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Devlyn Brooks, Published May 21 2012

Parenting Perspectives: A dad and his son: Two concert firsts, 25 years apart

As I looked at my son, jamming out to Nickleback’s hit song “Photograph” alongside his buddy at the Fargodome Sunday night, I was instantly transported back some 25 years in time to another rock concert just about this time of year but just a bit farther west in town.

I, too, was in eighth grade, and me and a buddy convinced our parents to allow my older brother to bring us to a concert at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds. The got-to-see band was Cheap Trick and they were the hottest thing on the planet with their new ballad “The Flame.”

The fog of age has obscured many of the details surrounding that epochal night, like how we convinced our parents to allow my 24-year-old brother to bring us to the show and then drive back and stay overnight in Grand Forks, how I even paid for the tickets, or why it was that I had to see Cheap Trick of all the bands that meant something in my youth.

Regardless, that night stands out as singular because it qualifies as the first rock concert I ever attended, and it launched my obsession for chasing arena rock concerts for the remainder of my high school years.

Truthfully, I only remember one song Cheap Trick sang that night: “I Want You to Want Me.” But from the song’s familiar opening solo drums, to the last hard-core guitar riff, that band owned that crowd for those five minutes. And that experience was one I chased after at concert venues all over the upper Midwest for the next six summers.

But as with many firsts, I never again felt that rush of the concert crowd like I did that night sitting on those uncomfortable grandstand bleachers, beer from fellow concertgoers spilling on me and the smell of pungent smoke in the fresh summer evening air. That is, I never again felt that rush until Sunday night when I experienced it through my son’s eyes.

Sure, the venue had changed, and the concert was in doors in a stale arena environment, but so much of that comfortable rock concert experience was palpable I couldn’t help but feel some sort of kinship building between my son and I.

Garrett isn’t one to gush, a familiar family trait is genetically engrained in a long line of Brooks men, but I’m fairly certain he enjoyed himself. How do I know? He made it a point to hang around upstairs to say goodnight to me and give me a hug before heading down to bed, a rarity now that he’s entered that age where being cool comes at a high price.

I likely won’t hear much regarding the concert; he’ll save that for his friends, I’m sure. But even in his Spartan show of emotion, my son told me everything I needed to know: He thought the concert was pretty darn cool.

So, I wonder if when I gazed down that row of seats at the Dome on Sunday, watching Garrett pump his fist in the air while Nickelback belted out another of its pop-rock tunes, pyrotechnics exploding all around, if I might have helped ignite in him that same fever I felt a quarter century ago.

Devlyn Brooks works for Forum Communications Co. He lives with his two sons in Moorhead.