Teens and Rock Concerts

Parent Q&A

  • Appropriateness of Greek Theatre for young teenager

    (5 replies)

    Hi, I'm looking for advice about whether nighttime performances at the Greek Theatre are safe and/or appropriate for an unaccompanied 14 year old boy.

    Thanks, Bullhair

    Hello, it's great that you are thinking over this question to help keep your child safe. I'd say no: fourteen years old is definitely too young to attend that venue unaccompanied.

    That would somewhat depend on who he is going to see but they serve alcohol and there is a lot of pot smoking. The first time my daughter saw a show there she was also 14. She and her friend stood in the front and me and my friend sat in the back. The second time, we dropped them off and picked them up. 

    I live within walking distance of the Greek Theater and have attended many concerts there both with and without my teens. I think it is a very safe venue, and the surrounding neighborhood is safe too, especially compared to other venues that size such as Bill Graham in SF or the Oakland Colosseum complex. I've never felt unsafe at the Greek, have never seen any fights or aggressive behavior there. They do sell beer at some but not all concerts, but they are quite strict about proof of age. Also, as with most other concert venues, there is likely to be someone sitting nearby who is smoking pot.

    I think 14 might be on the young side to go alone to a concert, but it depends on the kid. Kids who are music lovers and are taking the initiative to see live music should be encouraged! One of my kids was going to concerts with friends at that age, where a parent dropped them off and picked them up after. By the next year my 15yo son and his friends were taking BART or city buses to get to shows at the Gilman or in SF. Can your son navigate public transportation on his own right now?  If so, then he will do fine at the Greek, which is a lot tamer than your average city bus, with many concert-goers arriving and leaving on foot. Speaking of which, if you decide to drop him off I would recommend identifying a nearby meeting place in advance, because the road it's on will be very congested before and after the concert, and you won't be able to pull up in front to get him.

    You might consider buying a ticket for yourself and going along too.  You don't have to sit together if he objects to going with Mom or Dad. Then you can see for yourself what it's like, and also learn something about the music he listens to!

    I would not say it's appropriate for him unaccompanied unless you are OK with him being around a LOT of people drinking and smoking pot without you.  I have brought my 14 year old son to a concert with me, but would not let him go alone.

    It's really going to depend on what the event is. I would say that the Greek Theater is an overall safe place, especially if you're planning on dropping them off and picking them up. I'd be more concerned about what type of crowd the musical act draws rather than the location. While your son might be fine at a James Taylor concert held anywhere, some rap and metal acts draw crowds that are looking for trouble. I went to OzzFest (metal) at Shoreline once as an adult and felt unsafe. But I went to see Styx at the Oakland Arena as a 14 year old not accompanied by an adult and felt perfectly safe. My mom dropped me off and my friend's mom picked us up. It was one of the best concerts that I've ever seen!

    I'd do some research about the act that your son wants to see. Is the typical crowd filled with drunk men? That would scare me. Crowds that are more balanced between men and women and not as focused on alcohol feel a lot more comfortable.

    The other option that you have is to go to the show with your son. You can make a meeting place for afterwards and send him off with his friends to enjoy the concert. But you'll be there in case things turn ugly or he needs you. My mom took a me and a bunch of my friends to see the B-52s at the San Francisco Civic Center when I was 14. She and her friend sat in the seats while we danced on the floor. It worked out perfectly. My mom was really awesome about stuff like this!

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Questions

17-year-old wants to go to concert at Candlestick

August 2003

must be the only person my age who has never been to a rock concert! This makes it even harder for me to figure out how to handle this transition. My son is 17, reasonably mature and responsible -- it would seem to be ''time'' to allow this, but how? Metallica is his favorite group (and I am not so dismissive, ever since he played me their CD with the San Francisco Symphony). There is a big concert at Candlestick Park on Aug 10 -- so I told him I would pay for the tickets, if he would take his younger brother with him. I figured that, with a 3:00 curtain time, they would be home for dinner, certainly. Au contraire! It is a huge thing, with 5 or 6 bands on the schedule, pyrotechnics (after dark, no?) There are no reserved seats -- the worst seat in the place costs exactly the same as the best seat -- the fellow at Tower Records told me that people would probably be camping overnight to get good seats! This is not a Spice Girls concert where your mother can sit with the other moms and watch out for you from a distance! What have I gotten myself into? I have no idea what to expect. There is no one to phone for information -- I don't even know what time it is supposed to be over! (Is there even a set time for when it is supposed to be over?) Is there any way to make this a safe outing? If I do let them go alone, what time should they go, since seats are not reserved. (Please, please don't let them be trampled...) My son has his heart set on this, and I promised months ago to let him go. How on earth is this supposed to work? Is this completely crazy???


