girls at a Billie Eilish concert


I Was A Parent At A Billie Eilish Concert And I’m Still Processing What I Saw

Aug 19, 2019

Girls just want to have fun! I sure did way back in 1984 when I got to see my first concert, Cyndi Lauper, at the now defunct Maple Leaf Gardens. While the details of that night have faded, the feeling of watching Cyndi perform live, and not on TV, remains electric.

That’s why when my pre-teen daughter told me she wanted to attend her first concert, I was all in. It’s a rite of passage and I wanted to be there to share it with her. Maybe a little bit of me wanted to relive my youth — I’d wait in line for hours to see The Cure, Depeche Mode or U2.

So when a friend of a friend offered last-minute, discounted tickets to see my kid’s idol, Billie Eilish, I jumped at the chance.

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Billie Eilish first came on my radar when my daughter told me she wanted to dye her hair blue. After a little mom-sleuthing, I realized what she really wanted was to look like her new music idol, Billie. Intrigued, I Googled this blue-haired phenom to see what she was all about.

I won’t lie. When I clicked on the video for her breakout hit When The Party’s Over, I was a little horrified to watch this teen chug a black liquid that then poured out of her — gulp — eyeballs. It’s fair to say, I didn’t get it.

Ah, but that’s the point of music and youth. It’s the generational divide that helps separate kids from their parents — a point that became clearer on our big night out.

Concert Night

We’ re immediately engulfed in a gaggle of crop-topped pre-teens giddy to see Billie. First up, we hit the line for some must-have concert "merch."

I want my daughter to live inside her experiences in life. That’s hard to do when everything is an Instagrammable moment.

Here’s my first clue that concerts have changed: it’s about to start, but the line hasn’t budged. A quick search on my phone tells me the same merchandise is available for purchase online which I share with those around me. But they’re more interested in buying bucket hats than seeing Billie hit the stage.

We get to our seats. Kids pull out phones to watch Billie perform. Not with their eyeballs, but through their screens. They record Billie sitting and singing in front of even more screens.

“Put your cell away and be in the moment!” I say to my daughter. Frankly, it seems silly as “the moment” is a spider crawling across multiple screens on stage.

A heartfelt ballad plays. The audience becomes awash in flickering lights from their phones. It’s striking — I’ve only used my phone light to find my car keys in the dark. Probably safer than the lighters we used.

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But overall, something’s missing. Isn’t the point of shelling out money to see a concert, which is pricey, seeing your hero in the flesh and sharing it with like-minded fans? I wonder if these kids who were Instagraming and live streaming throughout the show are actually taking in the moment. Or are they literally keeping it at arm’s length?

I want my daughter to live inside her experiences in life. That’s hard to do when everything is an Instagrammable moment. But I can’t help but wish they’d put their cells away and be present.

This mom makes a mental note to take her kid to more live theatre, less expensive concerts and communal events, and encourage her to leave her phone behind.

But I have to admit: I like Billie. At just 17, she is proving to be a sophisticated artist who doesn’t use her sex appeal to push her brand. She’s a refreshing change from other currently famous pop icons. Her music is complex, a little dark, but unmistakably unique and fresh.

Just please don’t tell my kid I think so.

Article Author Laura Mullin
Laura Mullin

Read more from Laura here.

Laura Mullin is a published playwright and writer and the Co-Artistic Director of the award-winning company, Expect Theatre. She is also the Co-Host and Producer of PlayME, a podcast that transforms plays into audio dramas now on CBC. She has worked in theatre, film, and television and lives in Toronto with her writer/producer husband and pre-teen daughter. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @expectlaura.

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