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 Responses

  1. Thanks for this article…I saw a couple families with kids at DARIEN this past summer. Phish is probably too big a show for me to take my son to but we’ll be hitting up quite a few shows in Buffalo and a few festivals with the fam this summer.

    Thanks for the recommendation on the Peltor ear muffs. I just ordered a pair for my 1 year old son.

  2. Brought my little 7yr.old to Miami this year. Simple, bring a Nintendo DSI, Glowsticks, Earphones and snacks. Its all we needed

  3. Hey just don’t do it. And if you do don’t leave your baby/toddler sitting on the ground. My friend almost stepped on a baby while on L and it’s stoned junkie parents didn’t even move to cover their kid. Kids who can’t walk, eat or deficate by themselves shouldn’t be at phish shows. But if y’all insist please keep them in the back away from the masses of drugged up lunatics

  4. Please…for the love of god…STOP BRINGING TODDLERS and BABY’s to phish shows. Get a damned babysitter. It is not a good environment to bring a baby into and it most certainly isn’t a fucking daycare center. I am not trying to be rude, but you have to at least respect people’s right to be adults without having to fear that they are being watched by some 2 year old as they try and smoke a bowl. It isn’t cool to bring young children to phish shows. I’d say if they are younger than 13, leave them at home or take them to a hannah montanna concert where they belong.

  5. “I am not trying to be rude, but you have to at least respect people’s right to be adults without having to fear that they are being watched by some 2 year old as they try and smoke a bowl.”

    I honestly don’t care what you do at the show, as long as you stay out of my personal space. I’ll stay somewhere where I know my kid is safe, and make sure to say out of others’ way. As for your fear that you are being watched–that’s your issue. I don’t have that fear because I know that as a parent it is my job to raise my child in the way that my wife and I think is right. He’s going to see all sorts of things in his life that we are going to help him understand in a way that allows him to become a good person.
    I disagree that it isn’t a good environment to bring a kid to. You just have to be smart about it, which is why this post exists.

  6. bringing a baby to a phish show is anything but “good parenting.” If i see one more nasty fat hippy chick flop out her tits and breastfeed her baby at a show i will throw up all over them. Please do keep your babys away from me at a show. They most certainly are your issue and yours alone and it is straight up rude, yes rude, to make everyone else at a show have to change their game because you think it’s cool to bring a little helpless baby into that environment.

    In the end you can do what you want, but your still a bad parent for putting your baby into that environment. sorry. I’m just telling it like it is and it is annoying as fuck to have to deal with infants at a show. Thank god i don’t have kids yet, but one day when i do i most certainly will have enough respect for my fellow fams to leave them at home where they are safe.

  7. As a new father, I have to fall on the side of leaving the kids at home. While some concerts might be okay for older kids (say seven or older), a Phish show is way to full of messed up people doing all kinds of things that young children should definitely not be exposed to. I go to show sober, but usually walk out with a contact high from breathing in the smoke for three hours. No child should be subject to that. Foote had it right: hire a babysitter or stay home.

  8. as a father of 2 girls, 3yrs and 1 year old, I would never bring then to a show. Maybe when they are 10 years old, but it is unfair to them to be part of the masses of people and teh extermely loud music

    good times for me, but not for my kids. Hopefully 1 day though

  9. you brought a baby to a phish show? you should be ass raped. and castrated. and then shot. repeatedly.

  10. I’m bringing my kids 6 and 4 to Telluride this summer. I am doing this not to rain on your parade, but because I believe that Phish can be family experience and a safe one too. I want my kids to see how much joy I get from Phish. I want my kids to see responsible partying by adults and I’m sure they will be exposed to some unresponsible partying too. This might be the only time I bring them to a Phish show when they are little, maybe the next time will be when they are teenagers, that is if Phish is still around.

  11. Thank you for bringing the little ones to the shows. Their brains are getting tons of stimulation with the light show, just keep them on your shoulders and keep the headphones on their ears! I love seeing the little ones at the shows!

  12. I can’t speak about bringing babies or toddlers to a show but I brought my 6 and 8 year old boys to Indio and they had a blast. I hadn’t been to a show since my wife was pregnant with my first (Vegas 2000). I imagine it would be a ton of work and not a very enjoyable experience if I brought my kids when they were very little(every kid is different so it may be more feasable with some children. I like the idea of tiring them out first.)

