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When Family Friendly Fails

by on August 22nd, 2012

I want to be clear, I love the Concerts on the Square.  They are probably my second favorite thing in Marathon County, just behind the Weston Dog Park.  I have only gone sporadically this year, and I’ve stood in the back.  I had seen all the bands previously, and the child track meet was getting to me.

But tonight my good friend Doug was playing with his band the D-Railers.  So, I made a detour on my vacation and came back to see his show.  It is one of the last for the band, and for Doug, so I thought it would be worth it.   Sadly I could not even tell if I had a good time, I was cringing every 30 seconds.

I confess I am a little bit musician centric, and if, dear reader, these were your children, I apologize.

But, what the hell were those kids doing running around on stage while the band was playing?  Not the cool little dudes doing wall walks on the front of the stage, but the gang of kids who were running between the drummer and the guitar tech.  As the first set went on more kids entered the track meet.

Look, I get the upside.  Parents feel safe letting their kids play anywhere during the 400 Block concerts.  That is a testament to the positive vibe of this whole thing.  But, it is absurd that these kids and these parents had no respect for the professional musicians onstage working in their chosen craft.

Let’s just break it down to money.  Let us assume that there was about 10 grand in guitars, another ten in amps, and how much the drum kit costs, and there were kids running around the rather expensive tools of the trade.

What happens when some young boy or girl knocks over a Fender Stratocaster and breaks the headstock?  Are the parents going to approach Cuda and offer to pay for it?  Or did it not actually happen since it is a festival?

Last weekend at Blues Fest there was security and a barrier, and no one thought to get onstage and dance with the performers.  And there were lots of kids at Blues Fest.  But, the 400 Block concerts just apparently let the children do whatever they want.

No matter how disrespectful that is to the performers — and it is disrespectful. If the parents of the kids were respecting the performers they were enjoying, they would keep their kids off the stage.  They would enjoy the performers and have a great time.  But, they think so little of the effort of these musicians, the parents simply let their kids run amok with no regard to the craft onstage, or the price of the equipment.

I do not think it would be impossible for the event organizers to remain onstage for a while in the beginning of the sets and intervene when the children run onstage.  Just a gentle correction, and soon enough the behavior will be corrected. Kids are amazingly perceptive that way.  Also, instead of a presentation from the sponsor, maybe the sponsor could announce to everyone, “This is a performance, and for everyone’s enjoyment please keep the wonderfully joyful children offstage, unless called by performers.”  In 2012 Jim O’Connell somehow got up on stage before every show and got us all to shut off our cellphones. Maybe someone could get the parents to slow their kids roll a little bit.

If we are not willing to do that, then we are not showing the performers any sort of respect.  And we should.

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