Parents who hesitate telling their kids to turn down that damn rock music because they listened to it themselves must be relieved when their offspring choose something smart and punky, but unthreatening. Like Paramore, who played at Roseland in New York City last night and who have embraced their parent-friendly reputation. Lead guitarist Zac Farro even told MTV, “”For every five 13-year-old girls, there’s a dad with them. And they’re like, ‘Well, they dragged me to this concert, but I just like it. I’m still gonna be out there singing the words.’ ” But for every 13-year-old who rocks out with Mom and Dad, there is another who wants to be met around the corner.
When Maura asked me to take pictures of parents waiting outside last night’s show, I told her I didn’t think anyone would be there. I mean, this was New York, whose natives had been telling me for years that they were riding the subway from the age of six, sent off with only a pat on the head and, perhaps, a shiv. But behold, bundled in coats and scarves were moms and dads, cell phones plastered to their heads, trusting their kids to pick up when summoned. Some had tried to kill time by going to dinner, others by shopping, and all had given up trying to get near the Rockefeller Center tree lighting. It certainly made my father’s stint sitting in the parking lot outside Paul McCartney’s show at the Forum seem more hardcore. (In that case, the mothers were the crowd.)
Most of the people I met had daughters between the ages of thirteen and fifteen (the demographic of the show or the demographic of concerned parents?), and they didn’t really know the band other than what they could hear played in the house. “I know that one song ‘Misery’ because it’s always on,” one parent said. They understood the music to be generally clean and positive; lead singer Hayley Williams has even discussed her regret for taking the Lord’s name in vain in the always-on “Misery Business.” Most of the girls didn’t play instruments themselves–”She’s into [recorded] music and fashion. You know, Long Island girls,” said one dad–but many sang at school or danced, which is just one shocking orange haircut away from fronting a band.
To my question of “Would they have let you come inside?” the answer was almost always, “Oh no, you need a ticket,” a testament to both the vagueness of my query and the fact that these parents’ homes had not yet been infused with searing adolescent hatred. Besides, the parents agreed a concert’s runtime was too long to stand, a sentiment with which I commiserated a little too enthusiastically. Have I become so old that I’d rather shop and try to beat down tourists in the name of Christmas? I also found myself shocked at how many kids were smoking–obviously, the influence of Alistair Cookie chomping on his pipe and unadulterated pictures of Winston Churchill.