Credit: Maryanne Ventrice
Vivian Girls and Bones Royal
Kids under 8 make incredible hecklers. Their approach is disarming: a combination of pure curiosity, unwieldy imagination, and a total lack of sarcasm. As Bones Royal, a countrified three-piece from the LES, were tuning up at Sunday afternoon’s Kidrockers show at The Living Room, headlined by The Vivian Girls, a bed-headed 6-year-old shrieked: “That’s making my heart beat so fast!” It was impossible to tell if he was joking or serious. Guitarist Foley Stewart blushed, and looked confused. “Thanks?” he said.
At Kidrocker gigs, two bands play 4 or 5 originals at low volume, swapping out dirty words, and engage in a Q&A with the children, moderated by hosts Seth Herzog and Craig Baldo. The idea is that hip parents can see their favorite bands with their kids, fostering an appreciation for grown-up music, and ideally replacing The Wiggles with Nada Surf. On Sunday, though, the performances took a backseat to the kids’ savage wit. From the Q&A’s:
Herzog: Do you play an instrument?
4-year-old boy: I pretend to play trombone.
7-year-old girl [to Vivian Girls]: If you had a boy in your band, would you change your name?
Cassie Ramone: Probably not. We had a guy fill in on drums once.
7-year-old girl: Was the guy annoyed?
Baldo: Fill in this Beach Boys lyric. God only know where I’d be without…
5-year-old girl: Lederhosen!
The kids kneeled or sat Indian style on a carpet of Twister mats near the front of the stage. For much of Bone Royal’s set, they gazed at the trio with frightening stoicism, like the stoned mod rock audience in Antonioni’s Blow Up. Afterwards, one child asked bluntly, “Why are you called Royal?” “Well,” Stewart confessed, unable to lie or riff his way out of it, “the honest answer to that is we liked the word ‘bones,’ and put ‘royal’ next to it.”
The Vivian Girls, with their babysitting experience and child-friendly lyrics (“No” uses only one word), were more integrative. They piled the kids on stage right away, handing out tambourines and encouraging wild, cacophonic sing-alongs. Still, they were nervous, having refused the free drink-tickets. Bassist Kickball Katy: “We thought, ‘We can’t drink in front of kids!'”
The next one happens at 92Y Tribeca February 15, from 1 to 2:30. It’s BYOK (Bring Your Own Kid), so try to befriend one in the meantime.–Jed Lipinski