Are rock concerts safe for early teens?
February 6, 2015 1:29 PM   Subscribe

My 13-year-old, eighth-grade daughter wants to go to see Pierce the Veil and Sleeping with Sirens at The Electric Factory in Philadelphia next month with a girlfriend the same age. Assuming that a parent drops them off and picks them up, is this safe?

The Electric Factory has concerts which are age-restricted, but this is listed as "for all ages." She listens to these bands all the time, so I'm not worried about the content of the show. I'm worried about her security. Will a lot of the attendees be drunk or stoned? Will it be so crowded or confusing that we might have trouble finding her after the show? Are there any other problems she might run into? Or is this as safe as dropping her off at the symphony would be? I know nothing about the venue, and nothing about the kinds of audiences these particular groups might attract. We let her go to ComicCon in Philly with a group of friends last spring, without incident. But somehow a rock concert at night seems more dangerous to me. Am I over-reacting?
posted by ubiquity to Grab Bag (45 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience, there's a parent who stays for the show.
posted by vitabellosi at 1:31 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Absolutely not. A parent should be there. Do you know what kind of creepers hit on 13 years olds?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:33 PM on February 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

Yeah, just chaperone them. 13 is too young to go alone.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 1:34 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I would rather spend the evening being hit over the head with a hammer than attend a concert for these groups. But sure, if a parent is willing to attend, problem solved. I'm asking about them going on their own.
posted by ubiquity at 1:34 PM on February 6, 2015

At 13, there needs to be a responsible adult there with her. Going alone probably not until 15 at minimum, maybe more like 16.

Sorry, sis. Bring ear plugs.
posted by grouse at 1:37 PM on February 6, 2015 [15 favorites]

Yeah, nth-ing that supervision is required. Sorry.
posted by The Michael The at 1:40 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

At her age I went to plenty of shows alone. Chaperone is needed.
posted by beccaj at 1:41 PM on February 6, 2015 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Philly resident here. The Electric Factory is a bad idea for 13 year olds. Most shows are general admission, so it's not like people take their seats and sedately stay there for the performance and clap and then get up and go home.

In contrast, if they were going to the Mann or someplace else like that, I'd feel OK about it.

Also, the area around it has gotten better in the last few years, but the only thing outside are bars, creepers, and empty industrial area that is either super-deserted or full of aforesaid bars and creepers.
posted by joyceanmachine at 1:43 PM on February 6, 2015 [8 favorites]

I'd also confirm the age restriction with the venue - In my experience "all ages" can often mean "18 and up" (to differentiate from "21 and up").
posted by jalexei at 1:44 PM on February 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

Unfortunately, I do not think this would be safe for a pair of 13-year-olds. I'm comfortable sending early teens on public transit and to many destinations sans chaperon, but 13 is still too young to attend a concert without an adult.

I'm an adult now, but I still plan to deal with the following when attending concerts: being physically pushed around, being offered drugs, being scoped out as a victim of petty theft ("But I didn't even put my bag down!"), or being groped. That's a lot for a 13 year old. By 16 and with a little more life experience, they will be better prepared to meet these challenges.
posted by samthemander at 1:45 PM on February 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

Does she have a cool sister / aunt or someone else to take her? My sister's friends would take me to all agers shows. I would be ok to let an 18yo take her.

I went to a lot of these in my day and never got hit on or given drugs, they were all pretty benign but those mosh pits got pretty moshy at times. (yea i'm that old)
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:46 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maaaaaaybe if you and the kids knew the venue well, and the kids were used to being on their own in adult crowds, and there was an adult waiting outside the venue the whole time I might consider it, but I'm pretty far out there on the Free Range Kid spectrum, and even I would rather be there to supervise.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:46 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I went to a lot of shows when I was 12/13 with similar aged friends. For small local stuff a parent would drop us off. For big shows like the one in question, yeah, a parent or responsible older sibling should be there. Depending on timing this may be legally required - based on Google it looks to me like Philly has a curfew law. The equivalent big club we went to (DC's 9:30 Club) did not allow minors to be in the club unsupervised after midnight.
posted by capricorn at 1:46 PM on February 6, 2015

I know nothing about the venue, and nothing about the kinds of audiences these particular groups might attract.

