So my son is in second grade. In many ways, he’s ahead of the curve: he’s a great reader, he makes friends easily, he has a scary good memory for detail, and he’s handsome like his dad.
To prove he’s human, he waited until just the other day to figure out how to ride a bicycle on his own. It was a lot like his learning to walk a few years ago: didn’t seem interested or able, and then suddenly there he goes.
Had he waited just a little bit longer to get the hang of the non-motorized, two-wheeled mode of transportation, he could have achieved immortal hipsterdom by going to his first concert before learning to ride a bike.
As odd as it seems, he’s been waiting nearly half his life to see these guys. Back in 2010, I was going to a conference in Toronto. I brought one of the work iPads home to take with me for the trip. I decided to get the hang of it by watching YouTube videos. My son, ever fascinated with electronics (like his devastating good looks, he gets that from his dad), wanted to see what I was doing. So I showed him some dumb viral videos. “Epic Sax Guy.” “Russian Newt Gingrich sings ‘Let It Be.'” “Kung Fu Hillbilly (Judy Chop!)” And, of course, “TROLOLOLOLO.”
Realizing the harm I was doing, I decided to show him some music videos. Vampire Weekend’s “A-Punk” came to mind.
“Whoa…cool! What else do they sing?”
So I ran through much of the videography: “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” (they become werewolves or somethin’!), “Cousins” (they’re all going crazy!), “Giving Up the Gun” (which might have sparked his interest in tennis), and “Holiday” (they wanted a piece of those surfers!).
A fan was created. We watched the videos time and again over the ensuing months. Last year when the band played Pitchfork, the boy and I watched the live stream on the web. When they released the lyric video for “Step” earlier this year, we watched it over and over and over again (that might explain how he can recite much of the first verse, despite challenging lyrics such as “Angkor Wat” and “Dar Es Salaam” and “Communist reader”).
So when I saw VW was coming to Kansas City, I made the executive decision: the boy is ready for his first show.
We had to wait a few months for the show, primarily because it got delayed from May to October (possibly a Saturday Night Live conflict or something). But spending an autumn day in the BBQ capital was a nice reward for the delay.
We ate Jack Stack brisket and ribs and chicken. We hit up the toy store Zoom on the Plaza. We chilled out by a large fountain that was spraying pink water in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We ate the most decadent slice of Cheesecake Factory yumminess, the “Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake.”
I started to worry the concert was going to play second fiddle to Kansas City.
Anyway, we headed north to Midland, found our seats, listened to some hipster douchebag (my son’s words, not mine…kidding) say utterly insipid things while also commenting on my son’s attendance at the concert (“What is this, fuckin’ Kidz Bop?”), listened to opening band the Olms (who provided the boy with his introduction to live music volume), and then settled in for the headliner.
The band recreates their sound well. They came out of the gate with “Cousins,” “White Sky,” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” before running out the big songs from the latest album. People were having fun. The boy sang along to a good number of the songs, bouncing around on his seat and my lap, depending on the song (even with theater seating, he sometimes needed the booster seat of Dad’s lap to see it all). Atop this post was a video of “Unbelievers”; below you’ll see/hear a good portion of “Diane Young”:
So before I started typing this, I had a short bedtime conversation with The Next Generation to get his take on it all. (This is verbatim.)
First things first: did you enjoy your first concert?
Yes! I really liked “Giving Up the Gun.”
What others did you like the best?
I liked “Step,” “Unbelievers,” and “Diane Young” for new ones. Oh yeah! “Kwassa Kwassa.”
Do you know any words to that song?
Is your bed made? Is you sweater on? Do you want to? Like you know I do?
Did you like singing along with the songs?
Yes! It was awesome.
What surprised you most about the concert?
On “Giving Up the Gun,” all the red, flashing lights and stuff.
What about the volume?
It was really loud.
Mmmm, no. (Atta boy.)
What did you think of the opening act, the Olms?
They were OK.
What did you think of the nerds sitting behind us?
Blaaaaaaaaaaah. They just kept talking.
Do you want to go to another concert soon? Who do you want to see?
Yes! The Cure or Crystal Castles or Sleigh Bells.
Why “blech” for Sleigh Bells?
Because the new album is @#^@%^@%##
What does that mean?
Never mind. What bands would you like to see that you can’t see these days?
You said you liked the Midland Theatre. What did you like about it?
The chandelier. And there were pictures on the ceiling.
Do you have a favorite member of Vampire Weekend?
The singer (Ezra Koenig).
I think this interview is over.
Waaah. (rolls around on the bed) “Is your bed made…”
So yeah, this was a lot of fun for both of us. Hopefully it will be some time before the boy thinks Music or Space Shuttle? and the guys who maintain it are totally lame.