Earlier this year, respected music writer Steven Hyden went on a rant after seeing The National play a show. Writing for Uproxx, the article was titled, “Dear Cool Dads and Moms: Stop Bringing Your Young Children To Concerts.”
Hyden, with young children of his own, made some valid arguments about bringing a child to a loud rock show.
“As a concertgoer, my biggest pet peeve is when some cool dad or mom brings a small child to a show,” he wrote. “Because kids don’t belong there! A kid at a rock show makes me feel self-conscious about the things I like to do at rock shows — drink, swear, scream my head off, dance awkwardly. But as a parent, I really loathe this practice.”
As for why Hyden argued this way, it comes from comparing generations of kids who grew up to become parents.
“The source of my visceral irritation in situations like this is related to the second reason why I think parents take their kids to concerts, which is vanity,” he wrote. “You want to be viewed as the kind of parent who has raised a kid who is already a pint-sized connoisseur, because that clearly reflects back on you as a person who isn’t lame like most parents.”
When this article was brought up and described to The National bassist Scott Devendorf hours before taping a performance on TV, he had this take.
“I will say this: We all have kids and those kids come to shows,” he says. “So obviously I guess I’m in the minority in reference to Steven’s article. I would say do take kids to shows. Definitely there are hazards and there can be problems. They can be moody and you have to cater to their needs.”
Devendorf recently took a child of his own to a concert, and it wasn’t Kidz Bop or Barney.
“We just took our 5-year-old to see Broken Social Scene in our town,” he says. “It was like an eruption. It was amazing. He loved it. Obviously you’ve got to wear ear protection, that which he did. I think if kids enjoy the experience, then take them. If they don’t, then maybe don’t. Maybe go on your own. It’s as good as you make it in a way. Generally I think kids are excited about all the mechanics of the whole thing. Like, the instruments, the lights and this machine.”
The National is a family, consisting of two sets of brothers (Devendorf with his brother Bryan, along with Aaron and Bryce Dessner) and frontman Matt Berninger, all based in the Cincinnati area. They follow in the ranks of fellow Ohio-based heroes like the Breeders, the Afghan Whigs and Guided By Voices. Bryan Devendorf even took drum lessons from original Afghan Whigs drummer, Steve Earle.
The band has steadily released albums and toured and even played shows devoted to an entire record. Albums like Alligator, Boxer and High Violet have all received massive praise. They’re currently supporting their latest LP, Sleep Well Beast.
As they’ve stayed together, the family has grown.
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“There’s more kids in our band than there are band members,” Scott Devendorf says.
Devendorf admits tension is created in a band of two sets of brothers. Maybe one day the members’ kids could create their own band or two.
“I think the feeling in general is, you have to have some conflict to make something,” Devendorf says. “Kind of beat it around a bit and make it to what you want to be.”
The National and Alvvays play Saturday, Oct. 6 at the South Side Ballroom. Tickets are $50-$103.