Just caught this - almost all of the audience will be teenage girls for those two particular bands. But still, a big-name act in a large venue to me merits supervision.
posted by capricorn at 1:48 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah - I would be comfortable sending two 13-year-olds with a savvy 18-year-old. It's not like the 13-year-olds will need someone to physically intervene for their safety; they simply need a safety net.
posted by samthemander at 1:48 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is not at all safe. A parent needs to go with them. Tween girls are prime targets for harassment -- I say this a former tween who was sexually assaulted at a concert by an older male who thought groping me was a great idea. Wish it weren't the case. Do they have an aunt or an older sister who might be willing to go with them?
posted by Hermione Granger at 1:48 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Keep in mind, too, that you will not be the only bored/tortured parent at the show. A lot of shows I went to at that age, there was a solid contingent of parents hanging out and drinking by the bar at the back of the floor.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:51 PM on February 6, 2015 [8 favorites]

As someone who was allowed to do stuff like that I wouldn't let her go. She'll definitely get hit on by much older guys and the only guys hitting on 13 year olds are creepers. And they serve alcohol. The odds are she'll survive unharmed but I don't think 13 year olds need to experience that.

If she was going in a large, preferably mixed gender group to a seated show aimed at teens at a stadium or other no alcohol venue I'd consider letting a kid that age attend without a parent or sibling as a trial run grown up thing. Two girls, alone at a club type venue? No way in hell.
posted by fshgrl at 1:52 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, I guess I should clarify. You want to be at the show so she has someone she can immediately go to if she's in a spot and doesn't know how to get out of it ("hey, you wanna go to the bar down the road"/"you have to meet friend X who's outside", whatever). You don't need to be standing right next to her at 13, physically defending her, you just need her to know that she has someone in the room who can help her out right then -- not a phone call away.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:57 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm a very liberal, non-hovering parent and I would not let my kids go to a show like this unaccompanied at 13.
posted by _Mona_ at 2:03 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

It is my experience that an all ages show means just that, all ages, no alcohol. I dropped my 14 year old daughter and two friends off at the Meadowlands (Brendan Byrne) for radio station shows. I thought they were safe. They thought so afterwards too. For the first show, I actually sat in my car in the parking lot with some chinese takeout, the newspaper and Sirius 23.

If I were to do it again, and I would, I would make sure it was a group of girls between 3 and 5 of them. No more. Accountability breaks down with too many of them and too few sort of skews the perception of safety in numbers. Make sure they have cell phones with batteries CHARGED and know they need to respond to check-in texts in a timely manner. I went all the way up to the turnstiles to make sure they got in correctly.

I sent my 15 year old son on the train to Grand Central with one buddy to see Time Flies (whatever that band is) at a small venue in Manhattan. They met up with friends there.

The only caveat I give is that I have no idea who these two bands are you daughter wants to see and what crowd they will attract. I don't think I would have let my daughter see a metal band.
posted by 724A at 2:07 PM on February 6, 2015

I went to concerts at this age, but I was chaperoned by various "cool" friends of the family. So, it wasn't like my parents were there (so embarrassing!), but I was there with a cool adult who I trusted.

I started to go to shows on my own when I was 16 and better able to handle sketchy situations. A lot depends on the maturity of your child and how street smart they are.
posted by quince at 2:09 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I add that if I went, ear plugs are the best buy in the local Walgreens type store. Cheap. They will cut the decibels in half.
posted by 724A at 2:09 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

It depends on the kids. Will they be freaked out if they are hit on or have to deal with weird drunk people a lot older than them? I would be at 13; my son however would not. If they and you are comfortable handling those situations and they have cell phones and clear instructions about how to find security if something comes up, then okay. But a chaperone on the building (hire a college student?) would be nicer.
posted by metasarah at 2:10 PM on February 6, 2015

Also, I don't think it's unsafe in a "they might be killed or kidnapped" sort of way at all, assuming they can be trusted to stay together and in the building. It is only unsafe in a "they might get into a situation they're really uncomfortable with" way.
posted by metasarah at 2:13 PM on February 6, 2015 [13 favorites]

I would vote for an onsite chaperone until 15. That is what happened to me and my friends.
posted by Julnyes at 2:14 PM on February 6, 2015

This is the kind of thing i did by myself at that age, and with the stuff i've seen since then i probably wouldn't let me go to that show by myself.

