A Guide to Bringing Your Kids to Phish

3. Bring Plenty of EVERYTHING

Water, snacks, meals, sunscreen, juice, rain gear (much needed at SPAC last summer), toys, extra clothes–pack like you are going camping–you don’t want to be without anything your kids may need for fun, shelter, food, etc…

4. Bring Headphones

Go on Amazon and look for the brand Peltor. They cancel out all of the sounds that could be bad for your kids’ ears.

[#6 on our B List - 10 Kiddie Phish Videos]

5. Find a Seat That’s Best For Your Kids, Not For You

SPAC has a great lawn section for people with families. It’s flat, open, and there are other kids there. Not sure what other venues have. If you really want to be able to make it through the show, don’t worry about sitelines. You can hear the music.

6. Have A Plan

My wife was really amazing with this whole experience. She is not really a phan, but knew how important this was for me. We made a plan, that I was in charge of our son for the first set, and if we were still there, she would take care of him for the second set.

So, how did it turn out for us? We played at a playground for three hours before the show. Ate some dinner, then went inside and found a questionable spot on the lawn. Then the rain came–I had my son in my kid backpack, found some shelter to wait out the storm and then we moved up to the upper lawn where we found some other kids and families. Our boy ran around the upper lawn for a while (with me hot on his tail) and, around 8:45, fell asleep on my shoulders. At set break, my wife settled into her camping chair with him, and he slept until we were walking back to our car after Highway To Hell.

Hopefully, this helps someone planning to bring kids this summer. The one thing I have to stress, which hopefully I don’t really need to…put your kids first. If they are miserable, don’t be so self-important that they have a terrible night. You’ll have plenty more opportunities to see Phish.

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37 thoughts on “A Guide to Bringing Your Kids to Phish

  1. Ryan D Reply

    If you want your kids to get a great musical experience in a safe place with really good natured people, I’d recommend Telluride Bluegrass.

    It’s head and shoulders above anything else I’ve ever been to in terms of a community. You could probably drop your kids off and pick them up at the end of the weekend and I bet they would be looked after the whole time and leave with 20 new friends.

  2. todmandu Reply

    As a parent and a phan, I think that all parents have their own comfort level, and should follow their insticts. If you dont want to bring your child, dont, find a babysitter. I you are thinking about it, this article gives some good pointers. While phish is not the ideal place for toddlers, that does not mean that they should not be welcome, or that they can’t enjoy themselves and feel safe.
    I took my 2.5yr old to the Gorge last summer for his first phish show. We found a nice flat spot near other families and nice sound and sightline. He had a great time, calling out colors from CK5, and sleeping most of the second set. I packed up all our stuff mid set, continued to boogie down, and we left before the encore to beat the rush out. It was great.
    I have been taking him to festivals since he was 4 weeks old, and he has always been the priority. Phish has taught me that music is a wonderful thing, not just hearing it, but seeing it as well, and the sense of community that you get at shows and festivals. I have seen many a musical event, and will continue to for as long as I can take it, and I want to share that with my child, have it be a part of his life as it is mine.
    PS. Earplugs/muffs are a MUST HAVE. Whether or not your child appreciates the phish scene, they will appreciate hearing their own music when they are older!

  3. Alex Reply

    Don’t forget bubbles, bring lots of them and blow them at the guy who is constantly bummed out by seeing breastfeeding at Phish shows!

  4. B Reply

    Don,
    If you would step back and listen to yourself I think you’d see that you’re the one being “selfish” here…who the hell are you to tell other phans what is right and wrong etiquette about going to shows? If other people having a good time (whether they’re 2 or 92) upsets you then you’re completely missing the point about what Phish is all about. Get over yourself and just enjoy whatever shows you happen to get to this year.

  5. Kerrie Gallagher Reply

    My husband and I plan to bring our 3 small boys (5 and under) to SPAC for both nights this June. I’m thrilled. It’s my 91st and 92nd show and their first (outside the womb). The lawn is the best place for them to enjoy their first experience and I can’t wait. Thanks for the pointers Allan.

  6. Alan Reply

    You’re Welcome Kerrie! As I said, SPAC upper lawn is perfect for kids!! There’s also a great playground in one of the smaller parking lots in the park, a lot more chill than the lots, with people grilling, throwing frisbees, and meandering through the creek.

