Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Night Clayton Helped Volbeat Rock Spokane

Most people know that we don't so much allow our kids to participate in things like organized sports because we have such crazy schedules and unless the boys happened to both end up wanting to play the same sport and be on the same team, logistically it's just not happening for them.  Instead, we opt to cram in concentrated family fun times, like Spring Break, where for a few days we enjoyed an indoor waterpark where Esten accidentally showed everyone his genitals and Clayton made quick friends with an online child predator who claimed to be an 8 year old girl named "PuppyLover" who was playing MineCraft and who wondered if anyone "was going swimming" that day.

They returned to school, but didn't finish out the whole week before I had to send a reminder email to both teachers that they'd be out on Friday as well so their father could take them to a concert:

Subject: Esten/Clayton attendance 4/11/2014

Hi Ladies,

As an official reminder (since I'm sure the boys have been nice enough to let you know) neither of them will be in school on Friday, 4/11/2014.

Their FATHER is taking them to Spokane to a real-live rock show at the Knitting Factory to see Volbeat.

I have been assured that there is some sort of child-friendly alcohol-free area and he's made arrangements with the management to get them in and settled early before the crowd arrives.

:\ I'm not sure how to feel about this. Anyway, please let me know if this email is NOT sufficient and if I STILL need to call the office in the morning, I'm happy to do that.


I expected some backlash. A little bit of....something. No. This is what I got:

Esten has most definitely informed me of his SUPER FUN plans. You only get to be 9 once. I think it's wonderful that they are having a guys night.
I'm playing hookie tomorrow as well. Now I don't feel so bad.
Thanks for letting us know.


Lol, oh boy! That sounds wild, they are going to have SO MUCH FUN! I will forward your email to our secretary, so she can count them as absent tomorrow.

Thank you and I hope you don't worry too much ;)

These gals got it.  They've known the boys long enough to know how they've grown to love this band and what this opportunity meant to them.  For those who maybe haven't heard of this band, a little background:

Jason had loaded a few songs on Esten's iPod after hearing them on satellite radio's Octane channel just because he wanted to use the smaller one for running one day and then forgot to remove them later.  One day in the car Esten made a random request from the backseat, "Can we listen to 'Heaven Nor Hell'?" and we exchanged confused parental glances.
"How do you know about that song?"
"It's on my iPod."
Esten's interest in the band continued to grow at that point, and he knew every word to every song he had at that point, and he began researching them and telling Jason about other songs and albums he needed to download.

Originally from Denmark, they are consistent metal chart toppers in Europe and have toured with Metallica.  It didn't take long for Volbeat obsession to take hold in our house.

The kids have Volbeat shirts that they insisted on wearing for picture day.  They have other Volbeat shirts that I felt might violate dress code because one has a noose on it that I thought may be considered a weapon or the shirt might flat-out scare a kindergartner.  I made Esten pack an extra shirt in his backpack and said if anyone told him to change he was not to be sassy.  Later on I asked whether anyone said anything. 

"Yeah...the Principal said 'Hey dude, cool shirt' and he gave me a high five."

I cornered the Principal about that and asked why he didn't call my kid out on a dress code violation.

"Trust me.  You have great kids.  Your kids are the absolute LEAST of my worries at school."

It became a running joke so much so that even our Elf was a Volbeat fan:

Esten, proclaiming a Volbeat song title reminds him of me.
This is boy talk for "I LOVE YOU", by the way....
So many fans are there in our house that Jason made a promise to the boys that if they ever toured the Northwest that he would take them.

Then they released tour dates including Spokane in March, 2013.  And he balked.  I bought him a single ticket for his birthday that year, albeit begrudgingly, because 1) I knew he would probably buy one for himself anyway, and 2) the venue they were playing was undergoing challenges at that time with violent activity including shootings during and after some shows.  The city almost shut the doors on the business but in the end did not.  I had a hard time letting my husband go there, but I certainly wasn't about to let my kids go.