Nthing the cool older sister/etc who would want to go, or could be bribed in to going thing.

Also seconding the uncomfortable thing metasarah brought up. It's more of a "get spit on for ignoring or rebuffing some assholes advances" situation than anything. But, almost every single woman i know, in a very artsy/musical group of people has stories of uncomfortable shows from their early teens, pretty much. The exceptions are people who mostly went to youth-focused small venues, or just weren't really allowed to go to shows.

It's worth noting that i'm a guy, but i still had some weird experiences. I also witnessed or heard about immediately after a lot of uncomfortable/dumb shit. Nothing truly bad ever happened until we were all basically in college, but it was just... uncomfortable shit.
posted by emptythought at 2:17 PM on February 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

There's also something about two girls alone. I went to tons of shows at that age with my siblings and our friends (we are all within 2 years in age, boys and girls) and it was fine. Going alone with another girlfriend though, is like wearing a shirt that says "I'm here to meet boys!" which they might be but that's another story....
posted by fshgrl at 2:32 PM on February 6, 2015

Just FYI, "All ages" only means "no alcohol" sometimes. Much of the time it means that they'll be carding at the door and wristbanding everyone over 21. Check with the venue on that. If it's a no-alcohol show, I'd be more inclined to say let them go, and you wait in the parking lot or what have you.

I don't have any real creeper stories from shows, despite having been a very small female person at a lot of sketchy venues over the years. But I will mention that I got punched in the face last year when a mosh pit (not really a pit, just two shitheads who'd had too much of whatever chemical) got out of hand. Not a big deal. But I was 32. Not sure I would have handled it well if I'd been 13.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:47 PM on February 6, 2015

I snuck out to see the Chili Peppers when I was 14. It was a fabulous show and while technically 18+, I had a vaguely believable id. I bought one beer and held it for the opening band, and then while the Chilis were playing I was too busy in the mosh pit to try to hassle with any other drinks. Some dudes hassled me a bit, but I was with friends and it wasn't that big of a deal.

While standing around after the show, I was fortunate enough to meet and talk to Anthony Kiedis and Flea. Anthony promptly put his arm around me and starting flirting and making nice. After a few minutes of chatting me up, he stopped and said, "Just how old are you?"
Stupidly, I responded, "My real age or the one it says on my id?"
He gave me a kiss on the cheek and told me to go home and come back in a couple of years.

While technically an adult was looking after me that night, the 20-something rocker cannot always be relied upon to exhibit such good judgment. I had two older friends with me (old enough to drive but still not old enough to get into the club) and I stuck pretty closely with them. But neither one of them would have gotten in my way if I'd wanted to take off with Kiedis. One of them is still a little peeved I blew the chance.

If I'd lied about my age better, or stumbled into a situation with less aware individuals, the night might not have been such a happy memory. As it was, I have a fabulous story to tell at parties and my folks still don't know I snuck out that night.
posted by teleri025 at 2:51 PM on February 6, 2015 [16 favorites]

Philly-area show-goer here: nth-ing everyone else, you can't send a 13 year-old to a Factory show without adult supervision, full stop. Also, my dad attended shows with me until I was TWENTY-ONE, with earplugs in and a hilarious scowl on his face, because I liked having him there with me. So you don't like the music: whoopty-shit. Your kid will roll her eyes now, but she WILL remember if you care enough to accompany her.
posted by julthumbscrew at 3:39 PM on February 6, 2015 [12 favorites]

I, too, say go with your daughter and her friend or, like quince suggested, send them with a trusted, "cool" adult family friend. Frankly, even if they're somewhat embarrassed by the idea, they'll likely also be grateful when they get there. And you don't have to hover: you could always stand somewhere you can see them but where they feel a bit more independent. Likewise, you can quietly speak to the employees (security, bouncers, what-have-you on the floor) upon your arrival and ask them to please you keep an eye on them. (I'm sure you can do this privately -- or at least very quietly -- and they would be more than glad to oblige.)

