Last month, Chicago-area kids' musicianScribbleJim was kind enough to report on his (and the rest of the ScribbleGang's) experiences playing at Kidzapalooza. After I posted the report, however, he said that the rest of the story, "must be told."
And indeed it must. Vacation and the launch of the new site put a little time between the installments, but it's worth the wait. Be sure to jump past the fold to get to the picture that tells, well, if not a thousand words, well in excess of 600 or 700.
Many thanks to Jim for taking the time to write this up. Be on the lookout for the upcoming Kevin Kammeraad's new album A Curious Glimpse of Michigan, with lots of ScribbleMonster-y goodness, due out in October.
On Sunday, the Kidzapalooza stage has one surprise after another. The first act is The School of Rock All-Stars – a group of about fifteen kids between the ages of 12 and 18 performing classic rock tunes. These kids are unbelievable. Quite possibly the most talent I see all weekend. There’s a really nice crowd on hand and they are loving these kids. The response is so great, they invite the kids back to perform the final set on the Kidzapalooza stage that afternoon. Want to talk about the potential of kids? Want to get your young musicians inspired? Holy cow! I’ve got to go back to school.
Perry Farrell & Peter DiStefano draw a huge crowd and you can tell they are both sincerely excited about Kidzapalooza and doing something for the kids. Tor Hyams reminds the crowd (which is primarily adults) that this stage is for the kids and requests that everyone make way so those with kids can get to the front. His request is met with applause and friendly compliance. Peter DiStefano brings a handful of kids on stage with him, one at a time, to help him play the guitar. He does the string work while the kids strum and they all sound great. It’s a simple little thing, but it brings so much joy to these kids and their families (and Peter).
The backstage area is completely different during this all-star run. There are tons of cameras, press, security, handlers and guests. Patti Smith, yep, that Patti Smith, is on hand as a special surprise guest. She plays a couple of songs and then is part of the day’s most surreal moment when she is interviewed backstage by Ratso, the rodent hand-puppet co-host of Chic-A-Go-Go. Matt Costa also stops by to play a few tunes as do The Terrible Twos. Shortly after they finish their set, I catch The Terrible Twos’ alter-ego, The New Amsterdams, playing on the next stage over. Both are pretty great.
When I tell my sister that I met and shared a cart ride with GQ of The Q Brothers, she’s star-struck. It ends up that The Q Brothers are part of the group responsible for “The Bomb-itty of Errors,” a hip-hop take on Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors” that my sister dubbed “The most amazing thing I’ve ever seen on stage.” That’s a lot to live up to. The Q Brothers’ performance is friendly and relaxed (much like the brothers themselves) and I suddenly feel as if I’m at a family reunion picnic. I’m struggling with how to describe the mood. It’s kind of like those impromptu performances that would take place in the Petrie’s living room on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Weird analogy, I know. But it’s the best I can come up with. They’re clearly enjoying themselves and the feeling is infectious.
ScribbleBrian and I catch a cart and arrive in time to see the last few songs by Chicago’s very own Assassins. They have a nice crowd and sound great. ScribbleBrian hasn’t purchased his Lollapalooza gear yet, so we make a stop at the merchandise tent. Wah-wah-whahhhh. So sorry, but you’re too late. The place is cleaned out. There were, like, 50 official items to chose from at the start. Now they’re down to two tees (only available in XL) and a beach towel. Let’s tell ScribbleBrian what he didn’t get. There were four men’s and four women’s tees that had the 2006 Lollapalooza logo on the front and all the bands that played listed on the back. ScribbleMonster is in the center of the bottom row. That’s so cool. I bought me a couple of those; one long-sleeve and one short. I consider being nice and offering one up to ScribbleBrian, but quickly decide that would be a bad idea. I mean, what lesson would he learn from that? It’s really for his own good.
