The Washington Post

A Kid-Friendly Monsters’ Ball

The hippest new place for bands to play is on ‘Yo Gabba Gabba!’

If you have a preschooler, you’re already familiar with “Yo Gabba Gabba!” The Nick Jr. program features five monsterish friends — Muno, Toodee, Plex, Foofa and Brobee, shown — and their orange-clad human friend, DJ Lance Rock (Lance Robertson), who sing songs, play games and host bands that parents love.

On Friday, “Yo Gabba Gabba! Live!” comes to the Patriot Center, where it’s sure to be greeted with high-pitched, juice-fueled screams. And that will just be from the parents.

Longtime friends Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz created “Yo Gabba Gabba!” in 2004. They wanted to make a show that looked different from anything else out there. “I think a key to the show’s design is it feels homemade and, at the same time, out of this world,” Jacobs says. “There’s something not right about it, but there’s something that feels fun and friendly.”

An air of accessibility dominates the show, particularly in the “I Like to Dance” segment, in which a child says, “My name is [name]! I like to dance!” and then proceeds to boogie. “We don’t go to dance studios and find dancers,” says Jacobs, who prefers using real, unpolished children. “We want to show kids that dancing is fun.”

Kids’ shows have often integrated stars who appeal to parents, as any adult viewer of “The Muppet Show” or “Sesame Street” can attest. “Yo Gabba Gabba!” gets hipster bands to perform with an odd, infectious enthusiasm.

Jacobs’ and Schultz’s kids “love Kraftwerk and Run-DMC and the Ramones,” Jacobs says. “So we thought, ‘Why can’t Flaming Lips and Weezer come on the show, but sing something appropriate for kids? Why can’t we write songs like the Ramones or Kanye, but the lyrics are about having a party in your tummy and eating your vegetables?”

As for the live show, what makes it special (and the tickets coveted) is that actors from the TV show take part, including ’80s icon Biz Markie, whose on-screen segment “Biz’s Beat of the Day” is also a part of the stage show.

“It’s about being fair to the kids,” Jacobs says. “If you’re going to the live show, you’re going to see DJ Lance Rock and nobody else [in his place].”

Ready to Rock?
Head to YouTube to find these videos from popular bands that have appeared on “Yo Gabba Gabba!”

The Roots “Lovely, Love My Family”
Key lyric: “I go to school and educate my mind/and the way the world is spinning makes me want to turn around and start all over/hit the reset and go back in time.”

Chromeo “Nice N Clean”
Video synopsis: The band sings in a giant sink; P-Thugg gets reprimanded for not washing his hands before touching his keyboard.

MGMT “Art Is Everywhere”
Video synopsis: The band members, dressed as Vikings, ride an animated bird-ship through space and throw paint everywhere.

Patriot Center, 4500 Patriot Circle, Fairfax; Fri., $25-$45; 703-993-3000.
Kristen Page-Kirby covers film, arts and events for Express.



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