Yo Gabba Gabba is well worth the trip down Punt Road to Palais Theatre.
If the names Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee and Plex mean nothing to you, chances are you're either: a) some lucky childless bastard living out an extended adolescent fantasy; or b) a bad parent. Truth is, Yo Gabba Gabba! is as much about you, the parents (the non-parents gave up reading 28 words ago) as it is about little Johnny and Lucy. Finally there's a kids show that sets clever lyrics to wicked beats, and they kindheartedly brought it (along with a fuckload of merch) back to Australia. Here's a chance to get to a daytime gig that doesn't evoke the glares of curmudgeonly do-gooders and, if you're reading this, you probably missed it. Boo.
A somewhat tatty looking DJ Lance Rock (the poor bastard's doing three of these shows a day) dances out on stage and introduces his gang of besuited misfits. It takes a couple of songs to realise you're not gonna get through the thing without buying your kid a glowstick, so a quick trip to the merch stand is required to quell the tears – at least for a while. Adalita (!) makes a brief appearance to belt out a less sweary version of her fabulous Blue Sky, and the bloody creatures (and robot) don't even do her the courtesy of a backing dance. She's amazing (as usual) and brings it for the oldies.
Beyond the mad beats, it's the sentiments that Lance Rock and the freaks share with the kiddies that set this show apart from all the other children's crap that's out there. These guys tell kids the truth and there's not a whole lot of condescension or gobbledegook. Lance Rock makes statements like “Listening and dancing to music is awesome”, and this resonates with the kids because it's fucking real. Likewise, songs such as Hugs Are Fun, Dancing's Easy and I Like Bugs tell it like it is – none of the Yo Gabba Gabba! material is wrapped in patronising shit, they treat the kids with a certain level of respect and their parents queue for the merch desk in recognition of this. Win-win.
There's just enough variation in tempo and musical style to keep it engaging for the two-times, 20-odd-minute halves (unfortunately separated by a way-too-long-for-a-14-month-old intermission). There's plenty of freaky-ass techno and hip-hop beats, but the injection of dreamy R&B (I Like Bugs), a Flaming Lips-style freak-out (All My Friends Are Different), folk-pop (Don't Be Afraid) and kosmische (Peekaboo – a musical highlight) make for an enjoyable and not-too-repetitive ride. Oh yeah, and filling Palais Theatre with bubbles blows the sensory cortexes out of 1,000 kids' heads – a spectacle that, on its own, is worth the trip down Punt Road.
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