Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kindiefest 2013 Peaks Early, Winds Down Slowly

Kindiefest is always an experience.

Our experience is always different from other people, for a number of reasons.

As a D-list reviewer/blogger, I've been attending since the early (Stink) days at Jalopy in Red Hook.

Now Kindiefest has evolved into a whole movement and we attend the annual "family concert" that closes out the event on Sunday.

Two years ago, with a six-month-old (Matthew) in the house, it was just me and Ben. Last year, Matthew made his debut and we all attended. This year we were all set for BAM. And then my wife ate some bad mushrooms (in a hamburger from Five Guys). With her out of commission, I packed everything into one bag and headed off with the kids.

Robbi K and Friends
After some prior nightmares with traffic due to scheduling conflicts with the Five Boro Bike Tour,  this year's commute was uneventful. I even pre-paid for parking across the street from the venue. Arriving 90 minutes late, we said a quick hello to co-founder Stephanie and hurried into the theater in time for Robbi K and friends.
Backed by a drummer and bass player, Robbi played a pretty mellow set that included a cover of Ella Fitzgerald's version of "My Favorite Things." For the finale, she brought out a rooster puppet. It made an impression on Matt, who mentioned the "singing chicken" when we got home that night.

In previous years, I've brought a camcorder and taken videos of many performances. Since the room was packed (and dark), we sat on the floor. Matt plopped himself into my lap and I fired up the camcorder. Less than a minute later, an usher whispered in my ear, "Still pictures only." Alas, I had left my daguerreotype at home, which left me with an iPhone 3 with less-than-steller clarity.

The next performers were the (very) high energy Dirty Sock Funtime Band (DSFB). Suffice to say, if we were still sitting on the floor by the end of the set, you must have been stuck to some gummy bears or chewed crackers. The band played a boisterous dance set with enough energy to lighten the entire room.

As they took the stage, I remembered that my iPhone has the (primitive) uStream video app. Disabling the wi-fi to extend the battery life, I glommed the opening number of the set:

The DSFB have a decent following. They were regular performers on Jack's Big Music Show, which Ben used to watch when he was younger. Unfortunately, I recorded several episodes onto a DVD. The DVD then skipped. And if you know anything about spectrum kids, they fear anything unexpected. So we could never play that DVD again. Nor did he want to watch live episodes, thinking THEY would skip as well.

Dirty Sock Funtime Band
By the third number, the DSFB had loaded the stage with more than one dozen singers and performers. That's pretty impressive. And I was kicking myself for not recording their last song, "Dino-Soaring," which included funky choreography from everybody on the stage.

After the DSFB left the stage, something happened. It was to be expected, since this was the "headlining" act and they were done two-and-a-half hours into the (close to) four hour show. Basically, the majority of the crowd got up and left. They vamoosed. We hit the bathrooms and by the time we came back, Matt Pryor (The Terrible Twos), was on stage before a sparse audience. One would think this was the opening act, not the sixth act on the bill.

Matt Pryor aka The Terrible Twos
We've got two of the Terrible Twos CDs and enjoyed them. "When I Get to 11" is a great kid's song and Matt held the (existing) audience with his repartee. Ben yelled "Old Man Miller!" during a between-song lull. I was afraid it had thrown Pryor, who said, "This next song is about a porcupine." Ben immediately smiled, since the opening line of the song is "Old Man Miller is a porcupine." I think Pryor was happy that in this near-vacant room, he had a vocal fan.

The final performance was from the David Wax Museum. This was intriguing – a guitar, a violin, and a dancer, doing spanish-tinged songs. I felt bad that more of the crowd had not stayed to hear them. Perhaps some lineup juggling needs to be implemented in the future, separating one or two "bigger" acts or shortening the event to three hours to stem the departure flood rate.
The David Wax Museum

Violinst Sue Slezak did walk around the room, at one point standing on a chair next to Ben while she played. It made the performance much more interactive than if they had stayed on the stage. Then again, since the remaining audience had backed from the riser, it gave David and Sue (and their dancer) a chance to bring their music directly to the people who stayed to hear them.

I was happy to reconnect with Facebook/kindie stalwarts Karen and Dave, otherwise known as the "luckiest raffle winners in Brooklyn." After the show, I said hi to Out With the Kids' Jeff Bogle and Gooney Bird Kids' Gwyneth before the attendants bum-rushed us to the lobby. Missed PR maven Beth by minutes, tho.

There was far less interaction between the bands themselves. Last year, Bari Koral was joined on stage by Joanie Leeds, Suzi Shelton, and SteveSongs (click through to see the videos). When Steve (the headliner) did his set, Bari came back up with Ralph Covert (Ralph's World), and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo (videos here). I was not aware of anything like that occurring in 2013.

BAM Fisher is a great space when it's full. Empty, not so great. But it's accessible and certainly a "class A" facility, as my father would say. We were sorry to miss the first three acts, but Ben has a Hebrew school commitment on Sunday mornings that will hinder us for a few more years.

Still, we look forward to Kindiefest's family concert every year. North Hempstead's Kidstock is growing on us, but remains a close second (access to the waterfront is a plus). Kudos to organizers Stephanie, Tor, Mona, and Bill. We'll see you next spring!
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