I think it's super, super awesome that you're willing to let them go: I know it'll mean the world to them. They might love it, they might feel overwhelmed, they might feel disappointed but it's nice that you all can share the experience!

Finally, I promise you that 99% of the crowd won't notice or care that you're there; in fact, many would be very touched to see that you, as a parent, are there so your child can see their favorite band. I know I'd be and I say this as an adult who goes to rock shows all the time, from basement punk shows to more mainstream acts at bigger venues.
posted by smorgasbord at 4:18 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Just more nth-ing here. As someone with permanent tinnitus from only going to a handful of shows, I recommend they get special earplugs made for music that reduces the dB but keeps the sound intact, or moving to a slightly less loud spot if the audio is loud enough to be painful or cause distortion within the ear. Not sure if these earplugs are available in local stores, but maybe. Small venues can get piercingly, dangerously loud.

Also, I would not let them go alone at this age. As a previous teen that was show-going for a while, it would be better for someone to accompany them. Some venues can be pretty seedy or in those kinds of areas. I know we sometimes tend to underestimate teenagers and their ability to handle themselves, but I'd really be uncomfortable letting them go alone at 13.
posted by kup0 at 4:26 PM on February 6, 2015

I would be a little hesitant letting an 8th grader go alone to a show. Fortunately when I was that age, my best friend's older brother took us to shows. Then he graduated from high school and there was a lull when we weren't quite old enough to go alone. My mom paid this 20-something guy she knew (I think he was a groom at the riding stable we went to?) to take us to see 311 once when were like 14. If you don't have a cool nephew or anyone, do you know someone who has a responsible older kid who you could hire to take them?
posted by radioamy at 6:05 PM on February 6, 2015

My daughter and friends attended an Ariana Grande show there two years ago when they were 13 and 14—I took them there and waited in line with them for hours until it was time to go in, then they were off with their group of Twitter friends to see the concert. I followed along via Twitter as they posted updates every few minutes, and was there waiting for them to pick them up when the concert was done and they'd finished their meet-n-greet. HOWEVER. 1) it was an afternoon concert, and 2) it was 2012/13 Ariana Grande, which meant the audience was 99.9% young teenaged girls with bows in their hair and flouncy skirts on. In other words, the creep factor was low, and I was one of a whole bunch of mothers who escorted their girls to the venue and dropped them off. YMMV in terms of the kind of music this particular concert is and the kind of audience it draws. (And yes, that area is pretty sketchy. I wouldn't have let them travel there by themselves or even wait in line by themselves, though as it turned out there were a ton of parents there.)
posted by mothershock at 6:23 PM on February 6, 2015

I've been the "cool adult" chaperone to someone else's 13 year olds at a show, and I have to say, yeah, there really needs to be someone there who can tell the difference between "Gosh, what a nice guy!" and "Back the fuck off, bucko." I usually have to run interference somewhere between 3 and 5 times a night in those situations -- usually saying "They're with me, and they're too young for you" is enough, but I've had to physically place my body between my charges and the guy who "just wanted a dance, jesus, what is wrong with you" a couple of times. There's never been any imminent threat to safety or anything -- they aren't going to get knifed or taken -- but there are a lot of guys out there who are either really bad at telling young women's ages or really good at pretending to be really bad at it.
posted by KathrynT at 6:42 PM on February 6, 2015 [7 favorites]

I went to a concert at that age accompanied by my 17 year old brother and his girlfriend, but it was a smaller show at a theater style venue, and I wasn't allowed to go to concerts totally alone (or probably with friends) until I was 16 or 17. I think you need to go with her, not necessarily to stand right next to her but to stay somewhere close where she can escape to if necessary.
posted by MadamM at 7:31 PM on February 6, 2015

Nthing that whether alcohol is served at "all ages" shows is totally dependent on state and municipal liquor laws plus what the venue feels will work best for them given those legal restrictions; maybe no alcohol at all, maybe some physical separation between the under-agers and the drinking area, maybe just someone checking ID at the door and marking over/under by hand stamps or wristbands.

