Last night I took my 17-year-old son to his first real concert — Poppy at a small club called Vinyl in Atlanta. If you haven’t heard of Poppy, she’s an unusual YouTube sensation, more of a visual and sound experiment than a true music star. But she does have an album out and is now touring smallish clubs with most shows selling out.
It’s not my kind of music. The crowd is not my crowd. But it is fairly innocent, and the fans loved it. My son was among those at the front of the stage, while I stood well in the back. If you were there, you may recall having seen an old guy in a Georgia football t-shirt. That was me. Trust me, no one else looked like me — which, granted, may be a good thing for them. The important thing was my son had a blast. That’s all I cared about.
My first real concert as a teenager was in Columbus’ old Municipal Auditorium in 1987. I also was at the front of the stage to witness the tribute to debauchery provided by Murphy’s Law, Fishbone and especially the headliners — the Beastie Boys. It got out of control enough that the cops shut it down, which only enhanced the Beastie Boys’ reputation, much the way slapping those “explicit content” labels helped sell more dirty records. (Probably not the goal Tipper Gore was pursuing with that effort.)
I also had a blast at my first concert, but I didn’t have much fun explaining it all to my parents the next day when the stories and images from the show made the rounds of Columbus media. I remember Columbus DJ Bear O’Brian banning them from airplay on his station after everything he witnessed. As an adult, Bear was repulsed. As a kid, I was thrilled.
But now that I’m an adult, I’m glad my son didn’t start his concert-going with a show like that. Poppy’s weird, and the music is for people who like computer-generated sounds. But she didn’t throw beer on people, didn’t have half-naked girls on stage and the cops didn’t have to shut her performance down.
I think they may have been too weirded out.
Don’t know Poppy? Well, here’s a clip from a show a few days ago. Brace yourself: