The colorful characters of Yo Gabba Gabba and their fuzzy-capped host/mentor DJ Lance Rock turned Ovens Auditorium into a confetti-and balloon-covered play date for a couple thousand kids and their parents Sunday, when the cast of the Nick Jr. TV series performed two back-to-back shows.
Basically a collection of "greatest hits," the show skipped from one song to the next with little down time and no traditional storyline. In many households, Yo Gabba Gabba is as popular among parents as it is children because of the catchy music and retro feel; Sunday afternoon, the familiar songs - including "Name Game" and "Get the Sillies Out" - had plenty of adults in the audience shouting along.
As on each episode, each concert date features a different musician or "Super Music Friend." Charlotteans were treated to electronic artist Leslie Hall and her tiger-headed backup dancers the LY's.
While not as well-known to mainstream music fans as Shooter Jennings or Moby, who appeared at New York dates, Hall is familiar to hardcore Gabba fans. Those unfamiliar with her music may have been surprised by the gold spandex-clad rapper-dancer's high-kicking rendition of "Tight Pants/Body Rolls," a fantastical and funny ode to body image.
The guests were great, but it was the monsterific Muno (who many non-viewers know from Kia's 2010 Super Bowl commercial), Foofa, Brobee, Toodee, and their advice-dispensing robot friend Plex who are the show's real stars. Parents and children alike clamored to the aisles when the towering, costumed characters made their way through the crowd following intermission.
The "Cool Tricks" segment featured a local contest winner who celebrated her fifth birthday Sunday. Other children lined up so rapper Biz Markie, another regular cast member, could school them in beatboxing during "Biz's Beat of the Day," one of the funniest and most popular parts of the show. It was topped only by a finale of "Party in My Tummy," which included dancing chicken, cheese, and carrots.
Not every child could match the momentum of the fast-paced, hourlong show. Some cried or complained about the surprise confetti explosions and the volume (which wasn't as loud as your standard rock concert). Others tuckered out before the final number.
My 20-month-old son, whose excitement peaked at the merch booth where he yelled "Gabba Gabba," looked on with curiosity at what he was witnessing, applauding occasionally. Other children danced giddily during their favorite spots from the show.
The entire experience was well thought out - from the cardboard DJ Lance Rock glasses granted upon entry to the roving vendors selling headbands with Foofa flowers and Brobee horns. Afterward, during a VIP party at neighboring Bojangles' Coliseum, Hall, Biz Markie, and DJ Lance Rock danced, told stories and beatboxed as families lined up to be photographed with the Gabba gang.
For parents, and for some kids, having a favorite show come to life for an afternoon was a blast.