We have been trying to take our kids to their first concert for several years now. First attempt was when we just had Marcus. We were there, ready to rock, and the band was stuck at an airport in New Jersey. No concert. Then a couple weeks ago when I went to see Robert Randolf and the Family Band at the Arts Festival, the kids were going to go. Turned out that that was also the night of the final Stanley Cup playoff game. Greg didn't want to miss the game and I didn't want to try to take two kids to a concert by myself. We thought we would give it a try again this past Sunday. We headed off to Hartwood Acres. It was about an hour drive (only about 15 minutes from our old house). I wish I would have known about these free concerts when we lived closer to Hartwood Acres. Apparently they have a bunch of them all summer long. We were there to see the Old 97's.
I thought I was all prepared. I packed some snacks for the kids and their drinks. I also threw in some long sleeved shirts for the kids in case the weather got cool in the evening. I suggested we take this plastic tablecloth that we have to sit on since it had rained earlier and the ground was damp. As soon as we arrived I realized how unprepared I was.
First of all, there were lots of people - probably close to 2,000 people. There were lots of families and it seemed every single one of the families had blankets, chairs, coolers full of food, drinks for the whole family, balls and Frisbees and hula hoops and other various toys for their kids, and almost every family had brought their dog. I almost felt silly walking across the lawn to find a seat in the grass while carrying nothing but my bag and a plastic table cloth, while our poor puppy was locked up in her crate at home.
After we found a place to settle, I took the kids up to check out the stage since we were a good distance away. We had just gotten back to our place in the grass when someone came on stage to announce that they were going to get started a little early that evening. No sooner were the words spoken than the skies opened up. In an instant we were in a massive downpour. Rain was falling sideways. People were running for cover. We were on our feet and on the move.
Greg and I each grabbed a kid. We took the plastic table cloth and draped it over our heads. It provided very little protection. I was suddenly glad we didn't have a full picnic spread out that we needed to pack up before trying to get to a dry spot. Greg followed behind me blindly while I peeked out from under the table cloth to try to make our way to the car. Mostly it was going well until we had to cross the area that people were driving through. Greg stepped on my flip flop and as cars went by on both sides and we were hiding under a table cloth with our hands full of kids, I was trying to locate my shoe in the mud that was quickly forming.
We did make it back to the car. My shorts were soaked. Greg's back was soaked. Marcus was pretty much damp all over and somehow Will was almost completely dry. We hung out in the back of our SUV which didn't really provide too much cover since the rain was still falling sideways. It probably rained hard for about 20 minutes and started to clear up a little. There was even a rainbow! It cleared up and the night ended up being perfect! I had a spare pair of pants in the car that I put on Marcus along with the long sleeve shirt I brought for him in case it got cold. Then it was back to the concert area.
It was quite an awesome concert, but not really for the reasons that I am usually raving about concerts. The atmosphere was just really cool. It was mostly families just hanging out enjoying the night. Probably 75% of the people there had never heard an Old 97's song. I did take Marcus up front for a little bit and there were some more hard core fans up there, but we were a bit back most of the time just enjoying being outside and listening to music. Kids played all around us and off to the side some older kids threw balls or played Frisbee. There were signs up that said no alcohol but a good deal of people were drinking openly in front of security. It seemed like as long as everyone was responsible, no one cared. We splurged and bought some food from the snack bar which was very reasonably priced for an event - $7.50 for two hot dogs, a hamburger, and a bottle of water.
And the kids had a blast! I had a couple cars in my bag and Will mostly hung out and played with cars and ate some snacks. Marcus jumped a lot and ran circles around our little place on the ground. Towards the end, both kids were up and dancing. It was the first concert I have been to in a long time where I wasn't annoyed at the crowd in some way or another. Everyone was there just minding their own business and having fun. We had so much fun that we are already planning on heading back at least two more times this summer. What a great way to spend time with my family this weekend.
(I have no clue how this picture turned out like this but it is pretty cool! Photo taken by Marcus.)