Friday Night: Yo Gabba Gabba Live! At Verizon Wireless Theater

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Yo Gabba Gabba Live! Verizon Wireless Theater December 2, 2011

Check out our picks of DJ Lance Rock and friends at Yo Gabba Gabba Live!.

As a parent, Rocks Off can tell you firsthand about the sacrifices involved in child rearing. Most of us know going in that there are trade-offs for raising your own personal organ donors, from simple things like no longer getting to sleep in on Saturdays to losing command of your own television.

Parents (those who admit to it, anyway) who let their kids watch television realized long ago that there was little to be gained from bitching about the quality of children's programming. We got beyond that years ago, sagely realizing such fare was not created for us, and should therefore be outside the realm of adult critique.

Some TV shows, however, are beyond the pale. Some offer so little nourishment to the child's mind they should be rallied against like big box stores in our affluent neighborhoods or Mark Twain in our school libraries. We speak, of course, of Yo Gabba Gabba.

At first glance, the YGG concept seems attractive. Created by Scott Schultz and Aquabats singer Christian Jacobs, Yo Gabba Gabba! certainly looks different than most kids shows. The Gabba Gang are slightly off-kilter amalgams of the Muppets, '70s toys and anime, brought to life by the orange velour-clad DJ Lance Rock. Typical shows feature "Cool Tricks" (in which kids and adults demonstrate particularly cool talents), the "Super Music Friends Show" (musical guests), and "Biz's Beat of the Day" (Biz Markie(!) teaches the little ones how to beat box).

Pretty harmless, and not really deserving further examination except for the show's peculiar popularity among those presumably old enough to know better. Jacobs and Schultz have gone out of their way to craft a program that appeals less to kids than their parents. YGG's interstitials typically include graphics inspired by 8-bit video games and musical acts catering to a, shall we say, more seasoned crowd than found at your typical Pump It Up. Past guests include Shiny Toy Guns, Hot Hot Heat, and MGMT.

You know. For the kids.

Friday night's show at the Verizon Wireless Theater certainly seemed to prove this out, with more parents than kids sporting Gabba gear and a stage show that could best be described as "abbreviated."

For the first of its two sets (Rocks Off attended the 4:00 show), the gang was 20 minutes late taking the stage. Mildly annoying to hipster parents, but (and this is a theme we'll return to) perhaps a little more vexing to toddlers increasingly perturbed by the gang's tardiness.

The group performed a handful of songs before relinquishing the stage to "special guest" That 1 Guy and his Magic Pipe, whose one-man-bandwagoneering was met with polite applause, then confusion as it went on. Seriously, the Gabba Gang performed for less than 15 minutes before yielding the floor to a secondary act.

The group came back on stage for another 15 minutes before taking a 20 minute intermission. This after DJ Lance could be overheard confessing, like Roger Murtaugh from Lethal Weapong, to Brobee he was getting too old for this.

[An aside: the main characters consist of tall, red, Cyclopean Muno, pink bubbly Foofa, diminutive green Brobee, blue cat-dragon Toodee, and yellow robot Plex. This is only marginally important for purposes of the review.]

Look, for starters, kids don't give a shit if their TV idols getting fatigued on stage. You're there to jump and sing for their amusement. Feeling winded? Mix in some cardio with your weekly routine and try to remember parents shelled out upwards of $40 per ticket (including for "children in laps") to bring their little ones to sing and dance along with their mutant heroes.

All the group's hits were on display. "Let's Dance," "Get the Sillies Out," "Freeze Game," "Party in My Tummy." And towards the end of the show, none other than the Diabolical Biz Markie himself came out to teach his Beat of the Day. There are probably a dozen jokes to be made about the deleterious effects of "the Biz never sleeping," but we're not up for it right now. The children, for their part, were probably wondering what the hell their parents thought was so hilarious.

What we ended up with was barely an hour of indifferent performance, sandwiched between a late start, a lengthy intermission, and guest appearances. Were the kids happy? Probably (mine were split on the issue), then again, they weren't paying for it.

Personal Bias: It case it wasn't obvious, we're not fans.

The Crowd: Parents and kids, the former tending to be more enthusiastic than the latter.

Overheard In The Crowd: "Is the bar open?"

Random Notebook Dump: "The warty phallus is their leader."

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