Yo Gabba Gabba, feat. Leslie Hall & Biz Markie Sarofim Hall, Hobby Center December 10, 2010
Yo Gabba Gabba, the children's TV show currently touring as a live stage production, has plenty of positive messages for young kids: It's okay to be different. Be sure to eat your fruits and vegetables. You don't have to be afraid of the dark.
But the biggest message seems to be one of the show's most popular taglines: Listening and dancing to music is awesome. It's this musical pedigree - guests on the show include Mark Mothersbaugh and Biz Markie - that makes the show a hit with parents as well as kids. It's also what makes the program most endearing to Aftermath.
Which is why hipster dads and young moms showed up at Hobby Center on Friday, kids in tow, dressed in DJ Lance Rock costumes or matching mother-daughter T-shirts displaying the shows' characters. Aftermath, who does not have kids, borrowed a friend's three-year-old to help us get in the childlike mood. Not that we needed much help.
Because Yo Gabba Gabba makes it okay for anyone, regardless of age, to enjoy music with a childlike wonder, which explains why Aftermath was left singing the words to "Party In My Tummy" all weekend without feeling like a goofball. So yummy! So yummy!
Not to mention that it's pretty cool to see an actual robot do The Robot.
The show started with an explosion of confetti and the upbeat song that introduces each character (and their signature dance) to the crowd, "I Like To Dance." Other than a balloon drop, a few basic stage props and a large screen behind the actors, this was a stripped-down performance where the characters and the music took center stage.
Security at Sarofim Hall seemed overly concerned with making sure kids stayed in their seating areas instead of letting them dance in front of the stage. At one point DJ Lance Rock even gracefully addressed this problem after asking kids to come forward to help him pay a dancing game.
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"You guys are doing a good job. I don't know why they're asking you to sit back down." Afterwards, kids regularly scrambled to the stage to get a high-five from DJ Lance. Hopefully that misunderstanding was sorted out before the sold-out 6 p.m. show.
Yo Gabba Gabba Live is perhaps best known for the surprise guests who join the characters onstage for the show's regular segments. Aftermath was maybe the only person in the crowd who cheered for Midwest diva Leslie Hall when she came out to teach the kids how to Dancey Dance. We aren't sure anyone else in the theater knew who she was.
But when Biz Markie transitioned from a larger-than-life figure on the screen to a larger-than-life figure on the stage (via a small door), parents in the crowd went absolutely nuts. Biz spent about 20 minutes sitting at the stage stairs, teaching kids simple beat-boxing sounds. He then performed a few brief beats of his own.
Parents were bum-rushing the stage to get pics of their kids sitting on his lap, like he was some demented hip-hop Santa Claus (he was dressed in green). Classic kid moment: The first child Biz pulled up to mimic his beats replied "You spit on me!" Out of the mouths of babes, etc.
Other than the Sarofim security buzzkill, our only disappointment with the show came at intermission, which was pretty advertising-heavy. Despite the show's wholesome personality, you expect some attempts to make money - merchandising sales in the lobby, glowsticks and candy in the theater.
But sponsor Kia laid it on a little thick, playing the Super Bowl ad from last year that showed Muno and friends on a joyride, and asking kids to enter a YouTube contest for an all-expenses-paid trip to somewhere.
But by the time the lights went down again, the characters walked through the crowd sharing hugs for the song "Hugs Are Fun" and dancers dressed like a chicken drumstick and a slice of cheese slide onto stage for "Party In My Tummy."
And it was pretty amazing to see Biz Markie in person and realize that all of those sounds really are coming fro his mouth. Following the show, Leslie Hall and the Super Music Friends band hung out in the lobby, performing and posing for pictures.
Aftermath was schooled by one youngster who was holding a Brobee stuffed toy. (Brobee is the fuzzy, green-striped character with longer than normal arms). "Brobee's our favorite too," we said to the boy. "DJ Lance Rock is my favorite." Of course.
It's DJ Lance whose special boombox makes the magic happen. No wonder the dads all wanted to dress like the guy who makes musical dreams come true.
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Personal bias: Kidless, but still a child at heart.
The Crowd: Lots of young parents and kids of all colors.
Overheard In the Crowd: Crying.
Random Notebook Dump: It was pretty sweet to see the older ushers handing balloons out in the balconies, which did not get any from the balloon drop.