Teens & Preteens Going to Live Concerts

Parent Q&A

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  • My child would like us to take them to a concert later this year. Neither I nor my partner have ever been to a gigantic concert (the Chase Center or the Oracle Park type venue) or a professional sporting event, so we have no idea what to expect at these venues. The crowd level looks intimidating. Obviously, we won't be in the mosh pit.  The band is known to drop f bombs on stage and I'm sure there will be drunk / high people. 

    Have you taken your kid(s) to a huge concert at the age range of 11 - 13? We are open to the idea but don't know what to expect. If we get seats in the back, is it worth it? The band will be the size of tiny gnats, but I understand that there will be jumbotrons. If you went, did you stay for the full 3 - 4 hours of the show including opening acts (this sounds exhausting)? 

    I'd love to hear your experiences and any tips on what to expect / how to prepare. Thank you. 

    You absolutely should take your 12 year old to a concert.  How wonderful that they are developing their own taste in music. It's an important job of parents of teens to support their kids' interests, and learn about them. I took my kids to concerts many times starting at a younger age than 12.  I learned a lot about their music, which I still enjoy listening to.  And my kids were open to listening to music that I like too.  As young adults, some of their best memories are concerts they got to attend back in the day when they were young teens.  And even better, we have many musical loves in common and we attend musical events together as adults now, including the opera!

    A place like the Chase Center is huge but it's easy to navigate and you are not going to be in any sort of danger.  There will be many other 12 year olds (and younger!) with their parents in attendance, you can count on that, because the Bay Area is a music-loving place. If you are averse to being in big crowds maybe you should designate another adult to take them. Regarding choice of seats, I personally do not like sitting in the nosebleed seats, especially if it's a performer I really love, but I did it when I didn't have any money, and I still had a fantastic time with many fond memories. But now I'm on mailing lists so I can get good seats.  I would recommend upgrading your seats if you can afford it and if better seats are available, especially since it's your child's first live concert.  But if not, just being there surrounded by other fans is pretty fun too, and like you said, Jumbotron.

    Have fun!

    No, we haven't done this yet but got tix to Green Day at Oracle Park in September intending to take our 13 & 15 year olds. I also feel like I have aged out of big concerts, not that I was ever a huge music lover - but shoutout to the Beastie Boys in Oakland circa 1998 - but felt like for whatever reason, I am more comfortable with a venue that is both outside and seated in chairs. I wouldn't do GA or lawn seating with teens. Personally I would also be ok with telling a 12 year old, nope, you are not ready for this experience, let's see who's touring next year/year after. In the meantime you could try a smaller/chiller venue such as a winery (some places and some shows allow minors) or a potentially intense but closer to home concert experience like 924 Gilman. 

    The band/artist also matters obviously. The Olivia Rodrigo audience is different from Ozzfest. LOL.

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  • Hello,

    My 16 year old daughter has a friend of a friend who goes to a lot of all-ages punk shows in the city. I'm just starting to hear about this scene but am wondering what other parents know about it, along any dimension you'd like to share. I'm not averse to kids going to shows per se- I was in a band for a number of years. Wondering about locations, whether things happen at the shows, safety, drugs, etc. You know- the usual things. Thanks!

    Please give me dates times and locations! I would love to get my daughter and her friends hooked into some kind of music scene.  It seems like a really good alternative to hanging out parks drinking which seems like the post Covid teen world.

    When I was a teen; I was super into seeing live shows at tiny all ages clubs.  To say it saved my life would be an over statement but it provided me with an organizing principle and sense of belonging for my in general mediocre life (ok student, ok athelete, not into clubs or student government) Back them, because the shows were all ages and the organizers and venues were committed to keeping them open, there was not a lot of drinking or drug use.  I imagine it is similar now for the same reasons.

