"Dad, wake up. Wake up, dad. Rancid is gonna play!!!"
We were at a Rancid concert and my dad had fallen asleep during the opening act. So you might be thinking, what was your old man doing at a show like that? It was embarrassing being there with an old guy, but I took him there to prove him wrong about the music I loved. He believed that rock music has a negative influence on young minds. He and my family thought it caused me to be more rebellious.
But I wanted him to see that this music helped me. It inspired me to go on even when crappy things happened. Like Rancid sang that night, "If I fall back down, you’re gonna help me back up again."
At the time I was 15 years old and had been living away from my parents in a group home. The staff was very strict about where I could go because of my history of doing drugs at gigs. When I first moved there, my friend Raul invited me to the Warped Tour because his band was playing. But the staff wouldn’t let me go. I cried and cried.
Two months after the Warped Tour, we were driving down Wilshire on the way to school and on the sign for The Wiltern theatre, there it was: "RANCID! Coming Soon!" I started screaming!! I was so excited. I love Rancid with all my heart because my future "husband" (in my dreams) is in the band. His name is Tim, the lead singer and guitarist. Rancid is one of the bands that introduced me to rock music and I had always wanted to see them live. But my biggest problem was how to get there. How would I get tickets? How would I go when it is on a school night? That night I prayed to God. I told him I would be good if He let me go to the concert.
A month later, I had my quarterly parent/teacher conference. I mentioned that I had been doing really good and that I should be able to go to a concert. They all agreed. I told them everything I knew about the Rancid concert (except that it was on a school night). My caseworker Lori said she worked at the Wiltern and that with the permission of my parents she would give me two tickets. With two conditions. I needed to go with my brother or my dad and I had to stay with them at all times. I said yes. My prayers had been answered!!! As soon as I got in the car I kept saying to myself, "Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God."
What if he sings along?
During the three weeks of torturous pain before the concert, when Rancid songs came on the radio, I thought about my dad embarrassing me in front of everyone, like trying to sing "Red Hot Moon" or saying, "This music is for crazy people."
When the day finally came, I wore a Rancid shirt and red plaid pants. As we entered the Wiltern I bought some patches and buttons, then my dad and I went to our seats on the second floor. My dad just sat down and went to sleep. I didn’t bother him for the first two bands because I was still dumbstruck that I had made it there. Then it was time for Rancid to start. All the lights went off, the curtains dropped and everybody started screaming. I screamed "I love you, Tim!"
I told my dad to wake up. I was 50,000 miles away from sleep. I was skanking, a dance you do to ska and punk music. My dad was looking at me like "What are you doing?" His arms were crossed in front of his chest and he was looking around. But eventually his head and body started bopping to the rhythm. He was into it.
In the car on the way home he asked me, "Why don’t you dress like the girls with blue jeans?" I didn’t answer him because I was happy and I didn’t want to start an argument about the way I dress because it was late. I asked, "What did you think about the show?" so we could build a positive conversation. He said it was OK, not wanting to admit that this music was not so bad after all.
The concert changed how my father looked at rock music and me. He had thought that 100 percent of the people would have mohawks, colored hair and patches all over their clothing. To his surprise, he didn’t see many people like that. That made him see that this music did not make me "crazy."
For me, the concert taught me that my father wants to understand me and actually cares about me. I was really surprised that he took the time to go because it always seemed like he didn’t care and that all he wanted to do was make me unhappy by not letting me listen to my music.
Now my dad lets me play my Rancid CD when we go somewhere in the car, instead of only when I’m in my room with the door locked. Who knows, he might even listen to it when he’s in the car alone. So next time you hear a 54-year-old man playing "Ruby Soho" or "Red Hot Moon" on the way to work, it might be my dad!