Kidzapalooa day two: Staying cool with Band of Horses, Buddy Guy, Quinn Sullivan and Care Bears on Fire
The walk to and through the entry gates at Lolla takes just long enough Saturday morning that we miss Kidzapalooza opener Yuto Miyazawa, the 9-year-old guitar whiz, and then we can't resist catching part of the Band of Skulls set (good stuff!), but judging by the light attendance at singer Frances England's upbeat 11:30am set, we still beat most of the hipster parents to Lolla's family-friendly oasis.
There's enough of a crowd to make for a fun hip-hop dancing demo that turns into a teaching session in which a dozen or so little ones bust moves of varying skill but universal charm. That's the thing about Kidza: It's about a lot more than the music. Until they shut down at afternoon's end, there's always something fun to do, including favorite activities like the punk-rock hairstyling booth and the instrument petting zoo.
When Zach Gill is introduced at 12:30, the youngsters don't get too excited until Kidza founder/host Tor Hyams mentions that Gill played on the Curious George soundtrack. Now that's a kid rock star! Gill, of ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) fame, delivers a loose, laid-back set full of fun vocal effects, electric keyboard and ukulele stylings.
After busting out "The Sharing Song" from the monkey movie, Gill admits to his receptive audience that it's sometimes hard to share, and so he's written that tune's polar opposite. With that, he launches into the amusing "Don't Touch My Stuff," because, he says, "you have to keep these things balanced."
Then Gill gets even goofier with a couple of ukulele numbers and a bastardized accordion version of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." His big finish includes donning a homemade narwhal horn and handing out polished stones he dubs "narwhal tears" after singing about the unicorn of the ocean. The kids are delighted.
Some adults (including me) are less delighted by the skateboarding demo that follows as young adults execute some ragged ollies with nary a pad or helmet in sight. They later lend kids helmets so they can try out the decks, but the bad example's already been set.
Everyone perks up when 10-year-old bluesboy Quinn Sullivan takes the stage at 1:30. He's got a confident manner that bolsters his emerging vocal talents, and his guitar work on songs such as "Little Wing" is reminiscent of Cream-era Clapton. The kid's legit. Speaking of which, Buddy Guy takes the stage for a raucous closing guitar duel on Sullivan's story song about meeting the blues legend. My son and I are next to the stage, where a security guy says, "If you think this kid is good, you ought to see Miyazawa." I hear that several times during the day. Luckily, he's playing again this morning.
After a lunch break to check out Los Campesinos! up north, we bop back to Kidza in time to catch some of the punky-pop grrl power Care Bears on Fire are dealing out. Then, the crowd begins to swell, hipsters vastly outnumbering kids but maintaining a mellow vibe, as Band of Horses checks in for a decent three-song set. During the best number, the kid-appropriate "Is There a Ghost," a dude walks by telling his pal, "I don't really dig meeting celebs."
As the hipper-than-thou contingent fades away, kids take back Kidzapalooza for closing act Ralph's World. Is Ralph Covert bummed that Band of Horses outdrew him so significantly? He doesn't seem to be as he launches into a bright, happy, Byrds-ish set of infectious kid-pop including "We Are Ants," "The Rhyming Circus," "Puppy Dog," "Surfin' in My Imagination" and "Happy Lemons," which gets a good singalong chorus going as a toddler in a Smiths Meat Is Murder T-shirt and tiny Converse All-Stars dances with delight. Clearly, Kidza attendees don't need the area's abundant shade to stay cool.
Check out today's Kidzapalooza schedule here.