The lights went out. Conversations ended abruptly. We, along with the thousands of people who surrounded us, focused our attention in the same direction. A single voice echoed around us. We listened to the words…to the message. We understood. We were together. We were ready.
The voice stopped.
The speakers bellowed the energy from an electric guitar across the arena, over the crowd, into our ears. The bass washed over us with its low, repeating waves. The drum forced its thumping waves into our chest.
The lights came on.
The band was revealed. The lead singer stepped to the microphone.
We knew the song. We waited for that moment. The moment when we, the band, and the crowd would unite in filling our lungs with the shared air of the arena before it burst out through our vocal cords and out through our mouths as the first word of the first song of my son’s first concert.
I barely remember my first concert. I know that it was David Lee Roth, touring solo after his split from Van Halen. I’m fairly certain I went with my sister and one of her friends, and that they picked the concert. I remember at one point David Lee Roth came off the stage through a tunnel to surface near where we were sitting and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.
It was years before I attended another concert. We moved to Florida, but my sister stayed in Connecticut, which meant that my ride and reasons to go to concerts also stayed in Connecticut. In my teens, I experimented with different types of music, but none of my friends were concert-goers, so it wouldn’t be until I moved to Colorado in my 20s that I would see my next concert. That experience marked the start of a string of countless shows, including a number of performances at Red Rocks and Lollapalooza in Chicago, big stadiums, small venues, and outdoor amphitheaters. My favorite performance, though, will always be sitting at a bar in the foothills of Colorado, watching my then-girlfriend, now-wife, singing on stage.
On a side note, we discovered years after we were married that my wife was also at one of those first concerts in Colorado. We saw that same band at a concert a few months ago. Kismet.
My wife brought music into our house, and we kicked off the marriage with our own concert for a few guests. It was no surprise, then, when our son was born, he came out with a love of music.
When he was an infant, I would sit in the yellow swivel chair in his bedroom and play the simple strumming patterns that I knew, singing him songs from The Decemberists, which he’ll still occasionally listen to on his Alexa as he falls asleep. He grew up surrounded by musical theater from my wife’s school. He’s jumped from guitar to piano to drums as he seeks his musical expression, listening to equally diverse styles of music.
Seeing him at the concert, surrounded by thousands of other fans, with the lights, the fireworks, and the band kinetically generating energy that washed over the crowd, was special. But seeing his face as that energy washed over him, especially with the social, emotional, physical, and sensory challenges that he has, was nothing short of magical.
All these years later, his love of music only continued to grow. He goes to bed with music playing. He’ll have Alexa playing music while he plays video games. Music while he is outside playing basketball in the driveway. When he needs an extra boost or motivation, he’ll put on a song to pump himself up.
Once he got sick. Sensory issues. Crowds. Exgaustion and staying up late. The right mix of him doing better, and a band that we all like coming to town. He was ready.
Us rocking out