When you have school-aged children, you ask yourself things like: can I still go to music festivals? The short answer is no, you probably can’t. Or at least you shouldn’t, right? You have baseball games and Tae Kwan Doe classes to shuttle to and even if you bailed on all the kid activities and left them with a babysitter, you’ll feel guilty and broke. Probably best to just give up and put on your weekend cargo shorts because you’ll be needing those impressive pockets.
UNLESS….unless you have an ace in the hole (like my mother-in-law). Then perhaps you could pull it off. Kristen and I gave it a try last month with the Shaky Knees Festival in Midtown. We bought three-day passes, but like a toddler with a three-scoop ice cream cone, we knew this to be overly ambitious. Sunday would never work. Elliott had soccer down in Hampton, which is an awful long way from Midtown, and we had a First Communion dinner for our nephew. We would miss The National play, but paring it down to two days relieved a little anxiety. It’s been a long time since I’ve Lollapalooza-d.
On Friday we worked half days and then UBERed to Midtown. We started with Jimmy Eat World, which is a collection of middle-aged dad rockers so we felt right at home. Kristen and I were pairing up the band members with their respective doppelgangers in our friends group (Dan Payne, Mark Johnson and Ben Thoele, we’re looking at you guys). They played all the songs I know and played them well. It was a great start.
Next we saw Courtney Barnett, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and then Fleet Foxes and still we didn’t feel all that out of place. I mean sure, there were an inordinate amount of bros there. One guy wore a tank top that said “Malibro.” I overheard him telling a friend it was meant to be ironic but the irony escaped me. It was hot and dusty and from the omnipresent scent in the air we learned that marijuana is basically legal now. Unlike the Music Midtowns of my 20s, the after-party plan pretty much only entailed a shower. But actual fun was had. It wasn’t just a situation where I convince myself I’m having fun because things like this used to be fun.
Jack White was the late show and we would have liked to see him, but 9 a.m. soccer is no joke. Don’t call me boring. A proper window of time would be needed to sleep, then handle two soccer games and a dance class before again leaving the kids with Pat. This is highly structured leisure time people.
First up Saturday was a band called Parquet Courts and they had a stripped down, post-punk sound like a mashup of The Replacements and Fugazi. I felt right at home. Manchester Orchestra was fantastic and the War on Drugs guy is like a young Alice Cooper if only Alice Cooper wrote heartbreakingly beautiful songs. Even the food was excellent. We ate some millennial concoction called a Roti and I’m not sure what’s in it but it was nothing short of spectacular.
Then we saw Matt and Kim. You may know this band as I do from their catchy pop tunes and Buick commercials. Which is to say we don’t know this band. Band is almost the wrong word here… more like DJ party people? I don’t know. Sometimes they play instruments, but the music also magically continues while they are dancing atop the drum set. Kristen and I found ourselves ensconced in what I think was our first rave. From the stage it was demanded the crowd party harder or better or something and most obliged. Kim showed her boobs, the music swirled and somewhere amongst the throngs I imagine Malibro was twirling. Our festival meter had officially expired.
Tim Sullivan grew up in a large family in the Northeast and now lives with his small family in Oakhurst. He can be reached at email@example.com.