Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I went to see Heart last night with my family.

I was going to write some typical squealy fangirl fare about how the first album I ever bought with my own money was Dreamboat Annie. I would've probably mentioned my massive girl crush on Ann Wilson. I might've mentioned that their concert shirt is my new favorite favorite - leave it to Ann and Nancy to offer a shirt that is feminine and pretty and SOFT and still has a respectable amount of sleeve. I will wear no sleeves before I'll wear those dumbass cap sleeves that draw a line across the fattest part of my arm. But not my girls. They gave me a PRETTY shirt that I'll actually wear. I love them so much. (Well - they didn't - you know - GIVE it to me - but they provided me with the opportunity to buy it - which is more than I can say for most bands who draw a very firm line between masculine and feminine and the pretty, feminine options are never an option for ME.)

I would've told you about the anticipation I felt - knowing they were backstage - knowing I was already breathing their air. I would've told you about the way I grabbed Liv's hand and screamed when I saw Ann preparing to walk onto the stage. I would've told you about how Nancy still looks like she did when I saw them last - in 1980 - touring Bebe le Strange. Her guitar hero poses are so full of girl-power and feminine/ballsy paradox that it makes me weep in a happy confusion of vulnerability and strength. I love them so much. (I said that before? No apologies. It bears repeating.)

I would've told you that I was singing every word (well, lip synching every word - no-one had paid their hard-earned to hear me sing). I would've probably mentioned that Liv leaned over during Dog and Butterfly and asked me to help her remember which song it was so she could learn it when we get home.

I would've told you all of those things and more, and you would've been pea green with envy.

But these dreams have a way of ending like a needle scratching it's way across a beloved LP. It just hasn't been that kind of summer for me.

About five songs in, I allowed my adoring gaze to leave the stage and take in my family. I just wanted to see if they were all still 'with' me. I wanted to see my own enjoyment reflected back at me through their faces. To my immediate right, Liv was digging it. To my far right, Tom was digging it. But where was Lea? She was sitting down; shaking and crying. Panic attack. Shit. "Do you want to leave?" I mouthed - concerned. It was very hot and crowded. She shook her head in the negative - not wanting to ruin this night for me. Tom offered to take her to the car and said they'd just wait it out in the car until the show was over. I said, no, we came as a family, we'll leave as a family. I thought if we could just get her out onto the concourse, away from the stifling heat and crowd she'd be ok. We could listen to the rest of the show from there and watch it on the screens. Not exactly the experience we'd hoped for, but it would do. (I think the title of my memoir might be in that last sentence somewhere...)

We made our way out of our row (To the great annoyance of all the people we walked in front of, I'm sure. Sorry.) and were immediately descended upon by a team of rent-a-cops. Just one couldn't have possibly handled the imminent threat of a family trying to get some air for their shaking, crying child. They were - hmmmm - less than gentle. They added a heaping dose of humiliation to what was already an unpleasant situation.

We left - about halfway through the show. I spent the whole walk back to the car composing a strongly worded letter to the venue in my head. (It never made it any further than that. They rarely do.) It would've talked about all the people who were actually breaking rules and being public nuisances while their crack security staff concentrated on keeping the perimeters safe from the clear danger presented by my little family trying to make it's way to an exit. It would've talked about money and how long we have to save to buy 4 tickets (and 4 T-shirts) for a show, but that we do it, because exposing our children to music is a priority of ours. It would've talked about how long I've been attending this festival (somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 years) and how, thanks to the quick and completely thoughtless actions of their security folks it is unlikely that I will return. I was attending this festival before I had my children - before I met my husband. It has been a part of me. I am SO over it. My little boycott will hurt no-one but me. I'm not stupid. I know this.

For anyone who might be wondering, Lea started breathing easier as soon as we walked out, and by the time the air conditioner in the car was hitting her full blast, she was fine.

I'm fine, too. It was only one concert. What's that - really - in the grand scheme of things?


Unknown said...

Now why on earth did they descend upon your family? I don't get it.

Cheryl said...

Please write the letter. This bears repeating. Back in early July we had a terrible experience at a venue we're returning to in September. I blogged a letter and posted it. Then I did nothing about writing one for real. This post has stirred me to action.

I'm off to write my letter to the VP right now.

Unknown said...

As moms usually do, you did the right thing. So sorry for Lea, poor girl.

Rosa said...

:( That makes me sad for both of you. I agree, you should write the letter, if only for the sake of being heard. It's a ridiculous reaction for them to have. I'm sorry they ruined this festival for you after all this time. Glad Lea was feeling better once you got out.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I know from anxiety attacks and I'm sorry Lea suffers from them.

And I'm with the others, write the letter. Security is supposed to help not stir the pot up.

I'm taking a few weeks of blogging for vacation. I'll be back Sept. 1st. Talk to you soon, xo jj

Pam said...

Poor Lea! The reaction of the security was beyond unacceptable. And it's really too bad that this festival has now been ruined for you.

Anonymous said...

Write the letter!!! and I hope Lea was ok!!!

Claudya Martinez said...

I'm sorry. As someone who suffers from panic attacks, I sympathize and empathize. I think you should just print up this post and mail it to them.

Vivienne @ the V Spot said...

Wow. I've had anxiety attacks before... not sure they're the same thing... probably less severe. Reading this post out of order, but still amazed by the ridiculousness of the rent a cops and by the class act Heart really is.

Sandy said...

Could there ever be a worse place for a panic attack than in the middle of a concert audience? Poor kid. You did the right thing, of course.

And the security (rent-a-cops) did the wrong thing.

However, I know the eventual outcome of this experience/post (I read backwards sometimes) so I know the band people tried to make it up to you. But again, poor Lea.