The Crowd Goes Mild for Hilary Duff at Extravalooza

Monday, June 12, 2006

Even though Hilary Duff's stage presence is about as rousing as an Al Gore lecture, you had to feel bad for the poor teenager by the end of her headlining performance Saturday at the third annual Kids' Extravalooza at L'Enfant Plaza, hosted by AOL and its children's service, KOL.

A free event to benefit the National Children's Museum (slated to open in 2009), the three-hour show -- which also featured the Urban Nation Hip-Hop Choir and performers from local Boys and Girls Clubs -- wasn't the family magnet one might have expected.

Add a meager, sun-wearied audience to an excruciatingly forced intro by big sis/"Napoleon Dynamite" star Haylie Duff and shrill Radio KOL DJ Rick Adams ("Do you remember any words from the film?!"), and Duff still had some serious crowd-warming to do.

Appropriately kicking off the 50-minute set with her hit "Wake Up," the 18-year-old Duff immediately established her performing style of walking the stage and occasionally waving a hand in the air, a disappointing contrast to her bouncy, often guitar-driven repertoire. Duff's backup singers -- and frenzied, impossible-to-ignore drummer, Washington native Shauney Baby -- added some energy, but it was never quite enough to raise the roof. Duff, though, smiled sweetly and was in surprisingly good (if suspiciously full) voice throughout.

And it became clear that she was in fact doing her best between songs to pump up the volume: After one of her many tries to elicit shouts of "whoo!" from the crowd, Duff blurted a self-conscious "Where did everybody go?"

-- Tricia Olszewski

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