  7. Leanne Reply

    Thanks for the tips and sharing your experiences. My husband and I love live music and want to share this with our daughter, and last summer she went to her first phish show. Next weekend we’ll be going to Cuyahoga Falls and she’ll be coming with us (of course, because she comes almost everywhere we do). To protect her hearing we only bring her to shows that are outside, and we have headphones that she’ll wear. We wear her in our ergo carrier after dancing, watching the light show, blowing some bubbles and listening to some great music, she falls asleep on my back quite content. It’s hard for me to read some of these posts, I can’t believe one’s right to smoke a bowl or not witness breastfeeding should trump one’s right to attend a great outdoor show (yes, children have rights too!). I realize some people go to phish shows to get smashed and for this reason we take extreme care and stay sober ourselves and put our daughter’s feelings and needs first… just like Alan mentioned.

    At concerts, protests, restaurants, and parties… on boats, airplanes,bikes and subways…. there is room for EVERYONE, and if we all treat others like we want to be treated we can all have a great time.

  8. jen Reply

    this is wonderful, thank you. my husband and i plan on taking our 3 kids to a show this summer. it’s outdoors, and we plan on staying way back. we bought them earplugs, do you reccomend headphones instead?

  9. Colleen Reply

    This is great! We’re bringing out 2 year old daughter to the show this Sunday as SPAC!

  10. Jim Reply

    When I was younger and seeing Phish in the early 90′s, I may have frowned upon parent’s bringing their kids to shows. But the bottom line is “It’s your choice”. I brought my 3 & 5 year old kids to see Phish at Merriweather this year and it was great. They had so much fun and they love the music.

    For the most part, I found that the other fans didn’t mind kids at the shows. I would never want others to feel that they need to behave themselves around them, or feel self-conscious smoking, drinking or whatever they might like to do. Assholes will be assholes, no matter what their state of mind. Just treat me and my kids with respect and we”’ do the same! We all just want to have a fun time!

  11. Voice of Reason Reply

    I respect every parent’s right to make the decision of what is best for their kids. I cannot tell a parent where to take their children or not but I would never take my kids to Phish shows. Yes, there are those parents that come in (and remain) 100% sober for the entire experience and are appropriately equipped for the event with food, drink, toys, earplugs/headphones, etc. For every family like that, there are 5 that don’t succeed in good parenting at shows. I have seen too many spent toddlers slumped over in their strollers, dirty, sweaty, sunburned and now trying to get some sleep late in the night with party people doing their thing all around them. I’ve seen little ones in nothing but a dirty diaper, covered in shmutz and putting random stuff in their mouth from the ground while the parents boogie down and I am not talking about the kids of tour rats or wooks as they seemed to be called nowadays. I’ve seen kids in the “family area” of an event’s GA lawn area wandering around, crying because they got separated from their parents. I could go on and on.
    Anytime a parent brings their children to a show that is meant to entertain young and mature ADULTS, they are acting selfish. You can sugar coat it any way you want to. You can cite dozens of examples of “successful” family outings to jam shows but all you need is one example of a good time gone bad to see that having your kid at a show is just exposing them to risks they don’t need to be exposed to. Let’s face it, whatever substance you want to put the blame on, shows are full of those who are intoxicated or under the influence. That is the majority of people, not the minority. Of course there are many straight people there too but the crowd is overwhelmingly wasted and the wasted (especially young and wasted) don’t care about your kids’ wellbeing. There is much you cannot control such as the wasted guy who decides to drive his car out of the lot. Multiply that by a thousand legally over the limit drivers and then stick you and your kids in another vehicle, driving out among them. You can only control your own actions and it is the behavior of others that is often the problem. The bad behavior of others is the wild-card which you cannot predict. You do not need to expose your kids to that. One tragedy and you will forever regret your decision to take your kids to such an environment. Yes, you can wish all you like that Phish shows were more family friendly and that people not act like asses but it won’t change. No need to be in denial about it or think in a delusional manner.
    I’ve been going to dead and phish shows for 3 decades now and I don’t get wasted. I stay with my group who are like me. Even so, I’ve been puked on, pissed on, had multiple drinks accidentally poured on me, been pelted in the face with light sticks, been groped by mystery hands and have seen drugs and paraphernalia lying about on the ground or being actively used. No doubt the owners of the drugs and paraphernalia didn’t want them to be on the ground and would rather have them in their pockets but it happens anyway. When it is dark out on the lawn, and people are constantly milling about your spot, don’t you think it is impossible for someone to drop something near your child without you seeing it? Is it unthinkable that your child could pick that something up, again without you seeing what it is or thinking it is something fine that you gave them…again because it is dark out and you are not giving your kid your primary attention. Ya, every parent says that their kid is their 1st priority at a show and that they watch them like a hawk but if you are listening to the music, watching the light show, dancing, talking to you neighbor, etc (even sober) it is impossible to see everything. Who would go to a show where they look at nothing and listen to nothing but their kids every single second? You are going to look away at some point. You are going to listen to something other than them at some point. Why take these risks when you do not have to? Most parents do it because THEY want to see the show. They say they bring the kids for the benefit of the kids or family and that their kids love the experience. Bullshit. It is selfish parenting, plain and simple. People find ways to justify everything and I’ve heard all the reasons over the years. Maybe Phish will be retired down the road but there will always be another band to fill the need. The music and the scene will go on. Phish or another band like them will still be there for you when your kids have grown up and you will be free to rage on as you like without trying to parent at the same time.
    There are risks for you and your family everywhere you go, even while “safe” at home. You cannot raise your kids in a bubble and expect hide them away until they are young adults nor should you but why expose them to risk when you don’t have to? You also, as an adult, are entitled to a life and fun times but there are things that are appropriate for adults and not for kids. Their odds of being harmed in some way go way up when you walk out your door and then rise exponentially once you then walk into a show with them. Is it really worth that risk? If you cannot bear the thought of leaving them with a family member, friend or babysitter for hire, then stay home with them and download the show the next day. Funny that people won’t leave their kids with “strangers” but have no problem navigating them through a wasted crowd of thousands of strangers at a show.

