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First concert now a family affair

The acts and audience are getting younger with parents tagging along with their children to see Britney Spears.

By BABITA PERSAUD

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 1, 2000


TAMPA -- Do you remember your first concert?

"Gosh . . . it's scary," said 40-year-old Michael Servie. "KISS."

He was 16. The year: 1974. The place: Hulman Civic Center in Terre Haute, Ind., his hometown. His hair was just long enough to fit in a ponytail back then.

KISS was a new band, but Servie and his four buddies from high school did not paint their faces.

"It was the Midwest," he said. "I remember Gene Simmons spitting fire. It was rocking."

The experience is forever etched on his mind, one of life's milestones. Friday, it was his daughter's turn.

Last night, Alyssa Servie, 8, went to her very first concert -- Britney Spears. She was not the youngest at the Ice Palace. Lots of little kids flooded the arena. Their parents right along side of them, reliving their first concert experience.

"Ted Nugent, AC/DC and Scorpions," said John Mitsh, leading a pack of Girl Scouts. "I was 18 and it was pure rock 'n' roll."

"The Temptations," said Burt Kempner. "I even remember where: the Casino Night Club in Cherry Hill, N.J. I was 15 and in junior high."

But now, his son Nathan, 7, has him listening to Britney Spears non-stop.

"We call his room "Our Lady of Britney' because of all the posters," Kempner said.

Alyssa went with her mother, 39-year-old Mary Beth Servie.

Servie's first concert was the Marshall Tucker Band.

"Oh, my gosh," she said. "You know these concerts really date us."

Servie was 16. She said she thought twice about taking her 8-year-old to a concert.

"When she was in kindergarten and first grade, so many kids went to Backstreet Boys concerts," Servie said.

They wanted Alyssa to go along. "I just said no."

But for Britney, she gave in.

"I got into Britney Spears and I just started loving her," Alyssa said.

She sings into the karaoke machine at home, pretending she is Britney. She has posters throughout her pink and white room. Britney from the New Mickey Mouse Club. Britney in a white business-like dress. It is Britney's innocent side the 8-year-old sees, said her mother, before the performer, now 18, appeared scantily clad in Rolling Stone magazine. To Alyssa, Britney is someone she looks up to as being successful at a young age.

So mom said yes to the Friday 7:30 p.m. concert, making an exception to Alyssa's usual bedtime of 8 p.m.

Tickets were bought online for $45.30, another change from the Marshall Tucker days where tickets where a fraction of what they cost today and were bought after standing in a real line outside Market Square Arena in Indianapolis.

Other differences: Alyssa bought stickers at the concert instead of a T-shirt. "Kid stuff," said her mother. And she wanted cotton candy. Sitting in her seat in section 208, her feet did not even touch the floor.

But one part of the experience -- that first concert experience -- was the same: sheer excitement. Alyssa wiggled in her seat. "Britney!" she shouted.

Does Michael Servie still listen to KISS? After all, the rockers are still making music.

No, he said, although he gets flashbacks "whenever a KISS song comes on the radio."

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