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When you can’t possibly spend another Saturday enduring the stench that collects beneath the roof of the National Zoo’s elephant house and crumple at the thought of another outdoor showing of Madagascar, consider introducing your kids to concerts. And not the Wiggles. It’s time to work in some quality tunes that do not involve dinosaurs or magic buttons.
One of the more reliable options in our area is the kid-friendly lineup at Fort Reno Park, where it’s not just your kids who are welcome. Your dog can come, too. Unfortunately the Tenleytown venue hasn’t announced its schedule yet. When it does, make plans.
For toddlers and other little guys, another good bet is Bugs Bunny on Broadway, featuring the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, at Merriweather Post Pavillion on July 11. This program’s mix of chamber music and Looney Tunes may be the perfect carrot, as it were, to get your child pumped about classical music.
If you’re the parent of a tween and haven’t already begun fielding requests for tickets to see the Jonas Brothers at the Verizon Center on July 13 and/or Demi Lovato at the Patriot Center on Aug. 20, you soon will. Why should you relent? Well, there is a long, storied history of Disney personalities like Ms. Lovato and the Brothers Jonas going on to become bona fide superstars. When you’re sitting amid thousands of screaming kiddies, clutching your ears in pain, take comfort in the fact that you could be looking at the next Britney, the next Xtina, or the next Justin Timberlake. Not buying it? Seek out the parents’ lounge.
Barring explicitly family-friendly events, you typically can’t go wrong with a show at any venue that has a large lawn area where restless kids can run around and play. Notable exceptions: Creed and Crüe Fest 2, at Nissan Pavilion on Aug. 21 and 22, respectively. Your 5-year-old doesn’t need to be introduced to Tommy Lee just yet and Creed used to call themselves Naked Toddler for god’s sake. Creepy. Instead, try John Legend at Merriweather on July 17. He sounds like an old-school soul singer but hangs out with Kanye West, so he should appeal to every member of your clan. Legend’s crowds are usually nice and mellow, and while Mr. Ordinary People likes to sing about love, there’s little chance of any awkward over-sexed moments during his shows—dude is fucking wholesome. The lawn situation is equally fine at Wolf Trap: Sheryl Crow’s performance on July 3 and LeAnn Rimes’ gig on July 9 are safe bets for shows free of NC-17 drunken debauchery. Children 2 and under get on the lawn for free at Merriweather—all kids, even carried babies, require tickets at Wolf Trap.
Your older teenagers are going to ask permission to go to two of the hottest tickets of the summer—the Virgin Mobile Festival, which will likely return to Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course, and Rock the Bells at Merriweather on July 12. And they damn sure aren’t going to want you to go with them. But, if you’re nervous about leaving your kid alone at a day-long fest, buy yourself a ticket. Virgin hasn’t announced its 2009 lineup yet, but it always has a mix of acts that appeal to fogies and young’uns—last year’s bill featured Bob Dylan alongside Lil Wayne. Same goes for epic hip-hop show Rock the Bells: This year your kid can catch a set from D.C.’s own Tabi Bonney while you enjoy the cool stylings of Jimmy Fallon’s house band, better known as the Roots.
For your minor’s first unaccompanied concert, look for shows at the 9:30 Club and Black Cat in D.C., or Sonar in Baltimore, which are all-ages venues (with few exceptions) and familiar with keeping 17-year-olds out of the beer. Wale and UCB at Sonar on May 25 would work nicely as your baby’s first concert, as would Santigold at 9:30 on June 10, if you can scrounge up some tickets to the sold-out event. Just beware any requests for tickets to “Burnaroo,” more popularly known as the Blazed and Confused tour, featuring Snoop Dogg and Slightly Stoopid, which stops at Merriweather on Aug. 5. Your best bet in that case is to just say no, even if you’re planning on attending yourself.
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Bugs Bunny on Broadway
Merriweather Post Pavillion, Sat., 7/12, at 8:30 p.m. $20-45
The Jonas Brothers
Verizon Center, Mon., 7/13, at 7 p.m. $29.50-89.50
Patriot Center, Thurs., 8/20, at 7 p.m. $39.50-49.50
Filene Center at Wolf Trap, Fri., 7/3, at 8 p.m. $30-48
Merriweather Post Pavillion, Fri., 7/17, at 7:30 p.m. $36-109
Filene Center at Wolf Trap, 7/9, at 8:15 p.m. $25-48
Virgin Mobile Festival
Rock the Bells
Merriweather Post Pavillion, Sun., 7/12, at 12 p.m. $51-101
Wale with UCB
Sonar, Mon., 5/25, at 9 p.m. $10-15
9:30 Club, Wed., 6/10, at 7 p.m. Sold out.