After he and his friends attended, he was even more convinced the kids would have loved it.  The Knitting Factory had a designated non-alcohol area that was separated and elevated.  He made up his mind that if Volbeat didn't get too big for their britches and if they made another pass around through Spokane, the kids were definitely going.  When the dates went up for 2014 and Spokane was on the list, he bought 3 tickets.

Just to allay his fears, Jason reached out to the management at the Knitting Factory before buying the tickets to tell them he was considering buying the tickets and bringing two kids.  They were more than gracious to work with him and made arrangements to let them in early before the crowd, get them settled in the appropriate area, and took care of all their needs.  They really treated my guys like VIPs and they didn't have to.  They weren't getting any extra money and could have easily told him to pound sand.  They deserve recognition for going above and beyond for us.

Before we go in: don't talk to Shady Ladies,
and remember to wash your hands.

Horns, check.
Volbeat shirts, check.
Hearing protection, check.

They got to see the stage and Jason got to see the kids' eyes light up when they went in to check it out before things got busy and the bands were setting up.  Two other bands were there before Volbeat, Digital Summer and Trivium.  Let's just say I've never heard of them but from the sounds of it had I been there and witnessed it I'd have said "Get in the car boys.....we're outta here."  But again...concerts aren't really my thing.  Conway's still dead and other people usually suck in person.

After Trivium finished there was a bit of an intermission while Volbeat was setting up.  Jason stopped a security guy to ask about how to get Esten up on the stage.  He knew enough about Volbeat's concert habits that they play their set list, then during their encore set there is a song written for their fans called "Thanks" during which they will bring up any kids that are in attendance that want to come up on stage.  A second security guy told him to have both kids ready at the left of the stage after their encore and he would make sure they got up there.

He flashed them his best most excited devil horns.


"YOU ARE!!!!"


"WE ARE!!!"


"WE DO!!!"

Then the lights went down, the stage lights came up, Volbeat came out and Esten saw his music hero, lead singer Michael Poulsen.....and they were going CRAZY jumping up and down.

(photo courtesy:

I imagine the feeling, at this point, being equivalent to how my sister in law Mandy must have felt as she tore holes in her pantyhose at the excitement of seeing New Kids on the Block.


*Fun Fact: I was at the same concert and did not tear holes in my pantyhose.

Jason knew that getting up on stage would be right up his alley and it was getting to be time as their set list was winding up and was dreading dragging two little nuggets through wall to wall people who had, for the most part, been drinking throughout the performances of two and a half bands by this point.  It would be like voluntarily walking into a worst-night scenario on the job, except taking your kids along too.  He instructed them carefully, one to take a hold of his shirt, the other to hold onto his brother's shirt, so that they would not be separated in the crowd.

They each immediately grabbed ahold of their OWN shirts and pulled them straight out.  He redirected them.  Twice.  But with the ear protection and Volbeat blaring in the background it was difficult for them to understand.  Once they figured it out they snaked their way through sweaty and questionable fans to the checkpoint.  They were told to sit on the steps until it was time.

"Esten, I wish I was going up there with you."

Then Jason could see Esten's eyes tearing up.

"I don't want to do this, Dad, I never wanted to do it."


Apparently bit by the stage fright bug or something, we finally got out of him that he was afraid that he was going to mess up.  He literally thought they were going to make HIM SING THE SONG.

OMG.  This band is just about all Esten talks about.  The lead singer, Michael Poulsen is his hero in the way most kids like sports figures.  It's crazytown.  He's a volcano of Volbeat trivia.  He just locked up.

Voted most likely to be what Esten wants to be when he grows up,
By Esten.
(photo courtesy
Will only know lyrics to next released album 5 minutes before
Esten Lee knows lyrics to next album.

So Jason schlepped them back through the crowd, each with a fist full of each other's shirts until they got back to their spot where Clayton tugged on Jason's shirt.

"Dad.....but I wanted to go up on stage."

This is where having had some family there helped.  Jason planted Esten with a cousin and prepared to take Clayton back through the gauntlet....again.  Once they got back to the steps they waited a couple songs for the cue.  The singer made the announcement for kids to come up and the bouncer made a beeline for Jason.  He looked down at Clayton then back at Jason.