''What you should know about rock concerts'' at http://www.rockmed.org/Show-Tips/tips.htm will give you and your son some good tips. Rock Med provides free health care at many rock concerts in the Bay Area. All the staff is great and the care is of the highest quality. (I used to volunteer with them when my son attended concerts--I could be onsite without being too nearby and it was a cool place for him to stop by. That's probably more than you want to do but you can always go there and get earplugs!) been there


For my very first concert, my mom was savvy enough to invite a ''cool'' older friend, with whom I would not be embarrassed (anyone would do, as long as it was not my mother). It was pretty tame, Crowded House at the Warfield before they changed the seating (ah, memories!), but it was so cool for me to drive up to SF and go to a concert. I also recall my mother roping in another ''cool'' older friend for when my brother wanted to see Dio at the Cow Palace. For the Crowded House concert, I went with a responsible teenager family friend; can't rememeber who went to the Dio concert. As a parent, I think it was very considerate of her to try to spare her kids' feelings. If you have someone you would trust to go with your son, try that. Good luck! Laurel


I too have a 17 year old, and he and his friends (independently) have gone to many rock concerts, including Lalapalooza, which is huge. It's kind of scary to send your kids off to one these gigantic venues, but at the age of 17 -- or even 15 or 16 -- believe it or not, they handle it very well, for the most part. My biggest concern is the availability of alcohol and drugs (primarily pot), which is a concern because some of the kids I know are a little experimental, or downright ready to be substance abusers. however, if you feel your 17 year old is responsible and mature enough, than he should be fine. I would question whether he should be responsible for a younger sibling. How old is the younger brother, for instance, since trying to keep tabs on a younger kid is a brutal repsonsibility in a venue of the size you are talking about. Perhaps he'd be better off taking a same-aged friend. Also, you should tell your son that there are safety officers and emergency healthcare folks available at those concerts. He needs to scope out their tents immediately so he'll know where to go in case of emergency. Also, arm him with a cell phone, in case he really needs to get ahold of you. I've never had a problem with my son going to concerts, and thus far, nothing really awful has happened. hezmodo


The Metallica Concert came and went before I was able to read any of the good advice that people posted for me in the last newsletter! I thought you might like to know how it all turned out. Interestingly enough, left to my own devices, I came up with some of the same ideas. I paid (!!!) for a third ticket so that my son could bring along a friend -- the ''price'' of the ticket was that they would keep each other safe, and that they would make sure that the younger brother had a good time and did not feel left out. My younger son is only 13 -- understand that when I gave permission months ago, I thought that this was a normal ''show'' in a theatre with assigned seats and a reasonable ending time. By now, he had been looking so forward to it and was so excited, that I couldn't just ''change my mind.'' But even this worked out well -- Despite my older boy's fussing mightily about having to bring his brother along, in the end, both he and his friend were touchingly nice to him. (He later told me that his older brother had kept his hand on his shoulder the whole time, so they could not get separated.) He came home glowing.

As for the concert itself, I had had horrible visions of rowdy drunken hordes trampling my poor children with no means of escape. When I dropped them off at Candlestick, and saw the throngs of more or less normal-looking kids, I did feel a lot better! I gave both youngsters cell phones ''just in case.'' We all knew there would be alcohol and drugs, but I knew I could trust them to stay away from those situations. I was much more worried about accidents than I was about misbehaviour.

The only glitch came at the very end. They were supposed to take the shuttle from Candlestick to BART, and catch the last train home, so I could pick them up on this side. They caught the last train all right, in the wrong direction!! So I had to go all the way to Colma to pick them up. A small price to pay -- they had the time of their lives. I was so glad I let them go.

