-off/pickup locations and if a ‘”parent room” will be available – “a special area for an individual parent or guardian who’s waiting to drive their young fan(s) home and did not purchase a ticket,” Kowalski explains.
For example, the all-day outdoor Vans Warped Tour, a touring music and extreme sports fest popular with teens that visits metro Detroit every summer, features a “Reverse Daycare” chill zone for parents until 6 p.m.
To keep your teen from dramatically “dying of embarrassment,” there are a few things to remember. Don’t be a downer; sure, you’re not looking forward to Justin Beiber, but make the best of it (case in point: this BuzzFeed collection of Instagram photos featuring dads “enduring a One Direction concert”). Oh, and bring earplugs: Teenage girls screaming means migraine city.
The way a parent dresses is also an important step in avoiding the “facepalm” treatment. Alison Salcedo, spokesperson for the StubHub ticket-buying website, offers a few tips on concert attire: “Wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. Our best advice is not to try to dress like your teen and, instead, be the cool concert-going parent you are in your own skin (and clothes!).”
If your teenager is going with friends who have already purchased seats but you want to join, consider getting tickets for a few rows back on a site like StubHub. That way, you can monitor without cramping her style. “Our site is user friendly, with detailed seat maps of every venue, so you can see exactly what your view will be like from your seats,” says Salcedo.
Tag along – or no?
For some parents, it may be difficult to decide whether or not to go along for the show. In addition to having a safety talk in advance, be sure to consider other factors for your teen’s safety. Good questions to ask before the concert might be: Is the music appropriate? Will the crowd get too rowdy?
If parents decide to stay home, they can still take precautions. Schedule a drop-off and pickup time – offer to drive the kids and make sure to enforce when and where they are supposed to meet after the concert. Take a look at the schedule and call ahead to the venue to get an estimated time the festivities end.
The most important thing to remember is that not all kids are the same. You know your child best, so when it comes to deciding whether or not they can go it alone, trust your gut.
This article was originally published in September 2013 and was updated in May 2017.