It's always worth a call to the venue to find out what the booze policy will be for any given show your tweens/teens are thinking of attending.

nothing about the kinds of audiences these particular groups might attract.

It took me 10 seconds of watching a video from each of the bands to say with a high degree of confidence that things will be pretty chaotic, especially since it's a general admission show. There will probably be a bunch of early-twenties guys there flailing around like fools even if they're stone-cold sober. And it only takes one poorly placed arm-flail to accidentally give someone a bloody nose.

They need some kind of adult (ish) supervision/backup onsite, preferably inside with them.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:45 PM on February 6, 2015

Best answer: The Factory is an industrial, non-cozy venue. Think concrete, huge, loud, and cold blue lights. I'm a Philly girl, and have attended Factory concerts. The under-21 group is shunted to ground floor, the over-21 goes upstairs, where there are bars. However, it's not a friendly place. It's cold, standing room only, and $5.00 for a Coke. I think your daughter and her friend would feel very uncomfortable, lonely even, lost in this place without an ally. It's hard without any sort of chaperon or softener for the environment. I'd suck it up and buy a ticket. Stand in the back with earplugs ( there aren't any seats, anyway. Everyone stands). Make sure your daughter has a charged cell so she can text if she feels uncomfortable, and $20.00 so she can buy her friend a soda.

Just be there for them. They will feel more secure if they have someone in their corner if someone sketchy comes on to them, and they will remember it forever.
posted by citygirl at 8:07 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

All of the "all ages" shows I've ever been to have had wristbands or something for those over 21 to go into the bar area. They can freely leave the bar area and go into the "all ages" area as long as they don't have a drink with them. Sometimes there's a separate entrance those who are underage need to use, such as a backdoor in an alleyway instead of the main entrance to the club.

So, you've got drunk adult men mixing with teenage girls. This leads to exactly the sorts of situations you might expect.

Where I live some of the "all ages" shows aren't really all ages -- there is a minimum age, and they want to see some sort of ID. Check on this.

I don't know anything about this venue or these groups, but in practice it seems like "all ages" is code for having large groups of mostly (there are usually bouncers who toss people in the alleyway if they see punches thrown or something) unsupervised teens.

We let her go to ComicCon

I find the atmosphere at comic conventions I've been to is very different than at rock concerts. Very.
posted by yohko at 8:23 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I grew up in NYC and was a club kid. Don't let her go without an older adult chaperone. She will not be safe and it's not a debatable point. As an parenting reference point, my kids have gone unchaperoned into Boston and to Comic Con and have taken trips to NYC since they were 13/14. But I wouldn't let them go to any all-ages show unless I was there as well.

Even someone who's 18 may not really watch out for her; ideally, you should go.

And you should confirm what "All Ages" means; in my experience, it means 18+ and she'll need an ID.
posted by kinetic at 5:59 AM on February 7, 2015

Based on the teen appeal of those bands, it is not going to be 18+, but it never hurts to check.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:05 AM on February 7, 2015

Dad had his girlfriend at the time accompany me to Rush when I was 14. While it seemed like a drag at the time, now I'm grateful for it - because I wouldn't have been able to go at all otherwise.

And thanks to the chaperone as well; she had to tolerate a LOT of girl squealing because OMG GEDDY! !!!
posted by spinifex23 at 4:47 PM on February 7, 2015

Also - while you might hate the music and think of it as just horrid noise, this might turn out to be one of your daughter's most fondly remembered concerts. I'd just go with her and chaperone her.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:31 PM on February 7, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for their comments. I told her she could only go if she found an adult chaperone. Her cool older brother (who unfortunately does not live nearby) has promised to take her to a concert when he's in town sometime, and she was very excited about that.
posted by ubiquity at 11:37 AM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

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