I spent the weekend at LaureLive, a weekend long music festival hosted by Laurel School, an elite all-girls’ school in Cleveland. I left my boys with their grandparents and got to hang out with my friends, listening to music. The lineup was impressive: Poro, Maya Mougey, Austin Plaine, Verite, Civil Twilight, Brett Fromson, Diana Chittester, Ra Ra Riot, Carly Bins, ZZ Ward, The Accidentals, Andrew McMahon, X Ambassadors, Boy & Bear, O.A.R., Red Wanting Blue, Lee Fields and The Expressions, Who Is David, Eagle Rock Gospel Singers, Nate Jones Band, Coleman Hell, Panama Wedding, Welshly Arms with Contemporary Youth Orchestra, Ripe, Elle King, Brent Kirby, Andy Grammer, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Clubhouse, Judah & The Lion, Grace Potter, and Carlos Jones. They even had a free app that was well-designed and useful.
In the 90-degree sun, I was jealous of the girl who had chosen to wear the colorful sports bra and shorts, until I noticed that she completed her look with socks that went almost to her knees. Not so jealous of that.
Somehow, though, I was unable to turn off mom mode as I listened to the songs.
Swearing. Eh, whatever. My kids know not to do it. If they do, it must be situationally appropriate and grammatically correct (a zombie apocalypse is no excuse for splitting infinitives). As long as other parents don’t get upset at me because my son corrupted their children, and I don’t get a note home from their teachers, I’m good.
Nudity. X Ambassadors sang their song “Naked.” Catchy tune. Playful. Do the kids listen to the lyrics? Is this really going to corrupt them? Other parents here seemed to be okay with it, so what do I care?
That said, while I’ve wanted to introduce my boys to Prince’s music, I review the lyrics before doing so.
Listen, I don’t think you can blame music for corrupting minds. That said, I do cringe when I hear Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” because subtle (or not so subtle) misogyny in songs can seep their way in a mindset that is predisposed to thinking that way. (So maybe I’m completely contradicting myself. Oh well.) People do also listen to a good tune without even paying attention to the lyrics, so everything doesn’t have to be evil.
Music, at its best, helps to connect to emotions. Listening to The Smiths as a teen when I was feeling down just felt good. It drew out the angst, let me feel understood and allowed me to view the angst as capable of creating beauty. Even now, when I’m in a rotten mood, I cling to that mood, take a walk, and pretend I’m one of my characters. At my best, I can tap into my emotions and channel them into my writing.
Other songs have other purposes. Turn on Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and I’ll start dancing around the kitchen. If my kids happen to walk in and become mortified at the sight, all the better.
Back at LaureLive, O.A.R. took the stage and life was good. They put on a great show, and being so close was a great experience.
Then Sunday morning, I learned about the Orlando tragedy, and returning for day two of the festival seemed at once callous and necessary. How does life continue after something like that? How could we go ahead enjoying our day, soaking in the sunshine, when in Florida, people didn’t know if their loved ones were even alive? But it also made it that much more important to cherish the good, to spend time with friends, to live fully.
And then Michael Franti took the stage. Having collected 50 wildflowers and affixing them to his microphone, he stood on stage, donning a white t-shirt with #LoveMatters written on it in Sharpie, and opened his show with a moment of silence for the victims. He sang, united us all, and messages of love and peace healed us. Over and again throughout his set he wandered into the crowd and danced with his fans.
The only moment when I felt a little disconnected was during his artist tribute. He played a recording of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” but then, to honor Prince, he chose an uncensored clip of “Erotic City.” Catchy tune, yes. But at a family-friendly concert (which included bringing a group of 15–20 kids onstage), perhaps he could have chosen to play one of Prince’s other tunes. But then, maybe that’s just me being prude.
All in all, the festival (which, according to a New Yorker who attends festivals regularly, was more of a fair) was well worth the price of admission. Maybe next year, we’ll even bring along our kids.