A Parent’s Primer on Rock Concerts

(Originally published in The Chicago Tribune)

This short quiz is for the thousands of parents who blithely drop off their teenage sons and daughters at venues for rock concerts, usually sponsored by alternative rock station Q101. The six parents who actually go to the concerts, other than myself, are excused from the test. They receive an automatic “A” for attending, extra credit if they make it through without engaging in any embarrassing dance moves, and six gold stars if they still have their hearing intact.

1.) The last rock concert you attended was:
a.) Paul Revere and the Raiders
b.) Jimmy Buffet
c.) BareNaked Ladies

2.) Your last words as you drop your child off at Allstate Arena:
a.) Just ask one of the nice security guards if you need help with anything
b.) Don’t talk to strangers
c.) Don’t talk to girls wearing slutty black halter tops and navel rings


3.) You think T6 stands for:
a.) You don’t know and don’t ask; some things you’d rather not even know
b.) The sixth in a series of annual holiday concerts put on by Q101
c.) You know T6 stands for Twisted 6, which kind of scares you, but you’re just glad to get your teenager out of the house for eight hours.

4.) When you ask your son or daughter which bands are playing at T6, you:
a.) Don’t recognize the name of a single one
b.) Nod and say, “Fiona Apple sounds like the name of a really sweet girl”
c.) Realize that your son or daughter is about to be exposed to the dark underbelly of rock and roll

5.) The people in the row behind your teenager and his or her friends will most likely be:
a.) Other nice teenagers from church youth groups in the suburbs
b.) Scruffy punker-types with purple hair who are nevertheless very harmless
c.) The guys who didn’t make it into the movie “Animal House” because they were too obnoxious

6.) The people in the row in front of your children will most likely be:
a.) More clean cut teens straight out of a Gap ad
b.) Wannabe rockers who smoke dope right in their seats and eat nachos all night
c.) Four fifteen year-old girls, who claim to be seventeen, who chain smoke and do obscene things with their neon glow sticks

7.) What would most alarm you as a parent if only you knew about it:
a.) The price of a Coke at Allstate Arena
b.) The condition of the restrooms
c.) The fact that by the end of the night your daughter and son will have heard every obscenity and then some screamed non-stop at that nice girl singer Fiona Apple

8.) You think the radio show Mancow’s Morning Madhouse is:
a.) You have no clue
b.) A zany bunch of comedians who yuk it up on the airwaves every morning
c.) A group of total sickos, but hey, you can’t protect your kids from everything forever

9.) Cigarette smoking:
a.) Is not allowed at Allstate Arena
b.) Is only allowed in designated areas
c.) Is done in their seats by 50% of the teens in the audience, even though 100% of them have been in health and DARE classes since 4th grade

10.) Marijuana smoking:
a.) Is not allowed at Allstate Arena
b.) Is only allowed in designated areas
c.) Is done in their seats by 50% of the teens in the audience, even though 100% of them have been in health and DARE classes since 4th grade

11.) Your own teenager comes home reeking of cigarette smoke. You:
a.) Readily accept his or her explanation that “everyone else” was doing it but not them
b.) b.)Wonder if they are coming clean when denying smoking, but remembering your own teen years, decide to cut them some slack
c.) Are just glad they’re not doing crack and let it go at that

12.) What unusual new experience from their rock concert outing will your son or daughter share with you?
a.) The line for the pay phones is so long – Doesn’t every teenager have a cell phone?
b.) Seeing a fourteen year-old girl throwing up her beer
c.) Seeing an entire row cleared by a security guard because a teenage girl had her rear end grabbed by someone in that row

Answer key: If you answered “a” to most of the above scenarios, you are walking around in parental LaLa Land, clueless as can be. If you answered “b”, you are doing a little better, but might want to go to just one concert next year just to further your education
(P. S. – none of this is in Dr. Spock). “C” answers mean that you have faced reality and harbor no fantasies regarding what is happening to your teen at a rock concert. If you don’t believe any of this happens, go see for yourself – I’m not making any of this up…

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