    For my kids at the festival we had a large recognizable flag pole that the kids could see from far away so if they wandered too far from our space they could easily find us again. They had so much fun collecting glow sticks and throwing them, rocking out and meeting other kids.

    As for exposing them to irresponsible partyers and other not socially acceptable aspects of the lot scene I think it is a parenting choice. I personally answer all questions my kids have honestly. Were there many spun out wookies that appeared to be on drugs? yes of course. did my kids see people doing drugs (puffing exluded)? no. If my kids asked questions I answered them. My older son found a glass bowl and wanted to know what it was I told him. In general everyone (even the spunions) were so friendly. My kids formed their own opinions and didn’t like the “drunk” people and generally avoided them. My feeling is you can’t shelter kids from the world you can only teach them the difference between right and wrong, help make good decisions and hope for the best.
    I can’t tell you how many times I heard “you guys are the coolest parents in the world”. I can’t say every parent we saw there was a good parent but there is a way to bring your kids to a show in a responsible way. My kids were a little taken aback by a coulpe of hippie kids wearing nothing but tighty whiteys and covered with dirt.
    My wife was with the kids during one of the set breaks and a spun out girl was talking with them, she couldn’t stop gushing about how cute they were and how spun she was. When my wife told the kids she had to go to the bathroom, they didn’t want to go. The spunion kindly offered to watch them, my wife cooly responded ummm, no. If you are smart and responsible I think taking kids to shows is a great idea.PS don’t leave your kids with a spunion.

  13. I thought this was a reasonable way to convey to those who decide to bring their kids to a show what to do and to expect. The experience is valuable. I would rather have the kids running around than deal with the tweakers, dealers and those just their to get high.

    This can be a wholesome family scene and I am glad you are adding to the road that it is heading down.

  14. @Shawn, have you honestly gotten a contact high from being at a concert? I mean really? Don G. Thomas, learn how to spell before you condemn other people’s choices. It really comes down to the venue. I have been to 350 Phish shows since 1990– there are some shows that are family appropriate (SPAC as in the example) and others that are decidedly not (MSG). I agree with Alan 100%…I have never brought one of my children to a show, but plan on bringing our youngest to Telluride this summer. Sitting in the way back on a blanket (with ear protection), I don’t anticipate any problems. If you someone is worried about there child seeing someone smoke pot, than a rock concert is not the place for them. I don’t smoke, but don;t think it is a big deal. As far as “seeing a fat hippy chick breastfeed”, how old are you? Grow up. Depending on the venue, bringing a child is fine. We probably had 20 kids in our roped off area at IT and it was great….I would never bring a kid to Red Rocks or a venue where there was not a “safe/quiet” area to get away to, but whatever, I respect anyone’s opinion to do what they want. There are a lot worse things a parent could do then bring their kid to a Phish show, but to each their own….Just don’t tell me not to because it makes you uncomfortable smoking weed, that’s just silly…..

  15. @ caravan – my spelling has nothing to do with that fact that people who feel the need to bring little babies and toddlers to phish shows are absolute douches. Thanks for the spelling lesson though. I know it’s like some new “hip” status symbol amongst douches to bring their babies to phish shows, but please spare me your english lessons. thanks. love, Don. PS- I’m old enough to appreciate breasts, but i am sick of seeing disgusting women breast feeding at concerts. Perhaps they should grow up and leave their offspring at daycare where they belong.Have fun changing diapers brah!

  16. Don:

    I hope you have kids and go to shows and leave your kids at daycare. I don’t leave my kids with strangers. We’ll obviously never agree on the subject, if think bringing a kid to a show is douchey or a “new hip thing” I’m not going to waste my breath arguing with you about it …Have fun at the shows you see this summer….maybe you’ll do a thumbprint and learn to be a little more tolerant of other people’s situations….peace…

  17. Either you are completely selfish or completely stupid. Your child does not want to be there.
    No other concert goers want your child there.

  18. My oldest sons 1st show 6 months old front row art centre homdel NJ for trey he loved it!!!We will be at hershey on the 13th!!! 1 if you don’t have kids GFY!! 2 If you do I’ll raise mine you raise yours now GFY!!!!

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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?

  27. 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!

  28. 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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