Ralph’s World | Live review
Chicago band Ralph’s World’s Kidzapalooza soundcheck was a harbinger of things to come.
Frontman Ralph Covert, for more than two decades also lead singer for the Bad Examples, sang snippets of two songs to help the tech crew fine-tune his microphone’s levels. The first was Green Day’s “Basket Case” (“Do you have the time/to listen to me whine?”) and the second was one of RW’s own hits, “We Are Ants” (“Gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme something sweet!”). Once the four-piece band’s set got underway, these themes of chameleonic reference-hopping and kid-and-parent appeal emerged as probable causes of the kindie group’s success.
At Kidza, Ralph’s World proved something I’ve always felt in theory but never seen tested in a real-world setting: Kids love the sunny chords and big happiness of the Posies. “The Rhyming Circus,” a cute singalong about dogs and frogs (riding Harley hogs) is particularly in the Jon Auer/Ken Stringfellow style, as is “Gotta Be Good,” which asks its little listeners to remind the band how to move its feet and shake its hands. (The audience happily obliged.) So it’s been proven, then: Kids love frosting on the beater.
Ralph’s World doesn’t just recall one of the best power-pop duos of all time, however. “Surfin’ in My Imagination” wittily quotes classic Beach Boys and the Surfaris’ ageless “Wipe Out,” while other songs quote another indie with lasting appeal among the swingset set, They Might Be Giants. A pick-your-instrument mime-along brought out the smiles as well as a special onstage guest—with a braid freshly pinked at the TOC Kids hair-coloring booth—and the front-of-stage mini mosh pit got its best workout of the day. I got mine, too, marveling at how effortlessly four guys find an endless array of ways to keep brains of all ages engaged.