my son the rising rockstar v: 50 minutes of fame

They take the stage. With the lights turned on between sets I can see water dripping from the ceiling above the stage mike. Melting snow on a leaking roof. I resist the urge to help them set up their instruments and amps. They know what they’re doing. Bob, the lead member, got here early and snagged a parking spot by the backstage door. Everyone helps with the drums. Bob gets splashed in the face and pulls the mike out of the drip zone. The drummer isn’t here. He’s still at work. He has no cell phone. It’s assumed – strongly hoped – he’ll show at the last minute.

He shows. After a group tuning, they start. It’s immediately apparent they have an original style, albeit a bit off the mainstream. Their place in 21st century music is not unlike that of The Police who, 30 years ago came out with an almost Gregorian Chant style of music in a world of traditional three-chord rock ‘n’ roll.

Seeing my son on stage playing original music, with a crowd watching him and his band, sparks a feeling of appreciation for the work he’s done, and pride in what he’s producing. It’s also cause for concern. There are drunk, obnoxious people here. One young man is almost out of control and comes close to whipping a bottle at the stage. Someone buys him another beer and he goes back to throwing darts.


The men’s room floor is wet with urine. The amps are turned up so loud the metal heating duct in the wall is vibrating. Young men are lined up at the urinals. I duck into the sit-down stall. Someone has vomited all over it. I swallow hard and look straight ahead above it all. At any given time a third of the patrons are out front on the sidewalk smoking. I go outside. The music is so loud that it sounds just right on the sidewalk.


Aptly named, Aggressive Betty starts shoving their equipment on the stage as the last chord rolls off my son’s guitar, like Marines taking an island and jamming a flag in the soil. Their egos need no amplifiers. As they launch into their first song, a drop of water splashes off the mike, right in the singer’s eye, causing him in all his arrogance to be startled and lose his rhythm.


Next morning at work, my voice is hoarse.


“Rich, are you sick?” 

“No, I was cheering for my son’s band last night.” 

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