Picks :: Its dancey dance time

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February 26, 2010
By: Gregory J. Scott
Gregory J. Scott
Parents planning to take their kids to see Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! take note: your toddlers may have to elbow a few 20-something hipsters out of their seats.

Yo Gabba Gabba! — the groundbreaking Nickelodeon children’s show that dresses pre-school pedagogy in indie culture cred — has always been a hit with the snot-nosed set. But cool kids of an older generation have fallen in love with it to, too, thanks to its sophisticated synthpop jingles, its wit-heavy graphic design and its ceaseless parade of underground celebrity cameos. Lessons in saying “please” and “thank you” and the importance of sharing with others are regularly supplemented with beat-boxing tutorials (courtesy of ’90s rap icon Biz Markie) and intros to cartooning (thanks to bespectacled kook Mark Mothersbaugh, lead singer of Devo).

What’s more, the show reserves an entire segment — the hugely popular “Dancey Dance Time” — for spazz-out choreography, where hipster stars like Elijah Wood, Sarah Silverman and members of the Ting Tings take kids through simple dance steps. (A recent show had Blackstar’s Talib Kweli laying out the basics for the Peanut Butter Squish.)

Now, for the first time, the creators have adapted the program into a live, nationally touring show, “Yo Gabba Gabba! Live!: There’s a party in my city!” Due to overwhelming demand, a second performance has been added to the Minneapolis date. Gabba-fans now have the option of seeing the show at 3 p.m. or 6 p.m. at the Target Center on March 13.

The real DJ Lance Rock will grace U.S. Bank Theater with his trademark orange jumpsuit and his magical boom box full of friends Brobee, Muno, Plex, Foofa and Toodie.

The local multi-media firm Puny Interactive Entertainment, which has provided animation and design services to the show since its launch, is excited to see the live version come to Minneapolis.

“I went out to see it in Los Angeles, and it was great,” said founder Shad Petoski. The show doesn’t get clumsy trying to translate its animation to real life, Petoski noted. “Don’t think of it as Yo Gabba Gabba! on ice. Think of it as a kid’s first concert, only very interactive.”

And while Petosky couldn’t comment on what special guests might appear at the Target Center, he mentioned that the L.A. show included Snoop Dogg and the Cold War Kids. And Biz Markie was on hand for an in-person rendition of Biz’s Beats.

“If you look at [what bands] might be playing in town that night, you might get a clue of who might appear,” hinted Petoski.

Whereas other kids’ shows toss in grown-up references as a merciful concession to parents, Yo Gabba Gabba!’s intelligent design is aimed directly at the children, regardless of the hipster appeal. Just because you’re 5, the show’s creators seem to say, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for schlock.

Yo Gabba Gabba! Live!
Saturday, March 13
3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
U.S. Bank Theater at Target Center