    I know that Gilman Street in Berkeley has a long history of all ages Punk shows and is a great place. Drugs are highly discouraged and there are older mentors there and such. I personally would be more comfortable having her do this close to home where you can transport and monitor better. As we all know teens don’t always tell the truth and though they insist on independence needs those boundaries. I don’t  know about the current scene in SF though. Good luck! 

    I know there's a place called "Toxic Beach" that is really popular- it's outdoor in the waterfront in the DogPatch and seems mostly harmless. I'm curious what responses you'll get as I'm familiar with 924 Gilman and not much else. 

    My 15 yr old has a friend her age who goes to punk shows in sf and east bay. Yesterday he showed me a video from one of the sf ones + I was surprised at the bright lights, but he said a lot of the shows are in restaurants and they keep the lights bright so no one gets hurt. Not what I remember from punk shows, but I think I'd be more wary of shows at people's houses than in actual venues, where laws tend to be followed more often (?). I don't know about the drugs in that scene.

    I was just talking to a friend yesterday about how stoked they were to be doing all ages punk shows, and how we wished we'd had more when we were tiny. IMO punks tend to look out for each other, enjoy having younger folks around, and treat them with care and kindness. The vibe also depends on what venues you are talking about, Gilman is great, i've heard good things about the new farm. If you have concerns, maybe stick to earlier/daytime shows in better known venues, as opposed to warehouse shows or more diy/backyard shows as they may be a little more free for all. Regardless of orientation of your kid, i also think QT bands and shows are the most open and tender. Some of the harder core shows or all guy straight bands can be more intense. I hope she has fun!

    Hello -- as someone who frequented all-ages punk shows in the Bay Area and a parent who has teenagers who also attend, I fully support your kid going!  Generally, all-ages shows are good about restricting access to alcohol or not permitting it altogether.  A lot depends on the venue and the crowd your kid goes with.  I spent countless weekends at Gilman, Epicenter in SF, Bottom of the Hill -- seeing bands, trading zines, and making lifelong friends.  For my own kids, when they wanted to go to shows with friends -- we would initially drop them off and pick them up.  Now they go on their own, with set expectations on when to come home and that, if needed, we will always pick them up.  Be sure to check out "The List" -- upcoming shows/concerts with info if all ages, etc.  Used to be handed out on paper at the end of most Gilman shows, now someone has made an easy to access web version.  http://www.foopee.com/punk/the-list/

    Highly recommend Gilman if your kid is interested. Wish I knew more about the SF venues, but I’ve only attended a handful as an adult whereas I went to Gilman frequently as a teenager. I grew up in the East Bay and have many good memories of seeing bands and meeting people from other schools there. The ethos of punk is to look out for one another, which makes those places safer than they look. The venues are highly motivated to keep drugs and alcohol away because if people are drinking or smoking weed at or outside of the show permits could get taken away. We would usually do those activities somewhere nearby, so I’d suggest maybe having a conversation about that and what your expectations are. I think teens in the younger generation may be less inclined to drink then we were (this is pure anecdote). Hope she has fun! 

  • Hello Wise Community,

    My 17-y-o daughter and her 16-y-o friend have tickets to a concert at The Fox in downtown Oakland on an upcoming Friday night. I appreciate they are working toward responsible independence and plan to take BART. However, this requires them to take an hour long ride from downtown Oakland to the Millbrae station late at night. She has ridden BART occasionally with my husband or I and is not familiar with downtown Oakland. My daughter has ridden the NY subway at night with larger groups of friends, but off before 11pm for shorter rides in more familiar neighborhoods. After hearing recent news stories I’m a bit concerned about the girls on BART late at night. What advice do you have for me?

    With Gratitude 

    Yes your teen can do this. My teen has attended many concerts at the Fox as well as at venues in San Francisco, always taking BART. She says there is always a crowd of people heading to the BART station after the concert. The Fox is right next to 19th Street Station and she will not be the only young person doing this. Keep in touch throughout the trip by phone and remind them to be aware of their surroundings, etc. 