This is how a Rock Star looks when he's warming up.

"Where's the other one?"

Before he knew it, Clayton was being swept away, up onto the stage.  Jason went down in front of the barriers in the "no access area" with his cell phone out to document it.  He was looking around and waiting and finally he saw...his son....strutting across the stage like a BOSS throwing up his best devil horns.

Clayton - playing to the crowd, ignoring the bras hanging around
just like mom's on the bathroom doorknobs.

The video really speaks for itself.  With a dozen or so other kids who are living out probably a once in a lifetime opportunity (and everyone handles stages differently) Clayton is obviously in his own world.  He is oblivious to what's going on around him.  He has no idea.  He's just rocking it.  Hard.  Even the bass player is a little unsure of what he's looking at.  Afterward, he gave Clayton his wristband.

Do yourself a favor.  Stop everything and watch this video right now by clicking this link, then come back and finish the rest of the story...if you can stop smile/laughing/crying.  It's the coolest, even if I'm biased:

Click to follow link:

Inspiring the bass player to abandon his bass and try air guitar instead.

They're a real power house duo, he is so into it he has no idea anyone
famous is RIGHT THERE.

The guitar player wants in on this jam session. This kid is a natural.
Committed to the craft. Focus. Drive.
Clayton gets the bassist's wristband. Probably the first time he even
realizes he's there.

Can't leave without a high five from Michael Poulsen.
With his sweet wristband, which has the initials AK on
the back, for Anders Kjolholm. Clayton promptly wanted
to wear it outside to play basketball the next day.
Afterward they made their way back to Esten and all the way they were met by new superfans who were smitten.  Justin Bieber had nothing on Clayton that night.

And Esten?  Regrets horribly his decision.  A life lesson, this.  Never pass up an opportunity out of fear or misunderstanding.  Go for it, balls out.

Outside people were continuing to cheer Clayton on.  As they crossed the street and they were calling out he turned to face them (while still walking backward), threw up his devil horns at them again, and said, "Dad....I've got swagger like a jaguar."

Later, a friend would text Jason to say  "Just walked by a group of ladies on the sidewalk saying that little kid with the headphones? Cute as shit! He was the best of all of them."

As is customary, their tour posted pictures on their website and linked them to their Facebook page marking their latest stop that night, and wouldn't you know....

Clayton's cute mug was right there to even out our running count for media coverage tit-for-tat that we all know my kids scratch each other's eyeballs out over while they eat their Lucky Charms in the morning.  Clayton had still been licking his wounds after the last City Council meeting when Esten and I had gotten up to tear ass about the scooter ban situation but he had been.....


He was super pissed that Esten ended up on the news and said he would have rethought his position if he had that info in the beginning.

Some of the fans took to the Facebook comments:

And that kid rocked it, too!! He'll be heading up his own band in no time :)

That kid rocked it! Great concert Volbeat!

(photo courtesy:

(photo courtesy:

 The greatest part of all this is that our kids got to experience this truly amazing thing and the next day they were just up and out the door and playing with the neighborhood kids and back to normal life.  It probably won't hit them for a few years until Volbeat gets even more mainstream just how awesome this was and then it will hit them like a ton of bricks.  They.Were.There.


And he did it like a champ.  And I'm super proud of him for giving it his all like that.  I hope it's not long before they come this way again and Esten will remember how this went down and they'll be up there together next time.


  1. Sitting here in Sweden, reading this. And as a mother and huge Volbeat fan (oh yeah I have VOLBEAT tattooed on my left arm ;) I must say I have a smile from ear to ear :) What a great experience for your boys and what a great dad you are! Hope to get my now 3-year old son to be just as crazy about this amazing band as your sons are. Best wiches, Bella

  2. First time on your site and I started reading this story because it mentioned Spokane (where I have family) and it totally swept me up. How amazing!!!! And what great school staff you have also :)