We hop a cart back to the artist lounge area and meet up with ScribbleBrett. The VIP treatment this weekend has been pretty cool, but I’ve got to say that the golf cart shuttle is the best perk. At least a few times this weekend it allowed us to split our time between sets when two bands we wanted to see were playing at the same time on opposite ends of the park. Not to mention the wear and tear it saved on my shoes. Hey, I’m a starving artist and shoes are expensive.
I’m amused and find it kind of charming that ScribbleBrian purchased a silver Sharpie marker which he carried around in his guitar case this weekend specifically in case he ran into Flea. The only kink in his plan is that he would have to carry his bass around with him all weekend. Well, that and he would actually have to run into Flea. Don’t look now, but isn’t that Flea standing right next to you, ScribbleBrian? D’oh! “Hey Flea, how you doing?” “Good.” Wah-wah-whahhhh. Poor ScribbleBrian. Too bad you left the bass at home today (and Sharpie).
ScribbleBrett and ScribbleBrian are excited about seeing the Queens of the Stone Age and Red Hot Chili Peppers tonight. I’m just tired. And it’s getting really crowded in here. I head for home shortly into the Queens’ set. The report from ScribbleMonster’s rhythm section is the Chili Peppers’ show is fantastic. What an awesome weekend. Everyone has been so good to us and Lollapalooza put on a great event. If you didn’t get here this year, I highly recommend you put it on your calendar for next year.
As a parent, I understand why there may be some apprehension about bringing your kids along, but here’s some stuff you may not have known about Kidzapalooza:
Kids under 10 get in FREE when they’re accompanied by a ticketed adult. Got kids? Nieces? Nephews? Bring them along! The very family-friendly Kidzapalooza area is open from 11:00 to 4:30 and has the nicest piece of the park. There’s plenty of grass and shade with great views of Lake Michigan. The talent on the kids’ stage is top-notch and there’s a ton of really cool FREE hands-on activities (more on those later). This area alone is worth the price of admission. And feel free to stray into other areas of the festival. The crowd was great, the park is beautiful, there’s no reason not to.
One day ticket holders are not allowed re-entry – unless they have a kid. So you ask yourself, “What am I going to do with the kids when I meet up with my drinking buddy Rocko later?” Take them home. Have someone come to meet you and pick them up. Dad and the kids can go back to the hotel while mom gets her grove on. Make Friday your day and Saturday family day. The possibilities are endless. No one else is allowed back in once they leave. Your kids make you a VIP.
Did I tell you about the FREE stuff for the kids? Not only do the little ones get in FREE, there are FREE tattoos, face-painting and t-shirts from Small Paul, coloring books, CDs, and punk hair-styling by the Michael Anthony Salon. A few lucky kids even walked away with Gibson guitars!
And there’s a TON of FREE hands-on activities. KidTribe was out with the hula-hoops all weekend long. Their interaction with the kids and all the bright color and activity really added to the whole character and vibe of the Kidzapalooza area. The Guitar Center Rock and Roll Petting Zoo is the coolest idea. There are real-deal guitars, a drum kit, keyboard, microphones and amplifiers set up for the kids to play around with. The kid jam sessions were a sight to be seen. Peter DiStefano was giving a guitar clinic in the Zoo on Saturday. What an awesome opportunity for your kids to interact and get pointers from an honest to goodness rock star. One of our ScribbleKids who already plays guitar enjoyed playing around in the Petting Zoo with a bass so much, he took his savings and birthday money, bought a bass guitar the next day, and has been playing it all week. How cool is that? There were dance lessons and performances by the Brickheadz. John Yost & Remo were on hand with tons of percussion and leading family drum circle sessions. In addition to performing, The Q Brothers spent their weekend teaching kids how to scratch, mix and rhyme and then helping them make their own CDs at the Inferno Mobile Recording Studio. Again, how cool is that? Your kids are getting pointers and creating with professional musicians and producers, and taking their original works home – for FREE!
Do you love music? Do you love your kids? No pressure, but…