    I’d have them take a Lyft and make sure to take photo of driver and license plate. And make sure driver is a women. Might be more expensive but safer and quicker.

    As the parent of a 19 year old, I would prefer they do not ride back after the concert alone. I would either Bart over to meet them, or drive over and pick them up (there shouldn't be much traffic at night). When my daughter and her friends were that age, they would usually Bart one way to an event in San Francisco and then I would drive over later from Berkeley to pick them up.

    I can't speak to the safety of the Millbrae station, but the Oakland BART station after a concert at the Fox should be fine - lots of people will be walking the short distance from the theater to the station. I've done it myself a few times after a Fox concert and I'm a scaredy cat and it felt perfectly safe. If it's the first Friday, there will be even more people around for the Art Walk and First Friday festival.

    The good news is that their walk to the Fox is incredibly short if they take the Pedestrian walkway that opened a couple of years ago. Take a look at the station map and look at exit A1: https://www.bart.gov/sites/default/files/documents/station/19TH%20Station%20Map.pdf  Essentially they go up the escalator and walk out to Telegraph Ave, turn right, and the Fox is a block away across the street. There should also be lots of people entering and exiting around the same time for the show, which I think is a good thing. That said, as always, awareness is key on any public transit. I'm sure you all know this, but tell them not to bury their heads in their phones or even have headphones in, etc. I truly believe that teens can and should be able to utilize the amazing resources we have available to us here in the bay, so good for you for supporting their independence!

    I would plan on picking them up from the concert. Letting her go to the concert with her friend is great but I would not be okay with being on bart that late at night with only one female friend. Be the hero and pick them up. I'm not sure what a safe age would be for riding Bart at night, I've been hassled by drunks as an adult and wouldn't want my teenager to take that risk.

    The theater is only a couple of blocks from the 19th Street station.  I would assume that there would be a fair number of people heading to the station afterward, and I guess I wouldn't worry too much about that part, but you never know what you're going to get on a given BART train.  I think they'd have to take a Yellow Line [SFO] train at that time of night, which then continues on to Millbrae after stopping at the airport.  Maybe these new unarmed personnel will be on duty; probably not.  They should get in the first car -- immediate access to the operator in case of any issues.  Frankly, I'd pay for an Uber/Lyft or have a late dinner in Oakland myself and pick them up. 

    Hello,  Congratulations on letting your child work on "growing up!"   When my kids are going to be trying something new, I give them some examples of scenarios and possible solutions to the problem.  For instance, I would tell the girls to enter the train car and then walk through the cars until they find one with several reasonable-looking women in it (sorry men!).  I would remind them that they can get up and move between cars if at any point they start to feel uncomfortable.  And there WILL be plainsclothes officers on board at that time of night.  There is also a texting app called "BART Watch."  I would also have them sit in a two-seat aisle, rather than one of the 4-seat areas.  My kids have been taking BART and AC Transit since 6th grade and feel pretty comfortable with public transit.  

    If they get on BART right after the concert, they’ll likely be a larger crowd also doing so. The walk to BART from the Fox is very short. As for the ride itself, I’ve seen some sketchy folks on BART, day and night. I usually try to sit in the front car, as close to the conductor’s door as possible.


    I just wanted to mentioned that BART will now have officers patrolling train throughout the system from 2PM to Midnight.  I just saw the story about the new program on the evening news.  If possible can you do the actual ride one evening before the concert to get a little familiar with the area before the concert.

    Sincerely & I hope they enjoy the concert.

    I think it's great that your daughter will be doing this with a friend.

    If she's 17 that means she's close to college age. It's good for her to have this level of independence now, to test out how it feels and learn what she doesn't know. We all learn best by doing!

    In a year, your daughter will be heading off to college, so taking BART with her friend is good practice for independence. There will be many people walking from the Fox to BART. Will you be there to pick them up in Millbrae? I don’t know how busy that station is at night. 

  • 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

    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!

    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.

    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!

    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. 

    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.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


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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