This last Sunday, August 7th I had the privilege to attend the Very Important Rocker (V.I.R.) show with my family at the James Hotel in Chicago. It is held in conjunction with Kidapalooza which is part of Lollapalooza. With me so far. Okay well for the last three years they have been putting on a sampler of the show happening at the big show. The have 4 artist performing at 9am (each a 20 minute set) in a ballroom in the James Hotel. It’s organized by Tor Hyams who books the Kidapalooza stage. Last year I saw Recess Monkey, Dan Zanes, The Verve Pipe with the Happiness Club as well. Last years show was AWESOME! One of the best concerts I had seen that year period! I shall post the short essay I wrote here (it is on facebook if you care to read it now). So going to the show there were some expectations. Now once again we checked in and then enjoyed the continental breakfast. They had cereal, pastries, juice, milk, coffee (seems Brady and Ralph sang a bit about this substance), fruit and Lifeway Kefir (with a rep). Also Paul Frank balloons were everywhere as they are a sponsor and they give a gift bag to each family as they leave. Did I mention the whole event is FREE! That’s right FREE! They feed you, entertain you and send you home with stuff for nothing. I did pay for parking , but I figured I had to help stimulate the economy in some way. Plus I had a 17 month old with us and it’s good to have the vehicle close by just in case. So on to the show
Brady Rymers opening was awesome! His high energy guitar playing with another man playing a washboard and assorted percussion instruments flat-out kicked butt. I was a bit disappointed when we arrived that there was no drum set (meaning no full band)but then Brady reminded me how much sound and fun two guys can generate. They had all the kids up front (including my daughter front and center) dancing and singing and having a great time. I spied a few parents as well. I don’t think there was a person in the room not having a good time and boppin to the music as all this was happening a 9am! It was truly a great opening. Now I have to go get some of Brady’s other CD’s cause we only have the last one (Love Me for Who I Am) which is great, but my daughter wants more Rymer music! Go see Brady if you get a chance, solo or with his great band. He is one of the best out there.
Next on the bill was HaleyBonar. She did a nice job following Brady which is no small task. She is a lot more subdued which was probably good because a lot of kids needed a break after the first set. She has a great voice and really smart lyrics. Plus she covered “I Wanna be like You” which is my favorite Disney song of all time from the Jungle Book. Also her “If I had a Rainbow” is one of my favorite songs playing on Kids Place Live as well. The true testament to her singing is all the kids sat down up front and listened at her feet. If she comes back we’ll try to see her again.
Next was The Happiness Club and their set was high energy dancing and singing. I think they made a mistake when they cleared the dance floor so they could do their thing (they do have a lot of people and needed the space) and so the interactive part was lost. Last year they actually danced with the kids and included them in some of their sets but not this year. They never reclaimed their audience by involving them. They did a better job of this last year.
Last but not least was Ralph Covert (known as Ralph’s World) and he once again showed what one man and a guitar can do. The kids that were still there (some went home to nap I’m sure) all approached the stage and he had them swimming and dancing and holding hands in circles. He had parents doing letters of the alphabet onstage and for the last song he invited everyone to join him onstage. Most of the kids did and as it wasn’t the largest of stages parents deferred. Ralph owned the room and the kids and parents responded in kind. His last song he was half unplugged as a kid kicked out his guitar chord but everyone kept on a dancing and nobody minded. It was great to see my 17 month old son in the middle of the dancing circle having a great time even though his nap was well overdue.
So all in all it was a great event. My family had a great time. Last year you could buy CD’s and merchandise from the artists and this year there wasn’t anything available. This was good because I would have surely purchased Haleys EP and another Brady Rymer CD and even though we have 2 of Ralphs we’d a probably bought one more.
So if you get a chance next year look out for the notice for the V.I.R. show happening the Sunday Morning of Lollapolooza. You’ll be glad you did.