This still leaves me with a question, though. A couple of the people who answered me mentioned safety officers and healthcare tents. That would have been so reassuring, but I had no idea those things even existed! How would I know? I knew nothing about anything, and the only ''information'' number listed anywhere was for Ticketmaster!! I had no idea what time the show was supposed to let out -- and no one could tell me. I had no idea of the implications of ''general admission'' -- and no one could tell me. I had visions of people lining up hours ahead of time to get a good seat. Of course, it turned out that you don't really need a seat at all! I had no way to find out what they would be allowed to take in with them. I packed a lunch, and hoped for the best. (They were forced to throw away their water bottles...) I only found out about the MUNI shuttle to BART by accident. I am not really any more neurotic than the average bear, honest. But not being able to get even the most basic information doesn't make things easy. What does everyone else know that I don't???

By the way, some one suggested a very good website, http://www.rockmed.org/Show-Tips/tips.htm -- but, again, who would have known to look there??? anonymous


Rock concert for 15-year-old?

March 2003

Hi, I am the mother of an almost-15 year old girl who has never been to a rock concert (my daughter, not me). Recently a friend of the same age wanted the two of them to see the Vines at the Filmore. I said no. They are both level-headed kids, but with no experience dealing with that kind of scene. My only point of reference is my own experiences of 30 years ago!

I don't want to keep her from enjoying the music scene. I'm wondering what kind of parameters other parents have set for teens attending concerts. Any venues which people have found particularly inappropriate for young teens? Any advice from parents with some up-to-date knowledge in this area is welcome.


Hi, I have sent my twin girls to rock concerts, supervised, for two years now starting with the Spice Girls. They now go to small clubs for young kids- I musicast in Oakland, for example - and it seems okay. I won't let them go with a group to a place like the Fillmore for a couple more years. If someone sees them go in and is there waiting when they go out, I think fifteen is probably ok. Respond if you like! Kevin


What about going to the concert with your daughter? You can pretend like you are not together so she isn't embarrassed but still make sure she arrives and leaves safely! Who knows, you might even enjoy yourself. My kids are both really into music - one likes alternative music and the other hiphop. They started going to concerts when they were around 15, the first few times with a parent or their aunt, then with a friend, but they needed to be dropped off and picked up by either me or their friend's parent. They went to Gilman St. by themselves on bus/BART at 15-16. By the time they were 17 I'd let them take BART to SF to see a show (at Great American Music Hall or some place like that) and not worry too much as long as they had a cell phone so they could reach me if they needed to.

They never had any problems other than once not leaving the show early enough and missing the BART and having to phone the friend's parent to drive over to SF to pick them up. I wasn't worried that mean people would hurt them or anything like that because most of the places they go are very public and in well-travelled areas. I remember my son at 15 going with his 16-y-old cousin to see No Doubt, I think at the Oakland Colliseum or some similar large place. It was his first big concert. To see a band he liked live, in the flesh, was a major live-changing event for him, both musically and maturity-wise, and I am so glad he was able to do that. Ginger


In response to the question about young teen going to concerts

I was nervous about my daughter going to concerts when she was in Junior High but was greatly relieved once I had discussed this with other friends whose judgement I value. Basically they asked me to verbalize just WHAT I was afraid might happen then I was able to put each fear into perspective. I listed all those things and we talked them through and this one good friend explained the real danger, in her opinion, was the getting there and back! This would also be true whatever event she was attending. In reality the kids are in the same danger where ever they go. Being on the road is statistically the most dangerous place for any of us to be. Be sure to check out who would be driving or if using public transport, that they know for sure, how to access it in the dark and that they know the timetable. Set a definite curfew time and make sure they know that it is OK to call whatever the time, if they need to. A cell phone makes this really convenient and has been a great investment for us. Presumably you have discussed all the normal issues such as staying together, no drugs or alcohol etc. etc.

I feel it is wonderful that these teens show the interest in attending events (rather than staying in and watching TV for example). We support her interests and encourage her to take advantage of as many of the great opportunities that we have here, as is realistic. Money and time limit all of our choices in the end! Good Luck. Deb


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