The Fresh Beats were only in Vegas for one night, but if you’re living somewhere else in the country where they’re touring this spring, I thought you might appreciate one dad’s perspective on the show. So here are my impression of the Fresh Beat Band’s February 18, 2012 show at Planet Hollywood’s Theater for the Performing Arts.
I was lucky enough to cover the show for Vegas Seven magazine, and wrote a preview of the concert that was in this week’s issue. In doing research for the preview I got the interview the band, which I wrote about here. I was struck by their enthusiasm and energy level, which is very important when entertaining anyone, particularly toddlers. In one my earlier security jobs I worked several live events and got to see a lot of concerts. It’s pretty obvious who’s phoning it or is kind of distracted and who’s giving their all. A lot of rock acts who’ve been doing this for decades can be technically proficient but workmanlike. They still give great shows, but there’s not the same kind of emotional connection with the audience that you see with other performers.
The Fresh Beat band definitely falls into the high energy camp. You might say that it’s a put-together band from a kids TV show who are out on a tour that’s a naked cash grab. Maybe that’s true on one level, but the kids have a great time, and I’m OK with being a part of that. (Full disclosure: my tickets were comped as part of the review, but I gladly popped $5 for Red Mango before the show and $10 for a glowstick.) I’d pay my own money to see them again.
So…what about the show? It started nearly a half an hour later, which might be no big deal for adults, but if you’ve got a toddler who’s already got a short attention span, it feels like an eternity. I don’t know what was going on, but the theater wasn’t nearly full at 4. It filled out by 4:25 though.
In the interim, my daughter (known on here as Prima) started a “Fresh Beat Band” chant that other kids and even a few adults picked up. I can’t tell you how proud that made me. I then helped her in starting a “Start the Show” chant, and regretted that we couldn’t have gone to ECW shows together in the 1990s.
According to the informal poll of parents around me, each of us is going to enjoy the show as much as, if not more than, our kids. We chat about our favorite songs. Seriously.
Just shy of 4:30, a half-hour after the billed start time, the curtain went up, and the band’s theme song played, and the show started. After the opening theme, the band chatted a bit with the audience. Thomas Hobson (Shout) spoke about how good it was to be in Vegas and even sang a little bit of “It’s Not Unusual.” Fun stuff.
Then they launched into “Good Times” and their four backup dancers joined the fun. It was a colorful stage, with a big video screen broadcasting words from the songs and random geometric designs behind the band.
Following that it’s a little girls vs boys, moms vs dad cheering interaction with the crowd, which leads us into “I Can Do Anything.” After that it’s “Music (Keeps Me Movin’).”
At this point I’d like to say that all four of the Fresh Beats have great live stage presence. You can tell that they’re all skilled performers who feel very, very comfortable being on stage. For those of you who are still on the fence about the “new” Marina Tara Perry, I’ll say that it’s evident early in the show that she’s doing a great job and is a wonderful addition to the band.
After a brief talk about the virtues of friendship, we get “Friend Like You.” Great choreography on this one and all of the other numbers, too.
Then it’s “Stomp the House,” at the end of which Marina gets a drum solo. Yes, even a kid’s rock show has a drum solo. She’s not exactly Neil Peart, but that’s probably a good thing.
After her solo, Marina gets one of Melody’s smoothies, which freezes her. Shout also gets frozen, which leads us into the “Freeze Dance.”
Twist is feeling hungry, so he starts pulling fruit out of a bag. He passes on the apple, and the orange, but finally settles on a banana, which signals the start of “Go Bananas.” During this number, both Shout and Twist go into the crowd. Twist went down the aisle nearest us. Prima broke out of our row and snuck up behind him. He turned around, smiled, and gave her a high five. Epic cuteness.
Then it was time for the intermission, where you can definitely go to the lobby and buy merchandise.
We come back with a video package of the Fresh Beats on tour. They come out wearing their silver rockstar jackets, which can only mean it’s time for “Just Like a Rockstar.” One lucky kid got to go up on stage with the Fresh Beats and put on a tiny rockstar jacket. I will confess to totally rocking out to this one, and even did the Dio devil horns thing for the last chorus. Hey, if the cast members can do it, I can too. For better or worse, they didn’t follow with “Holy Diver,” but with “Reach for the Sky,” a song that’s picked me up on days when I’m not feeling like doing my best. After that, Kiki tells us all to help her sing “Shine,” and we learn part of the chorus. It’s great fun to participate. In my interview with them, all four cast members stressed how interactive the show was, and they really delivered on that. They talk to the crowd in between each song (which is pretty short as songs go), so it felt like a constant back-and-forth.
I’ll take a moment here to single out Jon Beavers as Twist, who does a lot of goofy humor during the show and succeeds. Yeah, it’s not like he’s doing Shakespeare, but he’s got a great rapport with his castmates and great timing, so his humor works for four-year-olds and adults. Thomas Hobson as Shout is also incredible–he and Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer do most of the singing, and it’s really good–good enough that you find yourself signing and dancing along. These are four very talented performers. Yeah, I think I said that before, but it’s worth repeating.
Then there’s more talk about the merits of friendship, and “Friends Give Friends a Hand.”
After that Shout talks about how excited he is to be in Vegas (but doesn’t tell us if he hit XS or Pure last night). He’s so excited he comes down with Loco Legs, which then infect the entire audience, as they start playing “Loco Legs.” Dancing all around the theater for that one. Following the song, the band introduces their dancers, Misha, Tyler, Frances, and Adrian. They talk about how great things are going, which leads into “Perfect Day,” another one of my favorites.
The crowd is lively for “Here We Go,” and maybe a bit surprised when the band leaves after it’s over. But the dancers come out and get us all chanting “Fresh Beat Band.” No one flicks open their lighter, but the band still comes out, for an encore of “Twist and Shout.”
And suddenly the parents know the lyrics better than the kids.
Since “Here We Go,” Prima’s been dancing in the aisle with the other kids. She keeps scooting closer to the stage, with me scooting after her on my knees. At this point, the place is going absolutely nuts. By now we’re right in front of the stage–there’s Prima, glowstick in hand, rocking out.
The Fresh Beats then talk about what a great day this has been, which leads into the song I knew they’d close with, the closing theme, “Great Day.” I will not deny that I was unabashedly singing along the whole time and even dancing in my seat, but here I totally lose it and start dancing around while crouching on my knees so I can simultaneously keep Prima from jumping onstage and not block other kids’ views. She was having a great time, I was having a great time, and I didn’t care how goofy I looked doing it.
After the song ended, the lights came up. Everyone thanked the crowd–Kiki was especially thankful–and the Fresh Beats slapped hands with the kids in the first row. I was thrilled when Marina reached down to slap hands with Prima, and the kid in me was just as happy when she smiled and pointed at me.
So yeah, it was a great show, and a wonderful experience to share with the toddler who is important to you. It’s great entertainment for you, too. If you’re going to go, I strongly suggest that you listen to the album first, unless you’re around when your little one is watching the TV show.
I’m definitely not the only parent who rocked out here. On the way out, I overheard two different dads singing “Go Go a Go Go” (a favorite of mine that, regrettably, they didn’t play) to themselves. So I feel confident in saying that, if your little one likes this show, both you and s/he will love seeing the Fresh Beat Band live.