Last weekend we took our kids to their first real rock n’ roll show. After a couple of years of near misses, our summer schedule finally lined up with Michael Franti’s tour and we bought tickets way back in March for his show in Wilmington, NC. We were pumped, the kids were excited, but really unsure what to expect. They’d been around live music before, but mostly from people they knew playing or street performances. After this weekend, it is quite likely they will be disappointed with any other show they ever attend. Here’s the story.
We wrapped up the family NC beach trip and headed into Wilmington with a long day to burn until show time. We stopped by the venue to check it out and found a super cool little amphitheater that seats about 1200 people tucked into the corner of a lake. A beautiful spot. We made a couple of friends who had decided to set up camp around 11:00 to ensure a good seat and decided to go off to find our AirBnB for the night and maybe score some lunch.
Eventually, our dilly dallying lead us back to the venue since we couldn’t get in our place and we laid out some beach towels and yoga mats, to rest, through some frisbee and just chilled. The kids were curious when they started hearing sounds from the stage so we walked over to check it out. As we did Manas (the drummer) happened to be walking into the venue as well. I took a shot and asked if we could check it out. He said, “Sure. Why not?” and we followed him into the venue. He even told the security guy, “They’re with me”. How cool! So we sat and watched the guitar and drums do a sound check before deciding we might melt if we sat in the sun any longer.
Back outside folks were gathering for the pre concert yoga session so we moved our camp over to that area and ended up on the front row. Which eventually led to Maddox sitting next to Michael Franti when he joined us at the end for some chanting and being just a couple feet away as he did a little acoustic set for us all in the grass. The kids’ minds were blown and we hadn’t even made it to the actually concert yet. (ok, my mind was blown too)
Fast forward to the actual show. We walk down to the front as the first act was wrapping up and find our friends we had made earlier in the day (the 11:00ers) and stand with them on the front row. The opening acts are fun and the pre-Michael music has the whole crowd dancing and singing. Josie on my shoulders and the sun is going down. Its loud, its fun, and we’re all full of smiles.
Now I have to rewind to the car ride to the venue. We had talked with the kids about how Michael likes to get kids up on stage to dance or sing with him. Maddox wasn’t having that. In fact, one of the last things he said as we walked into the venue was something like, “There is no way I’m getting up on that stage in front of that many people.”
Yep. Just a few songs into the show and the stage manager leans over to Maddox and asks if he knows the words to the song. He was a bit confused by the question, but Robyn leaned over and yelled, “Yes!” The next thing we know, there’s our boy on the stage with Michael Franti, holding a microphone and singing “The Sound of Sunshine” in front of “all those people”! We cheered, we laughed, we cried. Heck, I’m tearing up a little almost a week later just writing about it. It was an absolutely amazing, out of this world, beautiful moment. We had that album on repeat in our car when he was 2 and its been a family favorite ever since. Surreal.
The poor guy almost collapsed when he got off stage and joined us common folk back in the crowd. But the adrenaline didn’t let him down and he rocked all the way through the next hour plus to the show finale of “When the Sun Begins to Shine” in the rain. A perfectly magical way to end a magical day. We hustled to the car in the pouring rain, laughing, singing, soaked and every one of us grinning ear to ear.
Sometimes, the stars align and the day rolls out better than you could ever expect it and you really can hear the sound of sunshine coming down.