    Age appropriate concerts are awesome for kids. If you want a fun live musical experience for your kids, take them to see Dan Zanes. His is a show that is meant for kids. It starts and ends at kid-friendly times. The music is great for all ages and contains no sexual or drug references. You are not likely to watch some high and horny young couple go at it on their lawn blanket or have to explain to your kids what that person over there is putting in their nose or why that girl cannot stand up on her own or why is that guy puking into the garbage can, etc. You won’t find beer being served or drug dealers in the lot…and I am not referring to just nitrous which some people think is the only problem in the lot scene. I am talking about the many drugs, including those that you may not have heard of yet. They all add to the problem and I wish people would stop singling out nitrous as the sole scourge of the scene. If it wasn’t such a weed, lsd, X, molle, shroom, ketamine, 2CB, DMT and alcohol laden scene, the nitrous dealers wouldn’t even bother to show up. I’ve never seen nitrous at non-jam band shows. I’ve been a live music enthusiast for decades and have literally seen hundreds of different bands, spanning multiple genres of music and the jam scene is unique and singular for its open and varied drug use. How ever you want to slice it, it’s not an environment for kids. Dan Zanes’ show is also great for adults. If you enjoy jam band music, you will like his show. It is hippie, folk oriented music that you can boogie down to and that which your kids will understand and learn from.
    I’ve noticed that the majority of parents who bring kids to shows are very young couples. Even for myself, I know that my opinion of bringing kids to shows was differebnt when I was in my 20′s as opposed to now, in my 40′s. My own crowd has many parents in it but they are all in their 30′s and 40′s. They have kids of all ages, from infants to teens and NONE of them bring their kids to shows, with the one exception of The Gathering of the Vibes which does have a great family area for main stage viewing (it is roped off and rules of proper adult conduct are enforced) and even has a side stage far away from the shenanigans with kids entertainment plus other kids stuff like arts and crafts and the like.
    If your kids truly are your first priority then you make some sacrifices when they are young. Some things are meant to be enjoyed by adults. Sit out a few shows to do things with your kids that are appropriate for childhood. When they grow up, both they and you, will have many opportunities to join up with your fellow jam band enthusiasts and soak in the unique scene that goes with jam band shows. Let them be kids in the meantime and let them enjoy entertainment that is created just for them. Don’t push the adult experiences on them as babies, toddlers and younger kids. Really put them in the top spot regarding your priorities.

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