Prentiss Riddle: Kids

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Families rock, but 80's hair bands suck

It sounded like such a great thing: an outfit called had organized a family show by Guy Forsyth at Antone's at the kid-friendly hour of 5:30 PM.

So we get there and families with kids are lined up around the block. The doors open and we pay our $5/kid admission (parents are free!) and get free glowsticks and other fun paraphenalia. Guy Forsyth's band is doing a sound check and we think this is going to be very cool.

Then it suddenly turns uncool. Guy and band leave the stage and the organizers introduce a video which they say will teach first-timers how to rock (with a flash of devil hand signs every time they use the word "rock"). The video consists of badly projected 80's stadium concert footage at ear-shredding volume. For an hour. An hour of making toddlers' eardrums bleed! While some of Austin's most talented musicians are cooling their heels backstage!

The families I was with, parents and kids alike, were bored, in physical discomfort, and ticked off. I think as painful as the noise was the insulting idea that anybody would need to be taught how to listen to rock & roll. After 40 minutes or so a bunch of us started chanting "We want Guy!" but of course we couldn't be heard over the Guns 'n' Roses.

Folks, if you want to organize a kid-friendly show, please do it (a) on time, (b) at a pediatrician-approved volume, and (c) with the focus on live music, not some Wayne's World notion of (devil horns again) rock.

P.S. When Guy Forsyth finally took the stage, he was too loud too. Don't people understand that tinnitus doesn't rock? Good hearing rocks. Tinnitus just sucks.

P.P.S. I'm unlikely to try another official Families Rock show again, but their online guide to the kid-friendliness of upcoming shows in Austin does look like a useful resource.

kids 2006.08.20 link


Now for the uncharitable and selfish part of my gripe: whenever I hear Guy Forsyth I wish he'd stick with what I first fell in love with in his music, his mastery of raw, energetic, straight-ahead blues. Acoustic or electric, nobody in this blues-crazy town does it better. (I'm also an admirer of his work as co-founder of the naughty retro-swing ensemble the Asylum Street Spankers.)

I can understand how an artist would get tired of the same three chords after a decade, but Guy's singer-songwriter Americana side is pretty well-trodden ground -- it's not as though he'd given up the blues to become Sun Ra.

Okay, I warned you that I was being mean. Guy, when your fans pine for the good old days, it's only because we love you...

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2006.08.20
I'm sorry that you didn't have any sort of time at the event titled Families Rock. It was clearly advertised on flyers/news interviews/website that pre-show videos were starting the show and Guy would not take the stage until they were over.

Families who attend our shows have kids that have far outgrown barnyard, folk, singer/songwriter Family events and are listening to more modern or heavier choices of music. Often, the parents are listening to the same type of music as well. Which makes them happy to find these type of events that they can come to together.

Families Rock is specifically geared to Families that are ready to experience rock n roll with their kids, thus the name Families Rock.
For those who aren't into Families ROck, we list more of the calmer kiddie stuff on our links page.

People are free to leave if this is not something for them. Why people feel they need to stay and hurt themselves through the loud music is besides me.

As for the devil horns, that's just silly. Especially in Austin, Longhorn country.

Anonymous • 2006.08.21
Anonymous, believe me, we were not looking for a Raffi concert. Our kids have been listening to rock & roll since they were in utero. Some of our favorite family musical experiences were right there at Antone's. Our families included moms and dads with bands of their own.

But there's a difference between loud enough and too damned loud.

And as for the devil sign -- of course rock & roll is the devil's music! That's half the fun... :-)

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2006.08.22

Ironically, Austin Rock N Romp had their first event last month at Ruta Maya - featuring the aforementioned Asylum Street Spankers (no Guy or Stanley, unfortunately). Volume was just right.

M1EK [mdahmus cxe io punkto com] • 2006.08.22
Oh, and, for double irony points: they did, indeed, use the demon electricity (kind of a necessity in a crowd full of young kids).

M1EK [mdahmus cxe io punkto com] • 2006.08.22
As a member of one of the other families in attendance, I've got to agree with Prentiss on the cool to uncool dynamic. My daughters have been raised on a healthy mix of Stevie W., Neil Y., and Johnny C., with heaping spoonfuls of "Devil's Haircut" and "Fight For Your Right" to keep their momma going when times get tough. What was so disappointing last Saturday was that the audience was treated like it wasn't comprised of people who've been rocking hard with their kids since the day they were born.

Maybe the Families Rock folks need to take their show on the road and try it out on a few smaller town crowds before debuting in big city. Perhaps families in those towns will experience the rock and roll release that I think they were trying a little too hard to give a crowd of people who remember how important the first Clash song they ever heard really was and who are raising their kids to listen hard for musical authenticity.

While I loved seeing G'nR up there on the screen, taking me home to the paradise city of nostalgia, what it made me remember was how INCREDIBLE it felt when Nirvana sounded like everything I'd been feeling about music. Guy sounded great and loud, but he couldn't really break the spell that the opening section had cast on me. The night ended up draining, rather than restoring, my faith. Bummer.

prematurely grey [esb cxe austin punkto rr punkto com] • 2006.08.27
Hey now, 80s hair bands are great.
This post, on the other hand, is ridiculous and amusing. Although I do suppose good music and families don't exactly go together *shrug*

Either way, what good is griping about it on the internet? Wouldn't it make more sense to take it up with the people who organized said event?

Anonymous • 2006.10.29
Putting down hairbands is pompous. Most of them were beyond excellent and my wife, daughter and I still see them in concert. Yes, they're still around. Everywhere we see them, it's a packed audience. Put these bands down in the privacy of your home and stop offending people, you two bit jerk!

DKKN • 2006.11.11
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